This the hippocampus is an important part of

This study was conducted
on a person with severe damage to the bilateral amygdala, a person with damage
in the bilateral hippocampus, a person with damage to both of those areas, and
people without brain damage for controls. The purpose of this study was to use
information gathered from previous animal studies and test similar memory
processes in humans. These animal studies found that the hippocampus is an
important part of declarative memory, while the amygdala is important in
emotional responses and associations. However, from a research standpoint, it
is difficult to come to a solid conclusion on this because these kinds of specific
injuries to either the hippocampus or the amygdala are not very common. At this
time in 1995, there was not enough of this evidence in humans in particular. So
more specifically, the goal of this study was to explore these regions of the
brain in relation to emotional associations and declarative memory using
conditioning tasks. The accepted hypothesis was that the results would match
results of the previous animal and human studies done on these brain areas.

            This study was conducted using two conditioning experiments,
as it was mentioned previously. Visual-auditory and auditory-auditory methods
were used. In the visual-auditory, monochrome slides were used at the
conditioned stimulus while a loud surprising noise was used as the
unconditioned stimulus. For the auditory-auditory method, different
computer-generated sounds were used as the conditioned stimulus and the same
loud noise was used as the unconditioned stimulus as the visual-auditory. There
is a skin conductance response in each experiment and it acts as the dependent
variable. The independent variable is the subject of the experiment and the
brain lesion they have (or lack thereof). Each subject was conditioned with
both methods each day with a few hours of a break in between. This began with
the habituation phase which entailed the subjects being presented the
monochrome slides with four different colors in a random order. This continued
until the skin conductance response was zero. Once the SCR was zero, the
conditioning phase began. The subject was shown the monochrome slide in a
random order. Six of the twenty-six slides were blue, and were followed by the
loud noise lasting for one second (US). There were also six blue slides that
were not followed by the loud noise. The blue slide was the CS in this
experiment. The SCR data collected during the conditioning phase served the
purpose of testing emotional response and association. Once this was complete,
the extinction phase began and involved showing the subject only blue slides
with no loud noise until the SCR went back down to near zero. Five minutes
after the conditioning was complete, each subject was asked questions about
what colors were seen, how many were seen, and which colors were followed by
the loud noise. This portion of the experiment served the purpose of testing
the declarative memory. There are several advantages to this study, one being
that it tests both auditory and visual stimuli to account for any differences
in sight and hearing from person to person. Another advantage would be that the
SCR was tested at each stage of the emotional response test. This made it
possible to make sure that there was no response to the slides before the
conditioning stage, guaranteeing that any response collected during
conditioning was authentic.

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            The major findings of this study matched hypothesis and
the studies it was based on. The person with the bilateral lesion of the
amygdala did not produce a SCR response during the conditioning portion of the
experiment, but was able to perform in the declarative test and answer the questions
about the conditioning correctly in comparison to the control group. The person
with the bilateral lesion of the hippocampus performed exactly opposite to
this, showing SCR results in the conditioning task but not able to answer the
questions correctly for the declarative test in comparison to the controls.
However, this person still did not show as high of a SCR magnitude for the
conditioned response as the controls did. The person with damage in both brain
areas had low performance in both of these tests, as expected. In short, the
person with damage to the amygdala did not respond normally to the emotional
association task, but performed normally in the declarative memory task. The
person with damage to the hippocampus performed normally in the emotional
response task, but not in the declarative memory task. The person with damage
to both areas did not perform normally in either task.

            These results further strengthened the idea that the
amygdala is involved in emotional association and response, while the
hippocampus is important in declarative memory. All the subjects produced a
normal SCR when presented with only the unconditioned stimulus, including the
person with the amygdala damage. This proves that the amygdala is not crucial
in the production of electrodermal activity, but it is crucial in the association
of sensory activity in response to a stimulus. The results of the study that
the amygdala places an important in complex association between, while the
hippocampus plays a more important role in learning the relations of different
stimuli. This study successfully shows a distinct difference between these two
parts of the brain and different processes they control. This study of one of
many that make it clear that memory is not controlled by a singular portion but
by several, and also that there are different memory processes that are controlled
by these separate brain regions. This study was important for scientific
advancement because many similar studies need to be conducted in order to
accept valid results as factual. This is relevant to what we will be discussing
in class because we will be discussing memory systems in general and amnesia.
We will be discussing different theories of memory systems, like memory being
one system with multiple processes and memory being split into declarative and
nondeclarative with distinctions in each category. This study in particular can
relate because it displays this specific distinction between these two
processes.