Mediated learning informs choice

A research team investigates the neurobiological mechanism behind behavioural choices

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A team of researchers based at the University of Bordeaux, France, and University of Catania, Italy, have collaborated to understand the neurobiological mechanism behind the behavioural choices we make. Their results are presented in the article, Hippocampal CB1 Receptors Control Incidental Associations, published by Neuron

The Nature Reviews Neuroscience review is a neat summary of this research study and highlighted that the cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1R) expressed on hippocampal interneurons contributes significantly to making incidental associations between stimuli, for example, linking an odour to taste, and indirectly affects behaviour through mediated or inferred learning - learning by experience. The hippocampus is involved with the formation of memories and is part of the limbic system in the brain, which supports motivation, behaviour, emotion, olfaction and long term memory. 

The researchers found mediated learning was affected in mice models without CB1R’s expressed in the hippocampal GABAergic interneurons, however, the mice's ability to directly learn was not impaired. In addition, the research team have prepared this interesting video abstract to explain the findings of their study.

Gabrielle Ahern

Managing Editor, npj Science of Learning Community

I am based in Queensland, Australia, and have an interesting portfolio of skills, experience and qualifications in science research and content creation.