McGill LogoDiverse patterns of training and learning may possibly lead to different types of memory formation. Atleast this is what a latest study from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (The Neuro) of McGill University claims.

Apparently, this novel study recognizes the molecular differences between spaced training and massed training, thereby elucidating brain function, guiding learning and training principles. It is believed that spaced training is distributed over time whereas massed training occurs at very short intervals.

Synaptic facilitation appears to represent learning and is the basis of change in learning in Aplysia. Synaptic facilitation is known to be a process of strengthening communication between nerve cells or neurons. Supposedly, this process is controlled by the release of a neurotransmitter called serotonin. It was believed that four to five spaced applications of serotonin generate long-term changes in the strength of the synapse.

Synapse is known to be the junction between two neurons. However, in this study, serotonin seems to have led to less activation of PKC Apl II. This is believed to have led to stronger connections between neurons and therefore increased learning and memory.

“It is a well known psychological principle that learning is better when training trials are spaced out than when given all together. However, there are very few, if any studies that identify, at the molecular level, differences between the two types of training,” says lead author of the study, Dr. Wayne Sossin, neuroscientist at The Neuro.

“In this study, using Aplysia, a type of mollusk often used as a model of learning in which the difference between spaced and massed training has been well established, we identify an event, the activation of the enzyme called Protein kinase C Apl II (PKC Apl II), which is very different under the two training paradigms and could explain the differences in learning,” continues Sossin.

The findings of the study revealed that in every organism, memory formation appears to be highly sensitive not only to the total amount of training, but also to the pattern of trials utilized during training. Particularly, trials distributed over time seem to be at superior in generating long-term memories as compared to trials which were presented at very short intervals.

The study experts found that there seems to be much more activation of PKC Apl II when the application of serotonin is continuous. This suggests that activation of this enzyme may perhaps block the mechanisms for generating long-term memory, while retaining mechanisms for short-term memory. Allegedly, serotonin is continuous in massed learning/training.

This study is believed to have shown that the enzyme PKC Apl II is regulated differently by spaced against massed applications of serotonin. In addition, the difference in activation of PKC Apl II could possibly elucidate some of the distinction between spaced and massed training.

The findings of the study have been published in the Journal of Neuroscience.