This chapter discusses the cellular and molecular mechanisms of learning in Aplysia and uses it as the basis for comparison with the three principle stages of neuronal development: differentiation, neurite outgrowth, and synapse formation. The comparison of development and learning in Aplysia reveals a striking number of mechanistic similarities between these two processes. These observations lend substantial support to the hypothesis that growth mechanisms involved in the development of the nervous system persist into the adult where they subserve learning and memory. The adaptive properties of the adult nervous system represent a combination of two classes of mechanisms, one that includes retained developmental processes and the other that appears to be specifically related to adult plasticity; the distinguishing feature between the two classes is the dependence on the cell growth.
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