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The programme looks at cognitive maps and working memory together with a series of experiments which establish these concepts. It also examines the role played by the hippocampus in both types of memory.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: SD286, "Biology, brain and behaviour"
Item code: SD286; 09
First transmission date: 04-07-1981
Published: 1981
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:24:00
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Producer: Jack Koumi
Contributors: Dick Morris; F. M.(Frederick M.) Toates
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Cognitive maps; Hippocampus; Memory
Footage description: Film extracts from the 'World about us: the night of the fox' programme showing a fox burying and retrieving food from its hiding place. Commentary by Fred Toates explains that psychologists characterise this skill as an ability to form and use a 'cognitive map' and to use a 'working memory'. Toates goes on to relate these notions to the concepts of long term and short term memory respectively. An experiment at St. Andrew University, using a Tolman maze, is carried out in which the spatial behaviour of a rat is examined. Commentary by Richard Morris. The experiment indicates that rats do form a cognitive map of their environment which they use to find their way around. Another experiment is carried out in the same laboratory by Richard Morris, again to demonstrate that rats form and use cognitive maps of their environment. In this experiment rats are forced to swim to the safety of a raised platform which they cannot see but which they have learned is there. The programme now moves on to examine the ability of an animal to keep track of recent events such as visiting a location and depleting it of food. This is the concept of 'working memory'. David Olton at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore describes and performs an experiment with rats which demonstrates that these animals do have a 'working memory'. The experiment involves rats in an 8 arm maze foraging for food pellets. They quickly learn not to go up arms which have already been depleted of food. The programme next looks at a series of experiments which examine the involvement of the hippocampus in cognitive mapping and working memory. Commentary by Fred Toates explains that the experiments which follow deal with rats which have had the fimbria fornix of the hippocampus lesioned. Richard Morris performs an experiment, again with rats in a pool of water, which he feels proves that the lesion of the fornix destroys the cognitive map of the animal but not necessarily the working memory. David Olton performs two experiments, both with rats in the 8 arm maze, which prove, he believes, that it is working memory and not the cognitive map which is destroyed by fornix lesion. Fred Toates, with the aid of a graphics board, points out that the findings of the two researchers are contradictory. He also suggests a way in which this might be resolved in the future.
Master spool number: HOU3596
Production number: FOUS184H
Videofinder number: 2081
Available to public: no