This chapter focuses on the cellular changes required to produce experience-dependent alterations in neural function. This account is grounded on issues raised by Santiago Ramón y Cajal. His treatise on neuroanatomy catalogued in 1909 a range of proposals for cellular mechanisms. Cajal envisaged a reinforcement of existing pathways through repetitive use as well as the creation of new pathways by a “continued branching and growth of dendritic and axonal arborizations.” In 1917 C. U. Ariëns Kappers in Amsterdam developed this notion of neuronal growth. Associative learning, he argued, resulted from the synchronous stimulation of neurons, with axons growing toward dendrites already active. Learning required the same processes that he imagined to be involved in neural development.
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