Class notes chapter 2:
Elicited behavior: Behavior that occurs in reaction to environmental stimuli (i.e. cough if something gets into
mouth or a reflex). There are step that are involved in initiating a response.
1) Eliciting stimulus (Gets things started usually is sensed by the neuron). ▯ travels to the spinal cord (interneuron)
and bypasses the brain ▯ travels to muscles neurons ▯ Response is initiated ( note that this response Closely linked
with the stimulus and does not occur without the stimuli). The neurons response is shown in this picture( note:
this is a very simple version in reality it is very complex process)
What good are elicited behaviors? Contribute to well being and survival (head turning of baby during nursing,
withdrawal responses, and so on)
Modal Action Patterns (formerly fixed action patterns ):
1) More species-specific form of elicited behavior and usually an animal will do it over and over again. For
example the egg rolling response of the certain type of ducks, the different performances/sexual behavior
animal does to get a mate etc. They are all specific to a certain species group.
2) Also known as fixed action pattern ( as the duck example, the bird will continue to do the whole process
as it has survival value)
3) Changed to MAPs (such as the introduction of different types of eggs in the sea gull experiment) reflect
the fact that they are not immutable over time or with changing stimulus conditions (i.e. you can change
the stimuli, and it produces different type of response like more egg rolling for bigger size). Thus saying
that these responses are not really fixed because variability does exist in the response they make.
• Sign or releasing stimulus: a specific feature required to elicit a specific response (Herring Gull Feeding
Behavior of the red nose picking causes mother to recurvate). Supernormal stimulus: once this stimuli
is identified, we can take advantage of it and elicit an EVEN STRONGER RESPONSE like more
aggression to more red belly that is not even seen in nature(thus the response do vary and they are not
FIXED and are variable. That’s why MAPS are not known as fixed now)
Organization of Behavior: Responses is related to one another. The Early components are appetitive behavior
(tend to vary and depend on learning/ culture like how you make food) and the end components are
consummatory behavior ( to consume or finish eating). These tend to be very species specific and same
throughout the specifies like we human all eat the food same way)
General sequences of Food acquisition: 1) General search mode where you don’t know where to look▯2) Focal
search mode where you know the food is in tree▯Food handling mode like you cook it▯Ingestion mode (eat it)
Elicited Behaviour and Repeated Stimulation
Elicited behavior is not the same every single time but rather shows plasticity (change). Three studies show this:
1) Visual attention: Bashinski et al. (1985) examined infant
visual fixation using “artificial” stimuli
How did the authors perform the study? Infant assigned to
two different group of visual stimuli and how long the infant
fixates on the stimulus was measured. (more the novelty there is,
the more the fixation time there is)
What did they find? Overtime, for both stimuli the looking time
decreased after repeated exposure. But the complex stimuli were
looked at more then the less complex.
What did their results look like (fixation time vs. trials)
4. Why is their finding important? Elicited behaviors are not the same.
2. Salivation &Taste ratings in people
How did the authors perform the study? Gave subject’s lemon or lime juice. . they then Measured saliva
output over trials. Measured hedonic ratings (did you like the taste) over trials. What did they find? Initially salvation/hedonic both increase, but then Over trial, the flavor of the different
juices changed/decreased (both hedonic and the salvation. To make sure that it was JUST habituated to the
repeated stimuli, they would mix and or add the nonrepeated juice, and the salvation would go back up.
Suggesting ONLY the repeated stimuli was the cause of the habituation.
What did their results look like? (Hedonic right and salvation left level over trial)
Why is their finding important? Elicited behavior is not invariant and its does change overtime. And
habituation in this case was stimuli specific.
3. “Other Race Effect” in Infants
How did the authors perform the study? Habituated
Caucasian infant to either Caucasian (own) or Asian (other)
faces. Tested with a novel face with 70/30 mix of familiar
face/novel face. If infants could detect a change, would predict
an increase in looking time
What did they find? Only infants tested with Caucasian faces
increased looking time
What did their results look like? (mean looking trial vs.
familiar or new faces ( Asian which is in grey/Caucasian which
is in black)
Why is their finding important? Other face effect occurs in
infants. Those more skilled at detecting small changes in facial
feature when those changes are from one’s own race
(Caucasian) rather then other (Asian). Also shows elicited response vary and are not universal.
1. Habituation : decreases in responsiveness produced by repeated stimulation (as seen in the lime
experiment and the child’s visual experiment that what it look like). We see this everywhere like noise,
sounds around so on and us.
2. Sensitization : increases in responsiveness by repeated stimulation or a strong extraneous stimulus.
Lime study revisited (#2):
To make sure that it was JUST habituated to the repeated stimuli (i.e. lime) , they would mix and or add the non
repeated juice(lemon), and the salvation would go back up. Suggesting ONLY the repeated stimuli was the cause
of the habituation (stimuli specificity). Also behavioural and perception can also habituate ( can habituate
Functional Habituation: the role of habituation in the wild. Deecke et al., 2002 examined habituation to
predator vocalizations in harbor seals
How did the authors perform the study? Tested harbor seal behavior in response to three stimulus classes:
1. Familiar mammaleating whales/ t ransie t (run away as going to eat you)
2. Familiar fisheating whales BC resident (no worries ▯ not going to eat you) 3. Unfamiliar fisheating whales AK residents (no sure)
What did they find? As expected for 1 they run
away far from the source and 2 did not run away from
source. For the unfamiliar, they still ran away as this
was the first trial (similar to lime example ▯ but we
expect overtime, if no killing ▯ no run away)
What did their results look like? (Number of seals
visible at surface( the changed in percent is shown)
from sound vs. sound played 1,2,3 order)
Why is their finding important? Animal has learned
through selective habituation to which stimulus to
respond to and not respond to. Habituation in the
How to know it is habituation?
Habituation is a decline in responding due to repeated exposure to a stimulus. Decline can be due to factors other
than habituation. Sensory adaptation (neurons sensory damage leading to hearing loss but we think its
habituation in startle response ) and fatigue (muscles can’t function/muscle neuron damage). TO CHECK: you
can’t produce a muscular response as initial response as muscle is fatigued (lemon study example ▯ different juice
should NOT have produced any response if this or sensory oral adaptation was the case)
Dual Process Theory of Habituation and Sensitization:
Underlying neural processes for
increases and decreases in
responsiveness to stimulation.
Habituation process:() leads to
decreases in responsiveness.
Sensitization process (+): leads to
increases in responsiveness not
mutually exclusive processes!
Both (S and H) might be
activated at the same time and
compete for control of behavior
(producing the NET behavior
Effects vs. Processes
• Habituation process does not necessarily lead to habituation (and vice versa for a sensitization process)
• Effect = observable behavior (performance) and Processes = mechanisms underlying observable
behavior (learning). What effect is observed depends on the relative strength of the processes at work
• Habituation Effect : A progressive decrease in the vigor(strength) of elicited behaviour that may occur
with repeated presentations of the eliciting stimulus.
• Habituation Process : A neural mechanism activated by repetitions of a stimulus that reduces the
magnitude of responses elicited by that stimulus
• Sensitization Effect : An increase in the vigor of elicited behaviour that may result from repeated
presentations of the eliciting stimulus or exposure to a strong extraneous stimulus.
• Sensitization Process : A neural mechanism that increases the magnitude of responses elicited by a
stimulus. What mediates Habituation & Sensitization Processes
• Habituation processes occur in the S-R system: it is the shortest path between sense organs
activated and muscles used to make response (it is reflex arc). It is activated each time a
stimulus elicits a response – controls habituation
• Sensitization processes occur in the state system: Parts of the nervous system that control level of
responsiveness. The State system only activated in special cases and controls sensitization like the
Stimulus (12 X 12 checkerboard) and the Background noise (startle response)
Graphs that show this:
Extraneous stimulus of light (strong)
results in the recovery of the previously
habituated behavior but it goes back down
again in the one on the left.
Graph shows: When their