PSYCH481 Lecture Notes - Siamese Fighting Fish, Classical Conditioning, Habituation

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25 Nov 2012
Chapter 5: Learning and Behaviour
Learning – an adpative process in which the tendency to perform particular
behaviour is changed by experience
as conditions change we learn new behaviours and eliminate old ones
learning can only be observed through behaviour, but some behaviour is not
a result of learning, and some learning doesnt produce a change is
experience alters chemistry of brain – these alterations affect how NS responds
to subsequent events
Performance – behavioural change produced by internal changes brought
about by learning (evidence that learning has occured)
factors such as fatigue and motivation can affect behaviour so psychologists
also look for specific aspects of performance such as durability and specifity
three types of learning: habituation, classical conditioning, operant
all involve cause and effect relationships with environment and behaviour
learn which stimuli are trivial and which are important; learn to make adaptive
responses and to avoid maladaptive ones; learn to recognize conditions that
reponse would be useful or if more appropriate reponse exists
these types of learning are building blocks for complex behaviours
we react automatically to events:
orienting response – organism directs appropriate sensory organ toward
source of novel stimulus
habituation – simplest form of learning: learning not to respond to an
unimportant event that occurs repeatedly
George Humphrey – experiment with snails, got used to tapping so wouldnt
retreat into shell
from evolutionary perspective – waste of time and energy
Wicks and Rankin – used worm Nemoda and subjected them to taps or heat
found that this withdrawing effect occurs through neurons that respond to
mechanical stimulus, regardless of stimulus
could produce habituation to tap-elicited stimulus but not to heat – shows
they learned something about tap and could distinguish it from reaction to
source of heat
only had 302 neurons in NS
short term habituation – simplest form
long term habituation animals with more complex nervous system
pattern of experience plays a role in distinguishing long-term and short-term:
when sitmuli are massed into quick repetitions, habituation is rapid but ST
when sitmuli are presented in small groups that are spaced over time,
habituation is slower but LT
evidence that 2 different neural mechanisms are responsible for this
Classical Conditioning:
invovled learning about conditions that predict that a significant event will
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Pavlov – noticed dogs salivated when they saw research assistant come into
room so he set up experiment with bell and food and dogs learned to salivate
when they heard bell ring
Classical Conditioning – process by which a response normally elicitied by
one stimulus (UCS) comes to be controlled by another stimulus (CS) as well
sequence and timing is important
unconditional stimulus – stimulus that naturally elicits a reflexive response
unconditional response - behaviour itself that is naturally elicited by UCS
conditional stimulus – stimulus that, because of repeated association with
UCS, eventually elicits conditional response
conditional response – response elicited by CR
Biological Significance of Classical Conditioning:
two funcitons:
ability to learn to recognize stimuli that predicts occurence of an important
event allows learner to make appropriate response faster and more
siamese fighting fish more likely to win fight if they were given stimulus
(CS) that intruding male (UCS) would enter territory
blue gouramis more likely to mate sooner and produce more offspring
when they received stimulus (CS) signalling approaching female (UCS)
learning that occurs with biologically significant UCS is more resistant to
subsequent modifications
stimuli that were previously unimportant acquire some properties of
important stimuli with which they have been associated and thus become
able to modify behaviour
neutral stimulus becomes desirable when it is associated with desirable
stimulus or becomes undesirable when it is associated with undesirable
specific properties of UCS become associated with CS - UCS takes on
symbolic value
Ward-Robinson – demonstrated this with pigeons where they pecked at
light when sound went on (paired sound CS with food UCS)
adaptive significance is so general that even nematode exhibits it
Wen – placed worms in solution of Na+ or Cl- with bacteria; when placed with
patches on ions and no bacteria, worm migrated to ions thinking there was
Basic Principles of Classical Conditioning:
discovered 7 interesting phenomena: acquisition, extinction, spontaneous
recovery, stimulus generalization, and discrimination
acquisition – time during wich CR appears and increases in frequency
strength of CR is influenced by: intesity of UCS and timing of CS and UCS
more intense UCS produces rapid learning
more intense UCS stronger the CR is
classical conditioning occurs fastest when CS occurs shorlty before UCS and
both end at same time
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0.5 seconds is optimal delay between onset of CS and UCS
little conditioning if CS follows UCS, or if too long or short delay will be
slower and weaker
Extinction and Spontaneous Recovery:
extinction – elimination of a response that occurs when CS is repeatedly
presented without being followed by UCS
participant learns that CS is no longer followed by UCS – if neither are
presented then extinction doesn't occur
doesn't necessarily disappear permanently
spontaneous recovery – after an interval of time, reappearance of response
that had previously extinguished
Stimulus Generalization and Discrimination:
generalization – CR elicited by stimuli that resembles CS used in training
once response has been conditioned to CS similar stimuli will also elicit that
more stimuli resembles CS more likely it will elicit CR
discrimination – appearance of CR when one stimulus is presented (CR+) but
not another one (CR-) accomplished by using 2 CS during training – one is
followed by the UCS and another isn't
involes learning difference between 2 or more stimuli
Conditioned Emotional Responses:
many stimuli are able to arouse emotional response (disgust, contempt, fear,
anger, sadness, tenderness, longing, or sexual desire)
many had no special signifance but were paired with stimuli that elicited strong
emotional reaction so they acquired emotional or evaluative signifance
Todrank, Byrnes, Wrzesniewski, and Rozin – people associated pleasant
or unpleasant odour with attractive or unactriveness of person in photograph
phobias – unreasonable fear of specific onjects or situations learned through
classical learning
at some time early in life person was exposed to now-fearsome object in
conjunction with stimulus that elicited pain or fear
classical conditioning can occur without direct experience with CS or UCS –
can be learned through observation (vicariously)
imaginary episodes that we picture as we hear or read story (UCS) can
provide imaginary stimuli (CS) that lead to real conditional emotional
responses (CR)
therapists use knowledge of principles of learning to eliminate them
suggestions that biologically relevant stimuli are especially prone to
classically conditioned emotional responses
What is learned in Classical Conditioning:
research shows that for classical conditioning to occur, CS must be reliable
predictor of UCS
neutral stimulus becomes a CS only when following conditions are satisfied:
CS regularly occurs prior to presentation of UCS
CS does not regularly occur when UCS is absent
principle has been clearly established by conditioning phenomenon known as
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