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PSYC 101 CHPT. 7.docx

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PSYC 101
Barbara Cox

PSYC 101, 007 Chpt. 7 Learning and Behaviour I. The Nature of Learning Learning:  A relatively permanent change in observable behaviour the results from experience with the environment  A relatively permanent change in the part of the nervous system that underlies an observable behaviour that results from experience with the environment -> definition preferred by prof  Can only draw conclusions about what is asked  Damage, injury changes behaviour but isn’t learning  Developmental maturation is also excluded from the definition of learning Habituation:  Is the simplest form of learning  Is learning not to respond to an unimportant event that occurs repeatedly  A Non-associative form of learning: same stimulus over and over again that is leading to the change in behaviour Kandel  Eric Kandel started working on mechanisms of learning  Had to take a reductionist approach, one cell at a time to understand the brain  Have to use a model to help study the brain since humans have trillion neurons & too difficult to map  So Kandel studied the neural system of Aplysia, a sea hare/slug with very large nerve cells (20,000 neurons)  If we get the response back right away, then we know it is a learning phenomenon, not fatigue  Habituation in Aplysia: startle response decrements after each time it’s startled, Aplysia learns to ignore stimuli Changes in shape of neurons after long-term sensitization long-term habituation  Sensitization- turns your reactions up  Sensitized animals have a bigger startle response than normal  Brains of animals that are sensitized show more dendrites  Conversely, habituated animals have fewer dendrites.  Sensitized animal neuron structure- more active zones, more vesicles at the active zones  Habituated animal neuron structure- fewer active zones, fewer vesicles at the active zones Short-Term Habituation:  temporary  tapping petri dish causes C.elegans to swim backwards  after multiple taps, withdrawal response of C.elegans decreases & stops= C. elegans have habituated, learned to not respond to the taps  tap again after a few days, find that the withdrawal response reoccurs = dishabituation  C.elegans continues to swim backward after several more taps, then learns to not respond to taps again  takes just as long for habituation to occur as it did before Long-term Habituation:  animals with more complex nervous systems are capable of this  behaviour has habituated to stimuli & does not respond to it any longer  we may complain of unfamiliar noises when move into new house but after a while, we don’t notice or think about the sounds anymore b/c we’ve habituated to them Distinguishing Between Short-term & Long-term Habituation:  pattern of experience- massed training vs. space/distributed training  if stimuli are massed into quick repetition, habituation is rapid but short term  when stimuli are presented in small group that are spaced over time, habituation is slower but long-term II. History of Learning  Pavlov- physician who spent 20 years studying digestive system by using dogs, 30 years studying learning  While he studied the digestive system he noticed one thing -> led to what is known as classical conditioning  When a dog that has been used in the experiment for a longer time, the dog drooled before they were shown food, the dogs anticipated the food, knew food was coming  But Pavlov believed behaviour was based on reflexes, all the of answers would be found in physiology and that psychology had little to offer  His own research proved him wrong  Showed the reflexes could be learned Classical Conditioning  Individuals came to associate 2 stimuli  Ex. we hear thunder, know there will be lightening too  Begins with a reflex or automatic response  A neutral stimulus is paired with a stimulus that produces the reflex  Neutral stimulus eventually comes to control the reflex  Unconditioned stimulus (US) - effective stimulus that unconditionally, automatically and naturally triggers a response  Unconditioned response (UR)- unlearned, naturally occurring automatic response to the unconditioned stimulus  salivation when food is in the mouth  Conditioned stimulus (CS) - a previously neural stimulus that, after association with an unconditioned stimulus, comes to trigger a conditioned response  Conditioned response (CR) - learned response to a previously neutral conditioned stimulus  Acquisition- an increase in the intensity of the behaviour if the CS is presented along  Extinction- a decrease in the intensity of the behaviour if the CS is presented alone  diminishing of CR  when the Unconditioned Stimulus (US) does not follow the Conditioned Stimulus (CS)  Spontaneous Recovery- after an interval of time, the reappearance of a response that had previous been extinguished  Fruit fly associative learning experiment:  Fruit flies have hundreds of thousands of neurons  They are capable of short-term & long-term memory  They were conditioned to associate a certain odour with electric shock Emotional Conditioning  Our emotions are very susceptible to classical conditioning  Fears and phobias can be very easily conditioned  Example: Little Albert experiment by John B. Watson  Albert was afraid of loud clanging noises, made him cry  Watson let Albert see the white rat and hear the noise, Albert would cry  Albert became scared of the white rat or any white furry objects -> a generalized fear Generalizing and Discriminating between Stimuli  Stimulus generalization- in classical conditioning, CRs elicited by stimuli that resemble the CS used in training  Stimulus discrimination- in classical conditioning, the appearance of a CR when one specific stimulus is presented but not another Conditioned Taste Aversion  One-trial learning  Has to be a new taste  Can be long CS-US interval  Retained for long time  Adaptive for organism foraging for food  Evolution has adopted aversive classical conditioning as a survival strategy  Ex. bird has learned not to eat Monarch butterflies b/c bird vomited after eating it  The principle can be used to control predation to an extent  Farmers can purposefully poison one of their animals for predators to find.  Poisoned corpse will cause predators to become sick  Predators stop eating that type of animal for fear of becoming sick again  Alcohol blocks long-term memory, blocks this process  People who create advertisements have learned to use classical conditioning principles as well  Conditioned stimulus (product) -> unconditioned stimulus (attractive person)-> unconditioned response (pleasant feeling)  Examples of classical conditioned emotional responses are all around us  To a student, sound of the bell at end of class  Sound of a siren behind us as we drive  Sound of a dentist’s drill  The smell of chocolate Applying the Principles of Classical Conditioning  Treatment of phobias  Phobias are an unreasonable fear of specific objects or situations, learned through classical conditioning.
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