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Introduction to Psychology I: Course Notes P3

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Steve Joordens

12 November 2012Learning Learning involves the acquisition of new knowledge skills or responses from experience that result in a relatively permanent change in the state of the learner This definition emphasizes these key ideasLearning is based on experienceLearning produces changes in the organismThese changes are relatively permanent The emphasis will be primarily on stimulusresponse mappings and how they are formed There will be very little discussion of cognitive states or processes which contrasts quite strongly with the methods that are more popular today Behaviorists argued that learnings permanent change in experience could be demonstrated equally well in almost any organism rats dogs pigeons mice pigs or humans Behaviorists viewed learning as a purely behavioral John B Watson kickstarted the behaviorist movement Watsons firebrand stance was fueled in large part by the work of a Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov Pavlov was awarded for his work on the salivation of dogs Pavlov studied the digestive processes of laboratory animals by surgically implanting test tubes into the cheeks of dogs to measure their salivary responses to different kinds of foods The occurrence of some novel stimulus in the environment UCS tends to lead to a startle response UCR However if the stimulus occurs repeatedly without any positive of negative consequence the startle response stops occurring This is a process called habituation IE Those weird house noises you no longer hear airplanes at my old place a dogs reflection Basically if the UCR proves itself unnecessary in the presence of some UCS the UCR may occur less and less In 1904 a Russian scientist named Ivan Pavlov stumbled across an interesting phenomenon while studying how the canine digestive system worked This phenomenon has come to be called classical conditioning and it explains how new stimuli can come to be associated with certain behavioural responses Pavlovs is now known as one of the most influential figures in psychology and his experiments helped to start the wave of behaviourism that ruled psychology for many yearsThe development and basic principles of two major approaches to learning Classical Conditioning occurs when a neutral stimulus produces a response after being paired with a stimulus that naturally produces a response Operant Conditioning is atype of learning in which the consequences of an organisms behavior determine whether it will be repeated in the futureClassical Conditioning Pavlov showed that dogs learned to salivate to neutral stimuli such as a bell or a tone after that stimulus had been associated with another stimulus that naturally evokes salivation such as food Setup involved cradling dogs in a harness to administer the foods and to measure the salivary response as shown in He noticed that dogs that previously had been in the experiment began to produce a kind of anticipatory salivary response as soon as they were put in the harness before any food was presentedThe four basic elements of classical conditioning Placing food in front of most animals will launch the salivary process The presentation of food an unconditioned stimulus US or something that reliably produces a naturally occurring reaction in an organismDogs salivation an unconditioned response UR or a reflexive reaction that is reliably produced by an unconditioned stimulusDiscovered that he could make the dogs salivate to stimuli that dont usually make animals salivate such as the sound of a buzzer Conditioned stimulus CS or a stimulus that is initially neutral and produces no reliable response in an organismWhen the conditioned stimulus CS in this case the sound of a buzzer is paired over time with the unconditioned stimulus US or the food the animal will learn to associate food with the sound and eventually the CS is sufficient to produce a response or salivation The conditioned response CR or a reaction that resembles an unconditioned response but is produced by a conditioned stimulus The dogs salivation CR was eventually prompted by the sound of the buzzer CS alone because the sound of the buzzer and the food US had been associated so often in the past Technically the salivation is not a UR the naturally occurring reflexive reaction to the presentation of food because it is produced instead by the CS the sound of the buzzer Pavlovs Experiment BaselineAt the beginning of the experiment if a bell was rung near the dog it did not salivateHowever if food UCS was presented to the dog it would salivate UCROver a number of trials the bell the CS or conditioned stimulus is rung just before the food is deliveredAfter a number of conditioning trials if the CS is presented alone it will typically lead to a conditioned response which is similar in form if not degree to the unconditioned stimulusWe come equipped with many stimulus response mappings that simply reflect our machinery in action IE When we put food in our mouths digestive processes are initiated If a projectile is coming at our face we close our eyes duck our heads raise our hands and sometimes hold our breathWhen we hear a creepy noise or otherwise sense potential danger our sympathetic nervous system kicks in at least a little These associations are the produce of evolution or creation and the components of them are labeled as unconditioned stimuli UCS or US and unconditioned responses UCR or UR IE Food UCSDigestive Process UCRConditioning produced learned behaviors An organism experiences events or stimuli that are observable and measurable and changes in that organism can be directly observed and measured There was no need to consider the mind in this classical conditioning paradigm Learning through classical conditioning requires some period of association between the CS and US Acquisition is the phase of classical conditioning when the CS and the US are presented together Pavlovs dogs gradually increased their amount of salivation over several trials of pairing a tone with the presentation of food SecondOrder Conditioning is conditioning where the stimulus that functions as the US is actually the CS from an earlier procedure in which it acquired its ability to produce learning Pavlov repeatedly paired a new CS a black square with the now reliable tone After a number of training trials his dogs produced a salivary response to the black square even though the square itself had never been directly associated with the food IE Money is initially used to purchase objects that produce gratifying outcomes such as an expensive car Although money is not directly associated with the thrill of a drive in a new sports car through secondorder conditioning money can become linked with this type of desirable quality
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