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CHAPTER 6 Learning

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Wagner Denton

1 CHAPTER 6: Learning Learning  Learning: An enduring change in behaviour, resulting from experience  Conditioning: A process in which environmental stimuli and behavioural responses become connected o Classical (or Pavlovian) conditioning: Occurs when we learn that two types of events go together o Operant (or Instrumental) conditioning: Occurs when we learn that a behaviour leads to particular outcome Classical Conditioning  A type of learning in which a neutral stimulus comes to elicit a reflexive response because it has become associated with a stimulus that already produces that response  Key Terms: o Unconditioned stimulus (US) o Unconditioned response (UR) o Conditioned stimulus (CS) o Conditioned response (CR)  Acquisition: The gradual formation of an association between the conditioned and unconditioned stimuli  Extinction: A process in which the conditioned response is weakened when the conditioned stimulus is repeatedly presented without the unconditioned stimulus  Spontaneous recovery: A process in which a previously extinguished response re- emerges following presentation of the conditioned stimulus 2  Stimulus generalization: Occurs when stimuli that are similar but not identical to the conditioned stimulus produce the conditioned response  Stimulus discrimination: A differentiation between two similar stimuli when only one of them is consistently associated with the unconditioned stimulus  Second-order conditioning: When something is consistently paired with the conditioned stimulus, without the unconditioned stimulus, and leads to a conditioned response Classical Conditioning: Later Developments  Not all CS-CR pairings are the same  Some associations are easier to learn than others. E.g., flavour + illness  Conditioned food aversion: Associating a particular food with an unpleasant outcome (i.e., illness). Can be formed in one trial, even if the illness doesn’t occur right away  Biological preparedness: Refers to the idea that animals are genetically programmed to fear some objects more than others o E.g., phobias about snakes and heights are more common than phobias about squirrels and staplers  But what about cognition?  Why is a slight delay between the CS and US optimal for learning?  Prediction o In order for learning to take place, the CS must accurately predict the US  Rescorla-Wagner model: A cognitive model of classical conditioning which states that the strength of the CS-US association is determined by the extent to which the US is unexpected or surprising o Because this leads to greater effort by the animal to understand why the US appeared  what is in the environment that may have produced this event? Operant Conditioning  A learning process in which the consequences of an action determine the likelihood that it will be performed in the future  Key terms: o Positive and negative reinforcement o Positive and negative punishment o Schedules of reinforcement: Fixed, variable, ratio, interval  Thorndike’s Law of Effect: Any behaviour that leads to a “satisfying state of affairs” will more likely occur again, and any behaviour that leads to an “annoying state of affairs” will less likely recur 3  Reinforcer: A stimulus that occurs after a response and increases the likelihood that the response will be repeated o Primary versus seco
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