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Lecture 10

Psychology 1000 Lecture Notes - Lecture 10: Aversion Therapy, Neural Adaptation, Vending Machine

Course Code
PSYCH 1000
Derek Quinlan

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Chapter 7 Psych 1000 Week 6
Learning & Adaptation: The Role of Experience
Learning: process by which experience produces a relatively enduring change in
an organism’s behavior or capabilities
Capabilities highlights a distinction: “knowing how”, or “doing” or
e.g., experience may provide us with immediate knowledge, but in science
we must measure learning by actual changes in performance
Adaptive to the Environment
How Do We Learn? The Search for Mechanisms
Behaviorists assume there are laws of learning that apply to all organism
Each species responds in predictable ways to rewards or punishment
Learning relates to importance of adapting to environment
Culture = the human-made part of our environment
Habituation & Sensitization
Habituation: decrease in the strength of response to a repeated stimulus
Simplest form of learning
Adaptive function, e.g., don’t respond constantly to clothes on skin
Helps conserve energy; attend only to other stimuli that are important
Also plays a role in studying behavior: habituation in naturalistic study
Different from sensory adaptation
o i.e., it is a simple form of learning that occurs in the CNS
o You may habituate to a stimulus, but sensory info still there if it
becomes relevant
Sensitization: increase in the strength of response to a repeated stimulus
e.g., startle response increases if repeated exposure to loud tone
Each tone elicits a stronger response, i.e., you have shown sensitization
Tends to occur to strong/noxious stimuli
Purpose: increase responses to a potentially dangerous stimulus
Classical Conditioning: Associating One Stimulus with Another
Classical conditioning: an organism learns to associate two stimuli (e.g., a song
and a pleasant event), such that one stimulus (the song) comes to produce a
response (feeling happy) that originally was produced only by the other stimulus
(the pleasurable event)
Basic form of learning; like habituation and sensitization
Involves learning an association between stimuli
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Chapter 7 Psych 1000 Week 6
Pavlov’s Pioneering Research
Presented various types of food to dogs and measured natural salivary response
With repeated testing, dogs began to salivate before the food was presented
e.g., hearing steps of the experimenter with food
Tone would not originally may dogs salivate
When tone went off before food went into dogs mouth, they would salivate
Adaptive: alerts organisms to stimuli that signal arrival of important event
Basic Principles
= Period during with a response is being learned
Neutral stimulus: does not elicit (i.e., trigger) the salivation response
i.e., sounding the tone in the initial steps
When food is put into mouth, the dog then salivates
Unconditioned stimulus: the food
Unconditioned response: salivation
The salivation response to food is reflexing (requires no learning), because
no learning is required for the food to produce salivation, the food is the
UCS and the salivation is the UCR
Next, food and tone are paired (i.e., a learning trial)
When the dog salivates when there is no food:
Conditioned stimulus the tone
Conditioned response: salivation
UCR and CR salivation
When UCR: this is a natural, unlearned (unconditioned) reflex
When CR: tone; this CR represents a learned (conditioned) response
CS must be paired multiple times with a UCS to establish a strong CR
Tone became a CS more rapidly when followed with greater amounts of food
When UCS is intense, conditioning may require only one UCS-CS pairing
e.g., fear of cars after a single accident
Riding care becomes CS after only on pairing with crash (i.e., UCS)
Fear was UCR; can be CR when triggered by sight of cars or thought of
Sequence and time interval of CS-UCS pairing also affects conditioning
(1) Forward short-delay pairing: CS (tone) appears first and is still present
when the UCS (food) appears
(2) Forward trace pairing: the tone would come on and off, and afterward
the tone would be presented
(3) Simultaneous pairing: produces less rapid conditioning
(4) Backward pairing: learning is slowest; may not occur at all
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Chapter 7 Psych 1000 Week 6
Extinction & Spontaneous Recovery
Way to eliminate CR when it is no longer appropriate
If CS presented repeatedly in absence of UCS, CR weakens and then disappears
i.e., extinction
Even when extinguished, does not mean all traces of it are erased
e.g., car accident: if one goes to the site many times, they may extinguish
the CR, but if take a long break and then goes back, CR may come back
The weakened but reappearance of the CR = spontaneous recovery
i.e., reappearance of previously extinguished CR after a rest period and
w/o new learning trials
CR extinguished more rapidly in the absence of the UCS
This is the reason treatment of phobias requires multiple sessions
Generalization & Discrimination
Once CR is acquired, organism responds to original CS, but also similar stimuli
e.g., original = high-tone salivate; similar = medium-tone salivate
Generalization: stimuli similar to the initial CS elicit a CR
Adaptive: e.g., rustling in bush, animal may want to escape because it
sounds similar to what they think it is; if they just responded to the exact
stimulus, they’d get eaten every time; some will be false alarms, but better
safe than sorry
Discrimination: when a CR (e.g., alarm reaction) occurs to one stimulus (e.g., a
sound) but not to others
Can’t react to every sound, or else would exhaust self with stress
Must distinguish irrelevant sounds from those that may signal danger
Pairing CS with UCS combined with pairing similar stimuli with no
consequences leads to discrimination, and loss of generalized responses to
other similar stimuli
Higher-Order Conditioning
= Neutral stimulus becomes CS after being paired with an already established CS
A higher-order CS produces a weaker CFR and extinguishes quicker than original
e.g., dog will salivate less to the black square + will extinguish sooner
Applications of Classical Conditioning
Acquiring & Overcoming Fear
Behaviorists: view that snakes have become a fear-triggering CS because of
pairing with an aversive UCS (e.g., injury) and stimulus generalization
Study to obtain evidence that fear could be conditioned:
Little Albert
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