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Chapter 7 - Learning & Adaptation - Role of Experience.docx

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Western University
Psychology 1000

Learning & Adaptation: Role of Experience  Learning o Process by which experience produces a relatively enduring change in an organism's behaviour or capabilities  Capabilities o Distinction made: ―knowing how,‖ or learning, versus ―doing,‖ or performance o Ex. Experience may provide immediate knowledge but in science, must measure learning by changes in performance  Observational Learning o Learn by watching others behave Adapting To Environment  Learning o Process of personal adaptation to changing circumstances How Does Learning Occur: Search For Mechanisms  Behaviourists o Focused on how organisms learn, examining the processes by which experience influences behaviour o Assumed that there are laws of learning that apply to all organisms o Concept of learning  importance of personally adapting to environment  Personal Adaptation o Occurs through the laws of learning that the behaviourists examined o Results from our interactions with immediate and past environments  Not all learned behaviour is adaptive (Ex. problem gambling)  Cognitive Perspective o Interest in biological factors, and the emergence of cross-cultural psychology influence understanding of learning o Cognitive and biological factors play important roles in learning o Culture has important impact on learning Habituation & Sensitization Habituation  Decrease in the strength of response to a repeated stimulus  Simplest form of learning  Key adaptive function  Conserve energy and can attend to other stimuli that are important  Examples o Touch the skin of a sea snail, and will reflexively contract its gill – overtime action habituates o Don't constantly respond to the pressure of clothing on your skin  Versus Sensory Adaptation o Sensory Adaptation  Refers to a decreased sensory response to a continuously present stimulus  Ex.  Enter a bakery, notice the smell of freshly baked bread  Stay in the bakery  olfactory system adapts and smell becomes less noticeable o Habituation  Simple form of learning that occurs within the central nervous system, not within the sensory neurons  May habituate to a stimulus, but that sensory information is still available if it becomes relevant  Ex.  Habituate to the feeling of your clothing against your skin  Tactile information has been presented continuously with no important consequences, so you no longer notice it  If, there is reason to become aware of skin sensations, suddenly become keenly aware of all the light Sensitization  Increase in the strength of response to a repeated stimulus o Especially dangerous stimulus  Ex. o If a loud tone is sounded, organism will show the startle reflex o Orient to the sound; their muscle tension increases rapidly; and they jump and may vocalize o Repeated presentation of loud tone increases intensity of startle response o Ex. Static electric shock o Touch one object – spark occurs o Touch another metal object and receive a second shock o Jump a little more, pull hand back a little more quickly, and show a slightly stronger emotional reaction Classical Conditioning: Associating One Stimulus with Another  Organism learns to associate two stimuli o Ex. Song & pleasant event  One stimulus (song) comes to produce a response (feeling happy) that originally was produced only by the other stimulus (pleasurable event)  Basic form of learning  Involves learning an association between stimuli Pavlov’s Pioneering Research  Conducting research on digestion in dogs that won him the Nobel Prize in 1904  Presented various types of food to dogs and measured natural salivary response  Made an accidental but important discovery through astute observation  Noticed that with repeated testing, dogs began to salivate before food was presented -- when they heard the footsteps of approaching experimenter  Dogs have a natural reflex to salivate to food but not to tones  Yet when tone or other stimulus that did not cause salivation was presented before food powder was squirted directly into a dog's mouth, sound of the tone alone made dog salivate  Type of learning by association came to be called classical or Pavlovian conditioning  Basic learning process that performs a key adaptive function  Alerts organisms to stimuli that signal the impending arrival of an important event  If salivation could be conditioned, so can other bodily processes Basic Principles  Principles of conditioning Acquisition  Refers to the period during which a response is being learned  Neutral Stimulus o Sounding the tone initially may cause the dog to perk up its ears and stare at us oddly, but not to salivate o Does not elicit (trigger) the salivation response  Unconditioned Stimulus (UCS) / Response (UCR) o Place food in the dog's mouth, the dog will salivate o Salivation response to food is reflexive—what dogs do by nature o No learning is required for the food to produce salivation o Food is called an unconditioned stimulus (UCS) o Salivation is an unconditioned response (UCR)  Learning Trial o Tone and the food are paired—each pairing is a learning trial  Conditioned Stimulus (CS) / Response (CR) o After several learning trials, when the tone is presented by itself, the dog salivates even though there is no food o Through Association  Tone has become a conditioned stimulus (CS)  Salivation has become a conditioned response (CR) o During acquisition, a CS typically must be paired multiple times with a UCS to establish a strong CR o Pavlov also found that a tone became a CS more rapidly when it was followed by greater amounts of food o Indeed, when the UCS is intense and aversive—such as an electric shock or a traumatic event—conditioning may require only one CS-UCS pairing  Sequence and time interval of the CS-UCS pairing affect conditioning  Forward Short-Delay Pairing o Learning usually occurs most quickly o CS (tone) appears first and is still present when the UCS (food) appears  Forward Trace Pairing o Tone would come on and off, and afterward the food would be presented  Forward Pairing o Optimal for the CS to appear no more than two or three seconds before the UCS o Has adaptive value because the CS signals the impending arrival of the UCS  Simultaneous Pairing o Presenting the CS and UCS at the same time o Produces less rapid conditioning  Backward Pairing o Learning is slowest, or does not occur at all o CS is presented after the UCS Extinction and Spontaneous Recovery  Way of eliminating the CR when it is no longer appropriate  Extinction o If CS is presented repeatedly in the absence of UCS, CR weakens and eventually disappears o Each presentation of CS without UCS is called an extinction trial o Occasional re-pairings of CS and UCS are required to maintain CR  Spontaneous Recovery o Not all traces are erased – can reappear o Reappearance of a previously extinguished CR after a rest period and without new learning trials o Weaker than the initial CR and extinguishes more rapidly in the absence of the UCS Generalization & Discrimination  Stimulus Generalization o Once a CR is acquired, organism often responds not only to original CS, but also to stimuli that are similar to it o Serves critical adaptive functions  Discriminate o Used to prevent stimulus generalization from running amok o Detect differences between stimuli o Ex. Demonstrated when a CR (such as an alarm reaction) occurs to one stimulus (a sound) but not to others o Organisms can be taught, through conditioning, to behaviourally discriminate two stimuli Higher-Order Conditioning  Higher-order conditioning o Neutral stimulus becomes a CS after being paired with an already established Cs o Higher-order CS produces a CR that is weaker and extinguishes more rapidly than the original CR o Dog will salivate less to the black square than to the tone, and its response to the square will extinguish sooner Applications of Classical Conditioning Acquiring and Overcoming Fear  Ex. Behaviourist view is that snakes have become a fear-triggering CS because of pairing with an aversive UCS (such as injury) and stimulus generalization  Almost any explanation can seem plausible when it is provided after some event occurs  Little Albert o John B. Watson and Rosalie Rayner (1920) o Studied an 11-month-old infant named Albert o Albert played in a hospital room – showed him a white rat - displayed no sign of fear o Knowing that he was afraid of loud noises, hit a steel bar, making a loud noise as they showed the rat - noise scared Albert and made him cry o After several rat–noise pairings, the sight of the rat made Albert cry o Displayed no fear when shown coloured blocks, but furry white or grey objects, such as a rabbit and a bearded Santa Claus mask, made him cry – Generalization o By the time Albert left the hospital, he had not been exposed to any treatment designed to extinguish his fear  Some fears are conditioned o Afraid of neutral stimuli that are paired with a feared stimulus o Behavioural treatments partly based on classical conditioning principles are among the most effective psychotherapies for phobias o Key assumption is that if phobias are learned, they can be ―unlearned‖  Exposure Therapies o Basic goal is to expose the phobic patient to the feared stimulus (CS) without any UCS, allowing extinction to occur  Systematic Densensitization o Mental imagery, real-life situations, or both can be used to present the phobic stimulus o Patient learns muscular relaxation techniques and then is gradually exposed to the fear-provoking stimulus  Flooding o Immediately exposes the person to the phobic stimulus Conditioned Attraction and Aversion  Much of what attracts and pleasurably arouses us is influenced by classical conditioning o Ex. ―It really turns me on when you wear that‖ reflects how an outfit or the scent can become a conditioned stimulus for arousal  Originally neutral stimuli can trigger sexual arousal after they have been paired with a naturally arousing UCS  Classical conditioning also can decrease our arousal and attraction to stimuli  Aversion Therapy o Attempts to condition an aversion (a repulsion) to a stimulus that triggers unwanted behaviour by pairing it with a noxious UCS o Ex. Reduce an alcoholic's attraction to alcohol, patient is given a drug that induces severe nausea when alcohol is consumed  Constraints on Learning o Ex. Easier to condition fear to some stimuli than others; seem to be biologically prepared to easily learn to fear stimuli such as heights, snakes, spiders, and bats  Classical conditioning can affect our physical health o Allergic responses occur when immune system overreacts and releases too many antibodies to combat pollen, dust, or other allergens o When neutral stimulus (such as a distinct odour) is repeatedly paired with natural allergen (the UCS), it can become CS that triggers an allergic CR o Asthma patients' wheezing attacks also can be triggered by CS Operant Conditioning: Learning Through Consequences  Emitted (voluntary) responses, and they are learned in a different way  Ex. How dogs learn to sit on command, driving cars, using computers, making friends, or be good citizens Throndike’s Law of Effect  Thorndike - exploring how animals learn to solve problems  Built a special cage, puzzle box, that could open from the inside by pulling a string or stepping on a lever  Placed a hungry animal, such as a cat, inside the box  Food was put outside, and to get it the animal had to learn how to open the box  Cat scratched and pushed the bars, paced, and tried to dig through the floor  By chance, eventually stepped on the lever, opening the door  Performance slowly improved with repeated trials  Overtime the cat learned to press the lever soon after the door was shut  Performance improved slowly o Animals did not attain ―insight‖ into the solution o Trail-and-error – gradually eliminated responses that failed to open door – more likely to perform actions that worked  Proposed Instrumental Learning o Organism’s behaviour is instrumental in bringing about certain outcomes  Law of Effect o In a given situation, a response followed by a ―satisfying‖ consequence will become more likely to occur, and a response followed by an unsatisfying outcome will become less likely to occur o Foundation for the school of behaviourism Skinner’s Analysis of Operant Conditioning  Skinner coined the term Operant Behaviour o Organism operates on its environment in some way; it emits responses that produce certain consequences  Operant Conditioning o Type of learning in which behaviour is influenced by its consequences o Responses that produce favourable consequences tend to be repeated, whereas responses that produce unfavourable consequences become less likely to occur o Viewed it as a type of ―natural selection‖ – facilitates personal adaptation  Skinner Box o Skinner designed a special chamber o Study operant conditioning experimentally o Lever on one wall is positioned above a small cup, and a food pellet automatically drops into the cup whenever a rat presses the lever o Hungry rat is put into the chamber and, as it moves about, it accidentally presses the lever o Food pellet clinks into the cup and the rat eats it quickly o Record the rat's behaviour on a cumulative recorder, and find that it presses the bar more and more frequently over time  Consequences o Reinforcement  Response is strengthened by an outcome that follows it  Strengthen  Increase in the frequency of a response  Reinforcers o Outcome (stimulus) that increase frequency o Ex. Food pellets o Punishment  Response is weakened by outcomes that follow it  Ex. electric shock when lever pressed  Punisher  Observable effects on behaviour ABCs of Operant Conditioning  Skinner's analysis involves three kinds of events o Antecedents (A)  Which are stimuli that are present before a behaviour occurs o Behaviours (B)  Organism emits o Consequences (C)  Follow the behaviours  Contingencies o Relations between A and B, and between B and C o Jessie's behaviour of sitting is contingent on my saying ―Sit  Key Differences between classical and operant conditioning: o Classical Conditioning  Organism learns an association between two stimuli—the CS and UCS (tone and food)—that occurs before the behaviour (salivation)  Focuses on elicited behaviours  Conditioned response is triggered involuntarily, almost like a reflex, by a stimulus that precedes it o Operant Conditioning  Organism learns an association between behaviour and its consequences  Behaviour changes because of events that occur after it  Focuses on emitted behaviours:  Organism generates responses (pressing a lever) that are under its physical control  Classical and operant conditioning are different processes o Many learning situations involve both o Ex. Mere sight of raising the chalk to the board became a CS that automatically triggered a CR of shivers up spine o Signal to put my fingers in ears (an operant response), which was reinforced by the desirable consequence of reducing the squeaking sound Antecedent Conditions: Identifying When To Respond  Antecedent may be a general situation or specific stimulus  Discriminative Stimulus o Signal that a particular response will now produce certain consequences o ―Set the occasion‖ for operant responses o Ex.  Cat-Lever-Food  Skinner box is the antecedent condition  Place a light on the wall above the lever  Light on  pressing the lever dispenses food  Soon learned to press the lever only when the light is on  Light is discriminative stimulus  Hungry  Food on plate: discriminative stimulus - start eating Consequences: Determining How To Respond  Behaviour is governed by its consequences Positive Reinforcement  Behaviour is reinforced by desirable outcomes  Being presented with a stimulus we find pleasing represents a desirable outcome  A response is strengthened by the subsequent presentation of a stimulus  Positive Reinforcers  Food, drink, comforting physical contact, attention, praise, & money  Reward is not synonymous with positive reinforcement Negative Reinforcement  Getting rid of something aversive—or avoiding something that is anticipated to be aversive—also is a good outcome  Ex. Take Aspirin to relieve headaches, children clean up their rooms to stop their parents' nagging, and use umbrellas when it rains to avoid getting wet  Response is strengthened by the subsequent removal or avoidance of a stimulus - negative reinforcer  Different from punishment  Punishment weakens a response  Reinforcement - means that a response is being strengthened Operant Extinction  Weakening and eventual disappearance of a response because it is no longer reinforced  Resistance to Extinction o Degree to which non-reinforced responses persist is called resistance to extinction o May stop quickly (low resistance) o May keep occurring multiple times (high resistance) o Ex. People who solicit charitable donations do not stop just because 100 passers-by in a row fail to give money Positive/Aversive Punishment  Involves actively applying aversive stimuli, such as painful slaps, electric shock, and verbal reprimands  Response is weakened by the subsequent presentation of a stimulus  Ex. Spanking or scolding a child for misbehaving, child's touching a hot stovetop burner  Often is subtle  Produces rapid results – important to stop a dangerous behaviour  Limitations o Suppresses behaviour but does not cause the organism to forget how to make the response o Suppression may not generalize to other relevant situations o Arouses negative emotions, such as fear and anger, which can produce dislike and avoidance of the person delivering the punishment o Physical - may set a bad example Negative Punishment – Response Cost  Attempts to punish behaviour by taking away something that an organism desires or finds satisfying  Ex. Monetary fines, loss of privileges, and groundings  ―That'll cost you‖  Response is weakened by the subsequent removal of a stimulus  Similar to Time Put o Difference:  Time Out: depriving him of the specific consequence (attention) that was reinforcing his misbehaviour in the first place  Negative Punishment: depriving him of other stimuli that he
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