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Lecture 6-8 Notes (Midterm II).docx

Course Code
PSYC 2330
Francesco Leri
Study Guide

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Midterm II Notes
Week 6
Thorndike’s Puzzle Boxes
Placed a hungry animal (cat, dog, or chicken) in the puzzle box with some food
left outside in plain view of the animal.
The task for the animal was to learn how to get out of the box and obtain the
Different puzzle boxes required different responses to get out and some were
easier than others.
For example, in Box A the required response was to pull a ring to release a
latch that blocked the door on the outside. In Box I, pressing down on a level
released a latch on the other side.
Initially, subjects were slow to make the correct response, but with continued
practice on the task, their latencies became shorter and shorter.
Thorndike interpreted these results as reflecting the learning of an S-R
association. The consequence of the successful response strengthened the
association between the box stimuli and that response.
On the basis of his research, Thorndike formulated the Law of Effect and
concluded that responses that produce satisfaction will be more likely to recur
and thus be strengthened.
The Law of Effect (Edward Thorndike)
If a response in the presence of a stimulus is followed by a satisfying event, the
association between the stimulus (S) and the response (R) is strengthened. If a
response is followed by an annoying event, the S-R association is weakened. That is, if
a specific behavior is followed by a positive outcome, the behavior is more likely to
reoccur. In other words, responses that produce a satisfying effect in a particular
situation become more likely to occur again in that situation, and responses that
produce a discomforting effect become less likely to occur again in that situation.
Continuity Theory (Edwin Guthrie)
The theory states that a set of stimuli that lead to a given response, will always lead to
the same response when encountered again. According to Guthrie’s approach,
responses are learned through their contiguity (closeness in time), and not
strengthened by reward rewards act only as a motivation for the organism to change
its response.
Cognitive Theory (Edward Tolman)
Tolman believed that animals understand the consequence of their behavior and that
they not only anticipate the consequences, but have expectations. During operant
conditioning, animals make S-S* associations. Rs are highly flexible, and the primary
role of a S* is to motivate behavior. Example memory test in monkeys.

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Reinforcement Theory (B.F. Skinner)
Also known as behaviorism or operant conditioning (in contrast to Ivan
Pavlov’s principles of classical conditioning).
Reinforcement theory states that an individual’s behavior is a function of its
Reinforcement theories focus on observable behavior rather than personal
states, like needs theories do.
Reinforcement theory focuses on the environmental factors that contribute to
shaping behavior.
Simply put, reinforcement theory claims that stimuli are used to shape
Used in many areas of study including animal training, raising children, and
motivating employees in the workplace.
There are four primary approaches to reinforcement theory: positive
reinforcement, negative reinforcement, extinction, and punish.
Positive refers to addition, and negative refers to subtraction.
Positive Reinforcement: occurs when a behavior (response) is followed by a
stimulus that is appetitive or rewarding, increasing the frequency of that behavior. In
the Skinner box experiment, a stimulus such as food or a sugar solution can be
delivered when the rat engages in a target behavior, such as pressing a lever.
Negative Reinforcement: occurs when a behavior (response) is followed by the
removal of an aversive stimulus, thereby increasing that behavior's frequency. In the
Skinner box experiment, negative reinforcement can be a loud noise continuously
sounding inside the rat's cage until it engages in the target behavior, such as pressing
a lever, upon which the loud noise is removed.
Positive Punishment: occurs when a behavior (response) is followed by a stimulus,
such as introducing a shock or loud noise, resulting in a decrease in that behavior.
Negative Punishment: occurs when a behavior (response) is followed by the removal
of a stimulus, such as taking away a child's toy following an undesired behavior,
resulting in a decrease in that behavior.
Enhancement of Memory Consolidation -- Consolidation is a neurological process that
involves gradually converting information from short-term memory into long-term
memory. Reinforcing events enhance the acquisition and the storage of information in
the brain.
Attribution of Conditioned Motivation -- Learning is the formation of representations
of the relationships among objects and events. A representation of a reinforcer will
motivate behavior.

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For example:
Unlearned motivational power (i.e. strawberry) is an unconditioned
motivator, or stimulus. Conditioning, in this sense, means whether something
is learned or unlearned.
When you enter the store, you know you are there for strawberries (drive)
that space is a motivator; it is a conditioned motivator or conditioned stimulus.
The strawberry attributed its value to the space gives motivational value to a
neutral stimulus.
Passive Avoidance Task
Passive avoidance test is used to assess memory function based on the association
formed between an aversive stimulus such as a mild foot shock and a specific
environmental context. Experiments are conducted in a two-compartment apparatus,
where one compartment is dimly lit and preferable to a rodent, and the other
compartment is brightly lit. During training the animal is placed into an aversive
brightly-lit compartment, and upon the entry into the preferred dimly lit
compartment is exposed to a mild foot shock. After a variable delay (minutes to days,
depending on study design), the animal undergoes a retention test. In the retention
test, the animal is returned to the brightly lit compartment again, and the latency to
enter the shock-paired compartment is measured (retention or recall latency). The
animal that learned the task would avoid the location previously paired with the
aversive stimulus, and show greater latency to enter it. The basolateral amygdala, and
other brain regions which have anatomical and functional connections with the
amygdala, play a pivotal role in passive avoidance learning.
Huston’s Experiment:
Group 1: Fed in their home cage immediately after the training session
Group 2: Fed in their home cage hours after the training session
Results: Group 1 remained on the platform longer than Group 2
This experiment shows that a food reinforcer influenced the animal’s behavior by
strengthening the representation of the contingent relationship between stepping
down and shock and that the animals learned nothing about the rewarding motivating
properties of food. To observe the enhancing function of reinforcers, we need to study
situations where the reinforcer is non-contingent upon the response.
Post-training electrical stimulation of the reticular formation enhances retention of
both appetitive and aversive tasks.
Stimulation of the MFB has strong reinforcing Properties:
Group 1: 30 min stimulation of the MFB after a choice
Group 2: no stimulation
Results: G1 learned faster than G2
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