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Things to Remember.docx

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University of Guelph
PSYC 2330
Francesco Leri

Introduction / Chapter 1 Learning: biological processes that facilitate adaptation to one’s environment What causes behaviour? Something that makes you respond (always a stimulus, whether you know it or not), and something that has value (motivational value - individual differences and dependent on context, must motivate you to behave). We have motivational value because we have previous encounters with the stimuli and have memory for it - memories are a product of learning! This occurs because we have a nervous system that responds to stimuli by looking back into past experience with the stimuli, taking into account how valuable the stimuli is at that moment, and behaving accordingly. Rene Descartes introduced the concept that your brain is involved in making you behave. In a sense he was a dualist meaning he believed that the mind and the physical world influence behaviour. Involuntary behaviour occurs by taking stimuli in through the senses, transmitting this to the brain, which then decides how the muscles should respond. Involuntary actions were the only ones believed to be shared by animals as well. Voluntary actions were unique to humans and occurred by taking in stimuli through the environment, sending the information to the brain, which was then linked to the mind through the pineal gland. The mind then sent responses through the pineal gland to the brain and then to the muscles. This view of learning was important because it emphasized that stimuli must exist for behaviour and that the brain is also involved. Stimuli are detectable changes in the environment that can either be neutral (no motivational value), appetitive (making you approach stimulus) or aversive (making you back away from the stimulus). Responses are a quantifiable reaction to the stimulus and can be either learned (memory) or unlearned (innate, genetic predisposition). Within these two categories, responses can be somatic (observable responses) or autonomic (e.g. changes in heart rate, temperature etc.). Rene Descartes also believed that we were born with all of the knowledge we have (nativism) while John Locke believed that we are born as blank slates and that we acquire knowledge through our experiences (empiricism). Turns out both are right depending on the behaviour. Hobbes believed in the distinction between involuntary and voluntary responses (like Descartes) but believed that the mind operated in a lawful and predictable way (unlike Descartes). He suggested hedonism; where people behave in a way to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Association (proposed by the empiricists) is the fact that simple sensations are combined into more complex ideas and these associations are the building blocks of learning. There are primary rules to associations (contiguity - repeatedly occurring together will be associated together, similarity and contrast) and there are secondary rules (there are a number of factors that influence formation of associations - frequency, recency, intensity etc.). Ebbinghaus used nonsense syllables to show that strength of associations’ increases with training and that order effects associations. Bell showed that there are separate nerves for sensory and motor information. Swammerdam showed that it takes more than mechanical irritation of a nerve to make a muscle contract. Watson was the father of behaviouralism, which stated that things that cannot be observed should not become data for science. He said that if you know the laws and you know the stimuli, you should be able to predict the behaviour of the individual. Essentially, you are the victim of your experiences. Watson conducted the famous “Little Albert” experiment in which a mouse (CS) was paired with a loud sound (US) which then conditioned the baby to be afraid of the mouse and expanded to anything that had fur. Darwin proposed that there was nothing special about humans. Since we have evolved from animals it is hard to pin point where the “mind” developed and thus we can either say that animals must have minds too or that no one has minds. Romanes suggested that intelligence can be determined by the ability to learn (whether you make new adjustments or you modify your old behaviours). Sechenov proposed that stimuli do not always elicit a reflexive response directly. Nervism was introduced in the mid 1800s and stated that all physiological functions are governed by the nervous system and that there are biological mechanisms behind our behaviour. Pavlov used this approach when studying how reflexes could be shaped by experience. He found that new reflexes could be formed through association (classical conditioning). Classical conditioning is an S-S* association or an association between a stimulus or signal and a biologically significant stimulus such as food, water, drugs, sex or social interaction which produce a biological response whether you like it or not. Classical conditioning fails to tell us why people engage in particular behaviour. In conditioning trials we see responding increase (learning curve, pairing CS with US) and then in extinction trials we see responding progressively decrease (CS and no US). What is interesting is that responding can come back and it is the basis of relapse. Why does responding come back? Drug associated cues (e.g. being in the same context), the drug itself (e.g. the potato chip effect or “the one that doesn’t eat the chocolate has the problem”) and stress (chemical, physical etc.). Dollard and Millar believed that research on nonhumans could provide information that better helps us understand human behaviour (less expensive, simpler, more easily controlled). B.F. Skinner was a radical behaviouralist and suggested operant or instrumental conditioning (S-R learning). He said that a signal elicits a response that is then reinforced (positively or negatively) through the presence or absence of the biologically significant stimulus. This presence or absence will then affect future behaviour upon presence of original signal. Performance is the action of an organism at a particular time and is often used as an indicator or evidence of learning. There are other sources of behavioural change such as fatigue (physical exertion that results in gradual reduction in intensity), changes in stimulus conditions (lights go down, everyone goes silent in movie theatre), maturation (cannot reach cookie jar until tall enough), alterations in motivational or physiological state of the organism. Learning can be analyzed at the level of the whole organism (behavioural), neural circuits and neurotransmitters (neural system or network) and neurons / synapses (molecular, cellular, genetic). There are 3 alternatives to research with animals (refine research so there is less suffering, replace animals with other means or reduce the number of animals used in statistical techniques. Chapter 2 Elicited behaviour is like a reflex. Reflexes consist of 2 or 3 neurons making up the reflexive arc. Reflexes make up the majority of behaviours in newborns (withdrawal reflex, grasping reflex, occlusion reflex). Goal-directed behaviours are a set of behaviours that are directed towards something the organism is trying to achieve. They can either be instincts (genetically programed, resistant to change, require little to no learning, has stereotypical nature to them) or learned (require learning, flexible and adaptive). The psychological theory of instincts (William James) says that instincts are motivators of behaviour, they are the “fuel” to make someone behave and this fuel comes from our genetic background. James’ theory says that there are an infinite number of instincts which thus makes it difficult to verify and almost untestable but what we can take away from it is that there needs to be energy that makes you behave. The ethology theory of instincts (Lornez, Tinbergen) says that instincts are behaviour and they differ in their degree of sensitivity to change in the environment. The behaviours can either be appetitive or consummatory. Appetitive behaviours are learned, flexible and open to modification while consummatory are genetically determined, require little to no learning and are insensitive to changes in the environment. Consummatory responses are also known as fixed action patterns. An example of a consummatory behaviour would be chewing and swallowing. This is a behaviour that occurs in the same way almost every time. An example of appetitive behaviour knows there is food under a cup and pushing over the cup to get to the food. This theory states that all behaviours need a stimulus and energy. Key or sign stimuli are stimuli that produce a fixed action pattern or consummatory response. Social releasers are a type of sign stimuli in which behaviour from one individual evokes a response in another member of the species, for example, yawning. Homeostasis is the tendency to maintain balance or internal equilibrium. Our bodies have a variety of set points and if there is a disturbance to any of them, will fight in the opposite direction (opponent response) to get back to equilibrium. This is the basis of “buy happiness, get sadness for free.” The primary process (effect of the drug) creates a disturbance in the body which in turn, makes the body mount an opponent process that generates the opposite emotional reaction. There is an important balance. Imaging there is a tank that is filled with fluid that is held in by a valve. This valve is also attached to a scale in which if weight was added, the valve would slide open. The opening of the valve would allow the fluid in the tank to fill up 1 to 6 drippers depending on how much fluid is allowed through. There are then two ways to open the valve, one is if there is so much fluid in the tank, the mere pressure opens the valve and the other is if there is enough weight on the scale to push the valve open. For example say we take hunger. Over the course of the day you get hungrier and hungrier, thus adding more and more fluid to the tank. You will reach a point in which you are SO hungry that you eat which means the pressure has opened the valve. Now, say you are full, there is very little pressure on the valve due to fluid in the tank, but you are presented with your favourite food, then the weight on the scale increases and you are likely to eat it. The weight on the scale is thus the “perfect stimulus.” Drive is a motivational construct associated with the maintenance of homeostatic balance. When homeostatic balance is disrupted it creates a need. This need creates a drive, energy to want to reduce the need. This energy is converted into behaviour to reduce the need, which in turn, reduces the drive and restores homeostasis. We can study drive by changing the amount of deprivation in rats. We have the rats in a chamber, with the goal in another chamber, separated by a bridge that gives them foot shocks - thus creating a conflict situation. We are looking to see how many crossings the rats make for exploration, water, food and sex as a measure of the strength of drive. We see that after one crossing, the number of crossings for exploration goes down (seen it once, I know what is over there). It is hard to deprive a rat of sex but there is a maximum amount of crossings and then it stabilizes. For both food and water, as the amount of deprivation goes up, so does the number of crossings, however it is a peak function which probably reflects the decrease in energy after not having ate or drank. Hull’s drive theory uses the equation sEr = D x sHr to predict when an animal will do a behaviour, where sEr is the strength of the behaviour, D is the strength of the drive and sHr is the strength of the habit (something that has been learned and becomes stronger through how often it is followed by a satisfying event - reduction of drive is satisfying event). In our experiment we manipulated the number of reinforced repetitions (strength of habit) and measured the number of reactions to extinction. From here we had two groups, one that was not deprived for long and another that was. We see that both groups produced same curve but the increase in drive pushed the curve upwards. If you have a strong habit but no drive, you will not produce behaviour and likewise if you have a strong drive but no habit (have no idea what to do), you will not produce behaviour. Therefore drive is necessary to learn something and when you encounter that drive in the future you are likely to take part in the same behaviours to reduce the need. Hull said that drive is a general pool of energy and therefore there is only one type of drive however when drive is activated, stimulus-drive (sd) is activated in parallel which is drive dependent which then directs previous habits and performance of specific responses. Hull eventually realized that the characteristics of the goal object also influence the motivation of the organism and added the incentive value (k) to his equation. Incentive value is learned, relative to something else and relative to the motivational state. Rats will run faster when goal goes from 1 pellet to 16 pellets compared to 16 to 16 or 32 to 16. There is an optimal level of motivation and it is dependent on the task. The Yerkes Dodson law states that there is an inverse relationship between task difficulty and optimum level of motivation - the easier the task, the higher the level of optimal motivation. Drive reduction is also not necessary for learning like Hull suggests. Latent learning is learning that occurs but does not show itself until the circumstances have it. We see this through rats that are put in a maze with no goal at the end. Then we take these rats and new rats that have never seen the maze before and see who gets to the goal first. The rats that had been in the maze before get to the goal faster thus proving that they were learning before but the learning was not expressed because there was no goal. Habituation is the decrease is responding due to repeated exposures, e.g. clothes, smell etc. If you want people to keep eating, each bite should be a different taste so they don’t get habituated. The opposite is the case for if you want to lose weight - it is better if all bites taste the same. Habituation takes longer if we are not paying attention and according to the other race effect, we are better at discriminating a face if the individual has small differences from a different race than us. Habituation is both stimulus specific and response specific. Sensitization is when you have an incremental increase in responding due to repeated exposures (one experience does something to your nervous system such that when you experience a smaller version of that you have the same response as the original, major experience. Sensitization is not highly stimulus specific. Modification of calcium intake in neurons directly impacts the amount of neurotransmitter released. The magnitude of neurotransmitter release influences the magnitude of the response. Take slug and implant 2 electrodes, one on sensory neuron and the other on motor neuron. Then you do habituation training and see that the amount of sensory information (input) is the same but the amount of neurotransmitter release to the motor neuron has decreased. In the sensitization experiment we shock the tail of the slug. Since sensitization is not stimulus specific, all responses of slug are amplified. Now an interneuron alters the activity of the sensory neuron causing it to release more neurotransmitter (serotonin) to the motor neuron and activating it to a greater extent. One shock causes an effect that lasts a few minutes. Five shocks cause a growth of new synapses and a longer lasting effect and this is the basis of PTSD. Chapter 3 and 4 US is unconditioned stimulus (food, water, sex, drugs, social interaction, had very little experience with to determine it’s value) and UR is unconditioned response (salivation, increase in attention, response that just happens, can be a reflex or more complex than that). CS is conditioned stimulus that will then be used as a predictor of the US and the CR, conditioned response, is the response that accompanies the CS. We measure CR’s by presenting the CS alone in a test trial (without the bias of the US) and from this we can measure the latency (how soon), the magnitude (how much) and the probability of responding (how often). Conditioned excitation is when the CS is a predictor of the presence of the US (CS+) and conditioned inhibition is when the CS is a predictor of the absence of the US (CS-). There are two main ways to get conditioned inhibition. The first is differential inhibition procedure, in which CS1 is paired with US and CS2 is paired with no US and therefore is inhibitory. Secondly you can do a conditioned inhibition procedure in which CS1 is paired with the US and then CS1 & CS2 are paired with no US in which case, CS2 is a conditioned inhibitor (learn that CS1 is useless when CS2 is present). Conditioned inhibition can be tested by a summation test, when the conditioned inhibitor is paired with a new CS to see if it elicits a response. If a response occurs, the conditioned inhibitor was actually not a conditioned inhibitor but if a response does not occur, it was. This can also be tested using the retardation of acquisition test in which we try and make the conditioned inhibitor into a conditioned excitor. If it was a conditioned inhibitor, it should take more trials to turn it into a conditioned excitor than if it was not a conditioned inhibitor. There are three criticisms to the S-S* learning model. One is that we are not making a response to the CS, instead the animal is salivating, for example, because of mere exposure to the food so many times. This concept is called pseudo conditioning and we can test this by using a control group that is only given food and see if the control group starts to show the conditioned response to the CS - which they do not. The second criticism is that there is sensitization to the CS and thus we get salivation because we have increased the sensitivity to the CS. We test this by having a control group that is only presented the CS and then tested to see if they salivate to it and the answer is they do not. The last criticism is that instead of creating a CS-US association, that we are creating a CS-Response association (by passing the US completely). We test for this in 2 different ways. The first was is through US devaluation or post-conditioning devaluation. In these cases we look to see if the US association is important in making the response. Rescorla paired the CS and the US together and then in one group just exposed the US and this group did not show a response when presented with the CS. A similar experiment was conducted but the US was instead paired with sickness in which the group also did not respond when just the CS was presented. The second line of evidence is CS-CS associations. One of these associations is called second order conditioning in which a CS is paired with a US to the point that the CS elicits the response. Then the CS is paired with a second CS with no US. We then see that the second CS also elicits the same response as the first CS thus transferring it’s conditioning power to another stimuli. An ex
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