ch. 7

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Ingrid L.Stefanovic

Chapter 7 Learning and Behaviour - Our behaviour is changeable in response to certain experience - Behaviour is not controlled by neural circuits that are fixed and unchanging - Instructions can also change behaviour - Learning: An adaptive process in which the tendency to perform a particular behaviour is changed by experience - As conditions change, we learn new behaviours and eliminate old ones - Learning cannot be observed directly it can only be inferred from changes in behaviour - Not all changes in behaviour are caused by learning o Your performance can be affected by physical or mental condition such as fatigue, fearfulness etc o Learning how to do something is different than actually doing it Ex: learning how to change a car tire and changing a car tire - Learning may occur without noticeable changes in observable behaviour taking place - Experience alters the structure and chemistry of the brain - These alterations affect how the nerouv system responds to events - Performance: The behavioural change produced by the internal changes brought by learning o Performance is the evidence that learning has occurred o It is imperfect evidence, because other factors also affect behaviour - Psychologists who study learning look for special aspects of performance o Such as durability and specificity o To seeif learning has taken place - three types of learning: Habituation, classical conditioning and operant conditioning o All three involve cause-and-effect relations between environment and behaviour Habituation - We react automatically to many events. - Noise causes an Orientation Response: Any response by which an organism directs appropriate sensory organs toward the source of a stimulus o We become alert to it o However, if noise occurs repeatedly, we gradually ceaseto respond and eventually ignore it - Habituation: The simplest form of learning; learning not to respond to an unimportant even that occurs repeatedly - Animals with primitive nervous system are capable of habituation - George Humphrey made this point in a simple experiment using land snails: o What he did: Placed several small snails on a glass plate and tapped sharply on the plate Snails immediately and reflexively withdrew into their shells With each further tap, fewer snails withdrew into their shells, until after many taps, none would respond Probability of reacting to the tap decreased with each exposure Some might say that this experiment doesnt show habituation and instead fatigue - Habituation makes sense from evolutionary perspective o Responding to a stimulus that has no significance/importance wastes time and energy - The simplest form of habituation is temporary o Known as short term habituation o If we leave the snails alone for a few days they will respond again o The snail does not remember what happened previously - Animals that have more complex nervous systems are capable of: o Long term habituation o Ex: a hunting dog knows not to be frightened by a shotgun sound o Habituation carries across from day to day and even seasons - What distinguishes short term habituation from long term habituation? o The pattern of experience plays a role When stimuli are massed into quick repitions, habituation is rapid but short term. When these stimuli are presented in small groups that are spaced in time, habituation is slower but long term o There is evidence that short term and long term habituation are produced by different neural mechanisms Classical Conditioning - Habituation involves learning about single events - Unlike habituation, CLASSICAL CONDITIONING involves learning about the conditions that PREDICT that a significant event will occur - We acquire most of our behaviour through classical conditions o Example: if you are hungry and smell food cooking, your mouth will likely to water (YUP YUP:D) o You are reacting to the predictive relationship between smell experience of the food o If you seesomeone with who you have recently had an argument, you are likely to experience some emotional reaction that occurred during the argument - A simple example of a conditioned behaviour: o Movie theater example on page 198 Pavlovs Serendipitous Discovery - Ivan Pavlov considered one of the foremost scientists of his time - His ambition was to discover the neural mechanisms controlling glandular secretions during digestions - He measured the secretions during the course of a meal - He inserted a small tube in an animals mouth and collected drops of saliva - Pavlovs strategy was to study salivary processesin individual dogs over many test sessions - What he did: o During each seassions he placed dry food power inside the dogs mouth and then collected the saliva o All went well until dogs became experienced participants o Dogs began to salvitate before being fed, usually when lab assistant came in the room - What he discovered: o A form of learning in which one stimulus predicts the occurrence of another o In this case, the appearance of lab assistance predicted appearance of food - Pavlov then designed experiments to discover exactly WHY the dogs were salivating before being given the opportunity to eat - Suspected that salivation might be triggered by stimuli that were unrelated to eating - Pavlovs new ambition: was to understand the variables that controlled this unexpected behaviour! - What he did now: o Placed an inexperienced dog in a harness and occasionally gave it small amounts of food powder o Prior to placing food in dogs mouth, he sounded a buzzer. o At first: Dog showed only a startled response to sound, but dog salivated only when the food powder was placed in its mouth o HOWEVER, after only a dozen times, dog behan to salivate when the bell ring placing food powder in dogs mouth was no longer necessary and only the sound was efficient - What he discovered: o Neutral stimulus can elicit a response similar to the original reflex WHEN the stimulus predicts the occurrence of a significant stimulus - This type of learning is CLASSICAL CONDITIONING - Classical Conditioning: The process by which a response normally elicited by one stimulus (unconditional stimulus or UCS) comes to be controlled by another stimulus as well (conditional stimulus or CS). - Pavlov demonstrated conditioning occurred only when food powder followed the bell within a short time - If there was a long delay between sound & food, the animal never learned to salivate - Sequence and timing very important factors in classical conditioning - Classical conditioning provides us with a way to learn cause-and-effect relationship between environmental events o We are able to learn about the stimuli that warn us that an important even is about to occur o Warning stimuli must occur prior to the event - Unconditional Stimulus (UCS): In classical conditioning, a stimlus, such as food, that naturally elicits a reflexive response, such as salivation o The reflective behaviour is called the unconditional response o Unconditional response: A response that is naturally elicited by the UCS
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