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Chapter 3

Chapter 3 - Classical Conditioning

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McMaster University
Joe Kim

Psychology Chapter 3 – Classical Conditioning ADefinition of Learning Learning – is a relatively enduring change in the mechanisms of behaviour that occurs due to experience. Latent Learning – obtaining relations that are not expressed right away or expressed only in appropriate situations, reflect this distinction and highlights the importance of the specific mechanisms of learning. Three Key Concepts of Learning: 1. Mechanisms of Behaviour  There are two compelling reasons to consider more than behaviour alone, both of which involve the distinction between learning and performance.  There are many reasons unrelated to learning why behaviour may change. Ex. Fatigue and motivational factors that can alter behaviour.  Learning may occur yet not be immediately reflected in performance. Given that behaviour may change for reasons other than learning, and that learning may not be instantly reflected as a change in behaviour, we need to define learning in terms of the mechanisms of behaviour, rather than the behaviour itself. When learning occurs, something changes in the process and systems that produce behaviour, thereby altering the mechanism of that behaviour. 2. Learning Involves Change that is Relatively Enduring  The definition specifies that the changes in the mechanisms of behaviour that occur as a result of learning must be enduring.  That is not to say these changes must be permanent, but rather that the learning should tend to be retained over time whether or not learning is being continually expressed in behaviour. 3. Learning is a Process based on Experience  Changes that reflect learning are also a result of maturation.  There are behaviours that develop and change as an individual matures, often independent of experience.  Maturation and learning work together to alter the mechanisms of behaviour.  Example: tadpole develops into a frog and shifts from swimming to hopping; that is not learned behaviour- it has lost its tail and developed legs.  Example: language acquisition – a certain level of maturation is necessary before a child has developed motor control of the physical organs of speech production to produce language, but before this time, the child is already acquired considerable knowledge of words and their meanings. Section 1: Orienting Responses, Habituation, and Sensitization Orientating Response – an automatic shift of attention toward that stimulus or event. Habituation -Adecrease in response to a stimulus or event as it is repeatedly presented without any consequence. Dis-habituation – is an increase in responding that follows a change in the stimulus to which habituation has occurred. Repeated presentation leads to sensitization, or an increase in responding. Where habituation serves to keep us from being distracted by unimportant stimuli, sensitization focuses attention to stimuli that do have relevance. Habituation and sensitization are considered simple forms of non-associative learning because they modify an existing stimulus-response relationship. The type of process affected by habituation or sensitization is typically a reflex, which takes place independently of the conscious experience of the subject. Section 2: Classical Conditioning Pavlov’s Dog Study Example Unconditional Response (UR) – is a biologically determined reflex that can be made in the absence of any prior learning. - Ex. Salivation The stimulus that made the UR is called the unconditional stim
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