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Principles of Learning (Psych 2330) Chapter Summaries

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PSYC 2330
Francesco Leri

Principles of Learning Chapter Summaries Chapter 1 IntroductionLearning is one of the biological processes that facilitate adaptation to ones environmentLearning to withhold responses is just as important as learning to make responsesHistorical AntecedentsRene Descartes recognized that many things people do are automatic reactions to external stimuli but he did not entirely abandon the idea of free will and conscious control therefore he formulated a dualistic view of human nature known as Cartesian dualism According to Cartesian dualism there are two classes of human behaviour o Involuntary behaviour consists of automatic reactions to external stimuli and is mediated by a special mechanism called a reflex o Voluntary behaviour occurs because of peoples conscious intent to act in that particular mannerDescartes assumed that the involuntary mechanism of human behavior was the only one available to animals other than humansall animal behaviour occurs as reflex responses to external stimuli o Animals lacked free will and voluntary behaviour conscious action o These aspects were uniquely human attributes he believed o Only humans beings were thought to have a mind a soulThe mind was assumed to be a nonphysical entity o Voluntary behaviour was initiated in the mind and occurs independently of external stimulationHistorical developments in the Study of the MindNativism o Descartes believed that some of the contents of the mind came from sense experiences o However he also believed that the mind contained ideas that were innate and existed in all human beings independent of personal experienceEx he believed that all humans were born with the concept of God the concept of self etc o The philosophical approach that assumes we are born with innate ideas about certain things is called nativismEmpiricism o The British philosopher John Locke believed that all the ideas people had were acquired directly or indirectly through experiences after birth o He believed that human beings were born without any preconceptions about the world o The mind started out as a clean slate tabula rasa to be graduallyfilled with ideas and information as the person had various sense experiencesHedonism o British philosopher Thomas Hobbes believed that the mind operated just as predictably and lawfully as a reflex o He proposed that voluntary behaviour was governed by the principle of hedonism o According to this principle people do things in the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of painAssociation o An important aspect of how the mind works o British empiricists proposed that simple sensations were combined into more complex ideas by associations o Connections or associations became established between the word and other attributes of the word Rules of Association The British empiricists accepted 2 sets of rules for the establishment of associations o PrimaryOriginally set forth by AristotleProposed 3 principles for the establishment of associationsContiguity states that if two events repeatedly occur together in space or time they will become associated o Ex encountering spaghetti with the smell of tomato sauce will activate the memory of both with just the smell of tomato sauceSimilarity states that two things will become associated if they are similar in some respecto Ex both things are redContrast states that two things will become associated if they have some contrasting characteristics o Ex one is really tall while another is really short o SecondarySet forth by Thomas BrownHe proposed that a number of factors influence the formation of associations between two sensationsThese include intensity of the sensations and how frequently or recently the sensations occurred togetherIt also depends on the number of other associations in which each event was already involved and the similarity of these past associations to the current one being formed The Dawn of the Modern EraDarwin attempted to characterize the evolution of physical traits and psychological or mental abilitiesHe argued that the human mind is a product of evolution and that animals shared the same abilities as humans Functional NeurologyNervism means that all the key physiological functions are governed by the nervous systemAnimal Models of Human BehaviourThe belief that research with animals can provide information that may help us better understand human behaviourModel systems have been developed based on research with a variety of species including several species of primates pigeons rats and miceIn generalizing from research with rats and pigeons to human behaviour one does not make the assumption that rats and pigeons are just like people Animal models are used as we use other types of modelsThey permit investigation of certain aspects of what they represent under the conditions that are simpler more easily controlled and less expensiveHowever they must be comparable to its target referent in terms of the feature or function under study called relevant feature or relevant functionAnimal models permit investigating problems that are difficult if not impossible to study with humansThe important thing is similarity between the animal model and the human behaviour in relevant features for the problem at hand Animal Models and Drug DevelopmentDrug development is not possible without animal modelsAnimal models of learning and memory are playing a central role in the development of new drugs for the development of antianxiety medications and drugs that facilitate the progress of behaviour and cognitive therapyThey are also helpful for the evaluation of the potential for drug abuse Animal Models and Machine LearningAnimal models of learning and behaviour are also of considerable relevance to robotics and intelligent artificial systems machine learningRobots are machines that are able to perform particular functions or tasksThe goal in robotics is to make the machines as smart as possible The Definition of LearningLearning is an enduring change in the mechanisms of behaviour involving specific stimuli andor responses that results from prior experience with those or similar stimuli and responsesThe LearningPerformance DistinctionWhenever we see evidence of learning we see the emergence of a change in behaviour the performance of a new response or the suppression of a response that occurred previouslyLearning is attributed to change in the mechanisms of behaviour because behaviour is determined by many factors in addition to learning
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