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Chapter 7

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Steve Joordens

CHAPTER 7: LEARNING - learning - Experience that results in a relatively permanent change in the state of the learner. Classical Conditioning: One Thing Leads to Another - classical conditioning - When a neutral stimulus produces a response after being paired with a stimulus that naturally produces a response. The Development of Classical Conditioning: Pavlov’s Experiments - Pavlov’s experimental setup involved dogs in a harness to administer the foods and to measure the salivary response - unconditioned stimulus (US) - Something that reliably produces a naturally occurring reaction in an organism. - unconditioned response (UR) - A reflexive reaction that is reliably produced by an unconditioned stimulus. - make the dogs salivate to stimuli that don’t usually make animals salivate - conditioned stimulus (CS) - A stimulus that is initially neutral and produces no reliable response in an organism. - conditioned response (CR) - A reaction that resembles an unconditioned response but is produced by a conditioned stimulus. The Basic Principles of Classical Conditioning - behaviourist psychology John B. Watson was proposing: an organism experiences events or stimuli that are observable and measureable, and changes in that organism can be directly observed and measured - there was no need to consider the mind in this classical-conditioning paradigm, which appealed to Watson and the behaviourists Acquisition - acquisition - The phase of classical conditioning when the CS and the US are presented together. - during the initial phase of classical conditioning, typically there is a gradual increase in learning: it starts low, rises rapidly, and then slowly tapers off - after learning has been established, the CS by itself will reliably elicit the CR Second-Order Conditioning - second-order conditioning - Conditioning where the US is a stimulus that acquired its ability to produce learning from an earlier procedure in which it was used as a CS. - helps explain why some people desire money to the point that they hoard it and value it even more than the objects it purchases Extinction - extinction - The gradual elimination of a learned response that occurs when the US is no longer presented. - the conditioned response is “extinguished” and no longer observed Spontaneous Recovery - spontaneous recovery - The tendency of a learned behavior to recover from extinction after a rest period. - recovery takes place even though there have not been any additional associations between the CS and US - The ability of the CS to elicit the CR was weakened, but it was not eliminated Generalization and Discrimination - generalization - The process in which the CR is observed even though the CS is slightly different from the original one used during acquisition. - conditioning generalizes to stimuli that are similar to the CS used during the original training - the more the new stimulus changes, the less conditioned responding is observed - when an organism generalizes to a new stimulus, two things are happening - first, by responding to the new stimulus used during generalization testing, the organism demonstrates that it recognizes the similarity between the original CS and the new stimulus - second, by displaying diminished responding to the new stimulus, it also tells us that it notices a difference between the two stimuli - discrimination - The capacity to distinguish between similar but distinct stimuli. Conditioned Emotional Responses: The Case of Little Albert - classical conditioning demonstrates that durable, substantial changes in behavior can be achieved simply by setting up the proper conditions - associating a naturally occurring US with an appropriate CS, an organism can learn to perform a variety of behaviours, often after relatively few acquisition trials - don’t need to consider internal and cognitive explanations to demonstrate the effects of classical conditioning: the stimuli, the eliciting circumstances, and the resulting behavior are there to be observed by one and all - Watson and Rayner developed that any behavior though that it was possible to develop general explanations of pretty much any behavior of any organism based on classical-conditioning principles - 9 month old Little Albert - see if a child could be classically conditioned to experience a strong emotional reaction (fear) - Watson proposed that fears could be learned, just like any other behavior - his experiment went against ethnics - Jennifer, who experienced fear and anxiety when hearing the previously innocent sound of an approaching helicopter as a result of her experiences in Iraq A Deeper Understanding of Classical Conditioning The Cognitive Elements of Classical Conditioning - why didn’t the dogs salivate when they saw Pavlov? - the dogs were sensitive to the fact that Pavlov was not a reliable indicator of the arrival of food - he was linked to many things - these observations suggest that perhaps cognitive components are involved in classical conditioning after all - Robert Rescorla and Allan Wagner were the first to theorize that classical conditioning only occurs when an animal has learned to set up an expectation - the Rescorla-Wagner model introduced a cognitive component that accounted for a variety of a classical-conditioning phenomena that were difficult to understand from a simple behaviourist point of view - the model predicted that conditioning would be easier when the CS was an unfamiliar event than when it was familiar - being familiar already have expectations associated with them, making new conditioning difficult - classical conditioning might appear to be a primitive and unthinking process, but it is actually quite sophisticated and incorporates a significant cognitive element - the role of consciousness - Rescorla-Wagner model reflect the operation of non-conscious associative mechanisms that do more than just record co-occurrences of events – they link those co-occurrences to prior experiences, generating an expectation - involve nonhuman animals - delay conditioning: the CS is a tone that is followed immediately by the US, a puff of air, which elicits an eye blink response - importantly, the tone and air puff overlap in time – the air puff follows the tone, but the tone remains on when the air puff is delivered - then, the tone and air puff end at the same time. After a few pairings of the tone and air puff, conditioning occurs and the tone alone elicits an eye blink response - trace conditioning: uses the identical procedures, with one difference: in trace conditioning, there is a brief interval of time after the tone ends and the air puff is delivered - amnesic patients showed normal delay conditioning of eyeblink responses compared with non- amnesic control subjects - delay conditioning does not require awareness of the contingency between the tone and the air puff, whereas trace conditioning does - implications for patients in a vegetative state - examined trace conditioning in 22 patients with a diagnosis of either vegetative state or a related condition called a minimally conscious state (these patients occasionally exhibit overt behavior by responding appropriately to a command) - used a standard trace conditioning procedure in which the CS (a tone) was followed a half-second later by the US (an air puff), and assessed conditioned responses by measuring changes in the activity of eye muscles - showed robust trace conditioning - implications for understanding schizophrenia - pairing a rewarding stimulus such as a sugar solution with nausea will cause the animals to reduce their subsequent intake of sugar - McDannald and Schoenbaum proposed using conditioning procedures to test hypotheses concerning impaired reality testing in schizophrenia The Neural Elements of Classical Conditioning - cerebellum is critical for both delay and trace conditioning - it is part of the hindbrain and plays an important role in motor skills and learning - hippocampus is important for trace conditioning but not delay conditioning - amygdala plays an important role in the experience of emotion, including fear and anxiety - central nucleus is also critical for emotional conditioning - central nucleus of the amygdala plays a role in producing both of these outcomes through two distinct connections with other parts of the brain - the action of the amygdala is an essential element in fear conditioning, an its link with other areas of the brain are responsible for producing specific features of conditioning - the amygdala is involved in fear conditioning in people as well as rats and other animals The Evolutionary Elements of Classical Conditioning - could have adaptive value - focused on conditioned food aversions - any species that forages or consumes a variety of foods needs to develop a mechanism by which it can learn to avoid any food that once made it ill - to have adaptive value, this mechanism should have several properties: - there should be rapid learning that occurs one or two trials; if learning takes more trials than this, the animal could die from eating a toxic substance - conditioning should be able to take place over long intervals, up to several hours; toxic subtances often don’t cause illness immediately, so the organism would need to form an association between food and the illness over a longer term - the organism should develop the aversion to the smell or taste of the food rather than its ingestion; - learned aversions should occur more often with novel foods than familiar ones; - John Garcia and his colleagtues illustrated the adaptiveness of classical conditioning in a series of studies with rats - they used a variety of CSs (visual auditory, tactile, taste, and smell) and several different USs (injection of a toxic substance, radiation) that cause nausea and vomiting hours later - found weak or no conditioning when the CS was a visual, auditory, or tactile stimulus - strong food aversion developed with stimuli that have a distinct taste and smell - development of technique for dealing with an unanticipated side effect of radiation and chemotherapy - biological preparedness - A propensity for learning particular kinds of associations over others. Operant Conditioning: Reinforcements from the Environment - the study of classical conditioning is the study of behaviours that are reactive - most animals exhibit these responses involuntarily during the conditioning process - operant conditioning - A type of learning in which the consequences of an organism’s behavior determine whether it will be repeated in the future. - the study of operant conditioning is the exploration of behaviours that are active The Development of Operant Conditioning: The Law of Effect - Thorndike’s research focused on instrumental behaviours, that is, behavior that required an organism to do something, solve a problem, or otherwise manipulate elements of its environment - law of effect - The principle that behaviors that are followed by a “satisfying state of affairs” tend to be repeated and those that produce an “unpleasant state of affairs” are less likely to be repeated. - in classical-conditioning experiments, the US occurred on every training trial no matter what the animal did - in Thorndike’s work, the behavior of the animal determined what happened next - if the behavior was “correct”, the animal was rewarded with food - incorrect behaviours produced no results and the animal was stuck in the box until it performed the correct behaviour B. F. Skinner: The Role of Reinforcement and Punishment - operant behavior - Behavior that an organism produces that has some impact on the environment. - in Skinner’s system, all of these emitted behaviours “operated” on the environment in some manner, and the environment responded by providing events that either strengthened those behaviours or made them less likely to occu
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