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Chapter 7

CHAPTER 7.docx

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Department
Psychology
Course
PSYA01H3
Professor
Steve Joordens
Semester
Fall

Description
CHAPTER 7: LEARNING Learning – the acquisition of new knowledge, skills, or responses from experience that result in a relatively permanent change in the state of the learner  Learning is based on experience  Learning produces changes in the organism  These changes are relatively permanent 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  Pavlov’s experiment with dogs showed that dogs learned to salivate to a neutral stimulus such as a bell or a tone after that stimulus had been associated with another stimulus that naturally evokes salivation, such as food. The Development of Classical Conditioning: Pavlov’s Experiments The dogs were behaving in line with four basic elements of classical conditioning:  Unconditioned Stimulus (US) – something that reliably produces a naturally occurring reaction in an organism (placing food in front of animals  salivation)  Unconditioned Response (UR) – reflexive reaction that is reliably produced by an unconditioned stimulus (animal’s salivation)  Conditioned Stimulus (CS) – a stimulus that is initially neutral and produces no reliable response in an organism (pairing the presentation of food with the sound of a buzzer producing salivation in the dog)  Conditioned Response (CR) – a reaction that resembles an unconditioned response but is producedbya conditioned stimulus o CS (sound of a buzzer) paired with the US (food), animal will learn to associate food with the sound, and eventually the CS is enough to produce the UR (salivation), but Pavlov called it the CR. 1. Before Conditioning 2. Before Conditioning Food  Salivation Tuning Fork  No Salivation (US)  (UR) (Neutral Stimulus)  No unconditioned Response 3. During Conditioning 4. After Conditioning Tuning Fork + Food  Salivation Tuning Fork  Salivation (CS) + (US)  (UR) (CS)  (CR) Why do some dogs seem to know when it’s dinnertime? The presentation of food (US) has become associated with a complex CS – your getting up, moving into the kitchen, opening the cabinet, working the can opener – such that the CS alone signals your dog that food is on the way and therefore initiates the CR of her getting ready to eat. The Basic Principles of Classical Conditioning Acquisition – the phase of classical conditioning when the CS and the US are presented together Second Order Conditioning – conditioning where the stimulus that functions as the US is actually the CS from an earlier procedure in which it acquired to produce learning (for example, pairing a black square with the reliable buzzer, after a number of trials the dogs produced a salivary response to the black square even though it had never been directly associated with the food)  Used to explain why some people desire money to the point that they hoard it and value it even more than the objects they purchase. Although money is not directly associated with the thrill of a new car, through second order conditioning, money can become linked with this type of desirable quality Extinction – the gradual elimination of a learned response that occurs when the US is no longer presented  How does conditioned behaviour change when the unconditioned stimulus is removed? o Repeatedly presenting the CS without the US results in an abrupt decline in behaviour and continues to drop until eventually the dog ceases to salivate to the sound of the tone Spontaneous Recovery – the tendency of a learned behaviour to recover from extinction after a rest period *Generalization – a process in which the CR is observed even though the CS is slightly different fro the original one used during acquisition  The 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 *Discrimination – the capacity to distinguish between similar but distinct stimuli Generalization and discrimination are two sides of the same coin, the more organisms show one, the less they show another, and training can modify the balance between the two. CHAPTER 7: LEARNING Conditioned Emotional Responses: The Case of Little Albert Why did Albert fear the rat? Albert was presented with a white rat. As soon as he reached out to touch it, the steel bar was struck. This pairing occurred again and again over several trials. Eventually, the sight of the rat alone caused Albert to recoil in terror, crying and clamoring to get away from it. In this situation the US (the loud sound) was paired with a CS (the presence of the rat) such that the CS all by itself was sufficient to produce the CR (a fearful reaction). Albert showed stimulus generalization. The sight of a white rabbit, a seal-fur coat, and a Santa Claus mask produce the same kinds of fear reactions in the infant. Purpose? Watson wanted to demonstrate that emotional responses such as fear and anxiety could be produced by classical conditioning and therefore not be the product of deeper unconscious processes or early life experiences as Freud and his followers had argued. Fears could be learned, just like any other behaviour. A Deeper Understanding of Classical Conditioning The Cognitive Elements of Classical Conditioning How does the role of expectation in conditioning challenge behaviorist ideas?  Rescorla and Wagner were the first to theorize that classical conditioning only occurs when an animal has learned to set up an expectation. The sound of a tone, because of its systematic pairing with food, served to set up this cognitive state for the laboratory dogs; Pavlov, because of the lack of any reliable link with the food, did not. The Role of Consciousness What role does conscious awareness play in classical conditioning? Is awareness of the relationship between the CS and US necessary in order for conditioning to occur? Or can conditioning occur even without awareness of the CS-US relation?  Delay conditioning – simultaneous occurrence of the CS (tone) and US (puff of air) to produce blinking. After a few pairings of the tone and air puff, conditioning occurs and the tone alone elicits an eye blink  Trace conditioning – identical procedure, except there is a brief interval of time after the tone ends and the air puff is delivered. 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  Would patients in a vegetative state exhibit trace conditioning?  They used a standard trace conditioning procedure where the CS (a tone) was followed by a half- second later by the US (air puff), and assessed conditioned responses by measuring changes in the activity of eye muscles.  Both vegetative state and minimally conscious patients showed robust trace conditioning  Subjects under anesthesia showed no trace conditioning Implications for Understanding Schizophrenia conditioning procedures are being used to study the relationship between hallucinations and reality  Studies with rats have shown that pairing a rewarding stimulus (sugar solution) with nausea will cause the animals to reduce their subsequent intake of sugar  If the rats are exposed to the sugar paired with a tone, and are later made to feel nauseous in the presence of only the tone, then they subsequently behave as if the sugar had been present when they felt nauseous – they reduce their subsequent intake of sugar o Suggests that this occurs because the rats experience something like a sensory hallucination of the sugar when the tone is played The Neural Elements of Classical Conditioning What is the role of the amygdala in fear conditioning? When fear conditioning takes place two components – one behavioural, and one physiological – occur, elicited by the CS.  The central nucleus of the amygdala plays a role in producing both f these outcomes through two distinct connections with other parts of the brain. o If connections linking the amygdala to the midbrain are disrupted, behavioural response is not exhibited o If connections linking the amygdala to the hypothalamus are severed, the autonomic responses (physiological) associated with fear cease CHAPTER 7: LEARNING The Evolutionary Elements of Classical Conditioning Eating hummus  nausea  life-long aversion to hummus  The hummus was the CS, a bacterium was the US, and the resulting nausea was the UR. The UR (nausea) became linked to the once-neutral CS (the hummus) and became a CR (an aversion to hummus) o But everyone ate the hummus and no one else reported illness, therefore it is not clear what the US was o The time between the hummus and the distress was several hours; usually a response follows a stimulus fairly quickly Biological preparedness – a propensity for learning particular kinds of associations over others  For example, the taste and smell stimuli that produce food aversions in rats do not work with most species of birds. Birds depend primarily on visual cues for funding
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