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PSYA01H3 (1,196)
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Chapter 7

Chapter 7- Learning and Behaviour.doc

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Steve Joordens

Chapter 7- Learning and Behaviour Learning- a flexible process in which the tendency to perform a behaviour is changed by experience • As conditions change, we learn new behaviours and eliminate old ones • Cannot be observed directly, it can only be inferred from changes in behaviour Performance- the behavioural change (or new behaviour) produced by the internal changes brought about by learning • Evidence that learning has occurred Habituation Orienting response- any response by which an organism directs appropriate sensory organs (eyes, ears, nose) toward the source of a new stimulus Habituation- the simplest form of learning • Learning not to respond to an unimportant event that happens repeatedly • George Humphrey suggested that even animals with very primitive nervous systems are capable of habituation • Makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, if a once-new stimulus occurs again and again without any important result, the stimulus has no significance to the organism • The simplest form of habituation is temporary (short-term habituation) • Animals that have more complex nervous systems, are capable of long-term habituation • When stimulus are gathered into quick repetitions, habituation is rapid but short term • When stimulus are presented in small groups that are spaced in time, habituation is slower but long term Classical Conditioning • Involves learning about the conditions that predict that a significant event will occur • Sudden sights and sounds can cause an automatic, unlearned reaction Pavlov’s Serendipitous Discovery • Ivan Pavlov discovered a form of learning where the stimulus predicts the occurrence of another stimulus Classical/Pavlovian conditioning- the process by which a response normally drawn by one stimulus (the unconditional stimulus [UCS]) comes to be controlled by another stimulus (the conditional stimulus [CS]) as well 1 • Sequence and timing of events are important factors • Provides us with a way to learn cause-and-effect relations between environmental events Unconditional stimulus (UCS) - in classical conditioning, a stimulus that naturally brings out a reflexive response Unconditional response (UCR) – in classical conditioning, a response that is naturally brought out by the UCS Conditional stimulus (CS) – in classical conditioning, a stimulus that, because of its repeated association with the UCS, eventually brings out a conditional response (CR) Conditional response (CR) – in classical conditioning, the response bring out by the CS NOTE: UCS (food)  UCR (salivation)  CS (sound and food)  CR (salivation) The Biological Significance of Classical Conditioning • A response that is naturally under the control of appropriate environmental stimuli can also come to be controlled by other kinds of stimuli • Classical conditioning accomplishes 2 functions: o The ability to recognize stimuli that predict the occurrence of an important event allows the learner to make the appropriate response faster and more effectively o Stimuli that were previously unimportant acquire some of the properties of the important stimuli with which they have been associated and becomes able to modify behaviour  A neural stimulus becomes desirable when it is associated with a desirable stimulus or becomes undesirable when it is associated with an undesirable one  Specific sensory properties of the UCS become associated with the CS and the stimulus takes on symbolic value Basic Principles of Classical Conditioning • Pavlov’s research led to the discovery of several interesting phenomena that still bear the names he gave them 70 years ago Acquisition • Repeated CS-UCS pairings does conditional responding gradually appear 2 Acquisition- in classical conditioning, the time during which a CR first appears and increases in frequency • 2 factors that influence the strength of the CR o Intensity of the UCS- determine how quickly the CR will be obtained and how much rapid learning and stronger the CR is o Timing of the CS and UCS- determine by how the CS occurs before the UCS and both stimuli end at the same time Extinction and Spontaneous Recovery Extinction- in classical conditioning, the elimination of a response that occurs when the CS is repeatedly presented without being followed by the UCS • Eventually eliminates the CR • Occurs only when the CS no longer signals the UCS Spontaneous recovery- after an interval of time, the reappearance of a response that had previously been extinguished Stimulus Generalization and Discrimination • The more closely the other stimuli resemble the CS, the more likely they will reveal the CR Generalization- in classical conditioning, CRs obtained by stimuli that resemble the CS used in training Discrimination (“to distinguish”) - in classical conditioning, the appearance of a CR when one stimulus is presented (the CS+) but not another (the CS-) • One CS is always followed by the UCS; the other CS is never followed by the UCS Conditional Emotional Responses • Since these stimuli were paired with other stimuli that obtained strong emotional reactions, they acquired emotional or evaluative significance • Classical conditioning may play a role in the development of personal likes and dislikes or in the emotional reaction to other stimuli, including those that produce pain Phobia- unreasonable fear of specific objects or stimulus, such as insects, animals, or enclosed spaces, learned through classical conditioning • Classical conditioning can occur even without the direct experience with the conditional and unconditional stimuli • Can develop phobias by hearing about or reading stories that vividly describe unpleasant episodes o Read a story (UCS)  provide imaginary stimuli (CSs)  real conditional emotional responses (CRs) 3 What Is Learned in Classical Conditioning? • For classical conditioning to occur, the CS must be a reliable predictor of the UCS • A neural stimulus becomes a CS only when: o The CS regularly occurs prior to the presentation of the UCS o The CS does not regularly occur when the UCS is absent Blocking- the prevention of or attenuation in learning that occurs to neutral CS when it is conditioned in the presence of a previously conditioned stimulus • Classical conditioning provides 2 types of info: o What future events- learn that a particular event is about to occur o When future events- the timing of events Inhibitory conditional response- a response tendency conditioned to a signal that predicts the absence of the UCS • Generally not observed directly but assessed through other tests Excitatory conditional response- a response tendency conditioned to a signal that the UCS is about to occur • This is the type of CR exemplified by Pavlov’s salivation response Operant Conditioning Operant conditioning- a form of learning in which behaviour is affected by its consequences • Favourable consequences strengthen the behaviour and unfavourable consequences weaken the behaviour • An organism learns through responding- through operating on the environment • Good consequences  action is repeated, bad consequences  action is not repeated The Law of Effect • Operant conditioning was discovered by Edward L. Thorndike in a basement of the house of William James in Cambridge, Massachusetts Law of effect- Thorndike’s idea that the consequences of a behaviour determine whether it is likely to be repeated • Determines which responses will survive and become part of the organism’s behavioural selection 4 Skinner and Operant Behaviour • Burrhus Frederic devised objective methods for studying behaviour, invented tools and methods for observing it, and created his own philosophy for interpreting it Operant chamber- a tool in which an animal’s behaviour can be easily observed, manipulated, and automatically recorded • Provides an unconstrained opportunity for a simple response to be performed by the animal Response rate- the number of responses emitted during a given amount of time Cumulative recorder- a mechanical device connected to an operant chamber for the purpose of recording operant responses as they occur in time • Increase response rate  strengthen responding • Decreases response rate  weaken responding • Skinner’s development of the operant chamber and the cumulative recorder represent clear advances over Thorndike’s research methods because participants can: 1. Emit responses more freely over a greater time period 2. Be studied for longer periods of time without interference produced by the researcher handling or interacting with them between trails The Three-Term Contingency Discriminative stimulus- in operant conditioning, the stimulus that sets the occasion for responding because, in the past, a behaviour has produced certain consequences in the presence of that stimulus Three-term contingency- the relation among discriminative stimuli, behaviour, and the consequences of that behaviour • A motivated organism emits a specific response in the presence of a discriminative stimulus because, in the past, that response has been reinforced only when the discriminative stimulus is present o The preceding event (the discriminative stimulus)  response (operant behaviour) following event (consequence of the operant behaviour) o In the presence of a discriminative stimulus, certain consequences follow the operant behaviour o These consequences are contingent upon behaviour (produced by that behaviour) and will occur if and only if an operant behaviour occurs Reinforcement, Punishment, and Extinction
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