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Learning and Behaviour.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Steve Joordens

Chapter 5 Learning and Behaviour Learning is an adaptive process in which the tendency to perform a particular behaviour is changed by experience. Learning is not observed but is inferred by changes in behaviour. Performance is the behavioural change produced by the internal change. Types of learning; habituation, classical conditioning and operant conditioning Habituation – if a noise occurs it makes us have a reaction to it (orienting response) however if the noise continuously occurs we stop paying attention to it. Habituation is learning NOT to respond to unimportant events. The reason why this occurs is an unnecessary reaction only causes an organism to waste energy and time. Experiments that back up habituation was conducted by Humphrey on snails and Wicks and Rankin on worms. Temporary habituation is called short-term habituation. Long-term habituation occurs in animals, which have complex nervous systems. Classical conditioning – learning about the conditions that a specific event will occur Ivan Pavlov (Russian physiologist) discovered classical conditioning in 1904. He attempted to study the salivary process of using dogs. The dogs would salivate every time they were fed; however, eventually the dogs salivated at the sight of the feeder. Pavlov figured that one stimulus could predict the occurrence of another. To further test his finding every time he would feed the dogs, he would ring a bell. At first this sound alerted or startled the dog and would only salivate when the dog was eating the food but eventually the sound of the bell triggered the salivary response. If there was too much of a pause between the sound of the bell and the food being given then the dog would never learn to salivate. Therefore timing is important in classical conditioning.  Unconditional stimulus – a stimulus that naturally causes a reflexive response  Unconditional response – a response that is naturally elicited by the UCS  Conditional stimulus – a stimulus that after repetition can trigger an CR  Conditional response – a response triggered by the CS The biological significance of classical conditioning Classical conditioning gives the ability of an individual to recognize stimuli that predicts the occurrence of an event that allows the individual to respond more quickly. It also allows unimportant stimuli to become important this causes the sense to be more aware of these stimuli.  Acquisition – is the period during which the conditional stimulus gradually increases in frequency and strength.  Extinction - is eliminating the a response that occurs when the condition stimulus is repeated without the unconditional stimulus being presented (bell ring over and over without food the dog stops responding to the bell)  Spontaneous recovery – after a period of time the reappearance of a response that had previously been extinguished.  Generalization – conditional response is elicited by stimuli that resembles the condition stimuli  Discrimination – the appearance of a conditional response when one stimuli is presented and not the other Conditional Emotional Responses Many stimuli are able to arouse emotional responses. Todrank, Byrnes, Wrzesniewski, and Rozin found that classical conditioning could play a role in the development in personal likes and dislike with their experiment pairing odors with pictures and ranking the attractiveness. Phobias – unreasonable fear of specific objects or events Phobia may arise earlier in life when this stimulus was presented with an unpleasant event. Classical conditioning does not have to be direct a child can learn to fear snakes through their parents’ fear. Operant Conditioning Environmental stimuli and its relation with our behaviour When an action has a good outcome it is more likely to occur again. Law of effect Edward L. Thorndike discovered operant conditioning. He performed an experiment on a cat it could get food only once it pressed a button that would open the latch of a box and he called
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