CHAPTER 7: LEARNING AND BEHAVIOR
- Learning: an adaptive process in which the tendency to perform a particular behavior
is changed by experience.
- Performance: the behavioral change produced by the internal changes brought about
PART I: HABITUATION
- Orienting response: any response by which an organism directs appropriate sensory
organs (eyes, ears, nose) toward the source of a novel stimulus.
- Habituation: the simplest form of learning; learning not to respond to an unimportant
event that occurs repeatedly.
- George Humphrey (1933): experiment with snails, tapped plate.
- The simplest form of habituation is temporary, and is known as shote term habituation.
- Animals, particularly those that have more complex nervous systems, are capable of
long term habituation (hunting dog).
- What distinguished short term from long term- when stimuli are massed into quick rep-
etitions, habituation is rapid but short term, when these stimuli are presented in small
groups that are spaces in time, habituation is slower but long term.
- Evidence that short + long are produced by different neural mechanisms.
PART II: CLASSICAL CONDITIONING
Pavlov’s Serendipitous Discovery
- Experiment with dog- showed that a neural stimulus can elicit a response similar to the
original reflex when the stimulus predicts the occurrence of a significant stimulus.
- Classical conditioning: the process by which a response normally elicited by one stim-
ulus (the unconditional stimulus or UCS) comes to be controlled by another stimulus.
(the conditional stimulus or CS) as well.
- Sequence/timing of events are important.
- Classical conditioning provides us with a way to learn cause-and-effect relations be-
tween environmental events.
- Unconditional stimulus (UCS): in classical conditioning, a stimulus, such as food, that
naturally elicits a reflexive response, such as salivation.
- Unconditional response (UCR): in classical conditioning, a response, such as salva-
tion, that is naturally elicited by the UCS.
- Conditional stimulus (CS): in classical conditioning, a stimulus that because of its re-
peated association with the UCS, eventually elicits a conditional response (CR). - Conditional response (CR): in classical conditioning the response elicited by the CS.
The Biological Significant of Classical Conditioning
- Classical conditioning accomplishes 2 functions.
- 1.ability to learn to recognize stimuli that predicts the occurrence of an important
event allows the learner to male the appropriate response faster and more ef-
- 2. Through CC, stimuli that were previously unimportant acquire some of the
properties of the important stimuli with which they have been associated and
this become able to modify behaviors.
- A neutral stimulus becomes desirable when it is associated with a desirable stimulus
or becomes undesirable when it is associated with an undesirable one.
- Evidence that the specific sensory properties of the UCS become associated with the
CS (Watt + Honey 1997).
Basic Principles of Classical Conditioning
- > Acquisition
- Acquisition: in CC, the time during which a CR fist appears and increases in frequency.
- 2 factors that influence the strength of the CR are:
- 1. Intensity of the UCS.
- 2. Timing of the CS and UCS.
- The intensity of the UCS can determine how quickly the CR will be acquired: the more
intense the UCS, the stronger the CR generally is.
- CC occurs fastest when the CS occurs shortly before the UCS and both stimuli.
- With shorter or longer delays, conditioning is generally slower and weaker.
- > Extinction and Spontaneous Recovery
- Extinction: in CC, the elimination of a response that occurs when the CS is repeatedly
presented without being followed by the UCS.
- Once CRs are formed, they do not necessarily remain a part of an organism’s behav-
- Extinction only occurs 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.
- Pavlov also found that if he began to present the CS and the UCS together again, the
animals would acquire the conditional response very rapidly- much faster than they did
in the first place. - > Stimulus Generalization and Discrimination
- Discrimination training is accomplished by using 2 different CSs during training. 1 CS
is always followed by the UCS; the other CS is never followed by the UCS.
Conditional Emotional Responses
- 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. (Wunsch,
Philippot, Plaghki, 2003)
- Phobias: unreasonable fear of specific objects or situations, such as insects, animals,
or enclosed spaces, learned through classical conditioning.
- Classical conditioning can occur even without direct experience with the conditional
and unconditional stimuli.
What is Learned in Classical Conditioning?
- A neutral stimulus becomes a CS only when the following conditions are satisfied:
- 1. The CS regularly occur prior to the presentation of the UCS
- 2. The CS does not regularly occur when the UCS is absent.
- Blocking: the prevention of or attenuation in learning that occurs to a neutral CS when
it is conditioned in the presence of a previously conditioned stimulus.
- Only if something about the UCS had changed at the time CS2 was introduced would
it provide new information (Rescorla, 1999).
- CC would seem to provide 2-types of information: the what and the when of future
- The what allows animals to learn that a particular event is about to occur. - behavior is
determined by their memory of the event (Rescorla, 1973).- example with fish.
- The when is about the timing of events.
- Inhibitory conditional response: a response conditioned to a signal that predicts the ab-
sence 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 if CR exemplified by Pavlov’s salivation re-
PART III: OPERANT CONDITIONING
- Operant conditioning: a form of learning in which behavior is affected by its conse-
quences. Favorable consequences strengthen the behavior and unfavorable conse-
quences weaken the behavior. The Law of Effect
- Law of effect: Thordike’s idea that the consequences of behavior determine whether it
is likely to be repeated. (example with the hungry cat).
Skinner and Operant Behavior
- Operant chamber: an apparatus in which an animal’s behavior can be easily observed,
manipulated, and automatically recorded.
- Cumulative recorder: a mechanical device connected to an operant chamber for the
purpose of recording operant responses as they occur in time.
- These 2 developments represent clear advancements over Thorndike’s research meth-
ods 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 otherwise interacting with them between trials.
The Three-Term Contingency
- discriminative stimulus: in operant conditioning, the stimulus that sets the occasion for
responding because, in the past, a behavior has produced certain consequences in the
presence of that stimulus.
- Three-term contingency: the relation among discriminative stimuli, behavior, and the
consequences of that behavior. A motivated organism emits a specific response in the
presence of a discriminative stimulus because, in the past, that response has been rein-
forced only when the discriminative stimulus is present. (Skinner)
- The preceding event-the discriminative stimulus- sets the occasion for respond-
ing because, in the past, when that stimulus occurred, the response was fol-
lowed by certain consequences.
- The response we make-in this case, picking up the phone and saying hello
when it rings-is called an operant behavior.
- The following event-the voice on the other end of the line-is the consequence of
the operant behavior.
- These consequences are contingent upon behavior.
Reinforcement, Punishment, and Extinction
- > Positive Reinforcement
- Positive reinforcement: an increase in the frequency of a response that is regularly and
reliably followed by an appetitive stimulus. - > Negative Reinforcement
- Negative reinforcement: