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Chapter 7

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Psychology 1000

Psychology 1000 – Chapter 7: Learning and Adaptation: The Role of Experience Learning: a process by which experience produces relatively enduring change in an organism’s behavious or capabilities Adapting to the Environment: Learning is a process of personal adaptation to the ever-changing circumstances of our lives Why Do We Learn?: Behaviourism: focused on how organisms learn, examining the processes by which experience influences behaviour Ethology: focused on animal behaviour within the natural environment Adaptive Significance: How a behaviour influences an organism’s chances for survival and reproduction in its natural environment Fixed Action Pattern: an unlearned response automatically triggered by a particular stimulus  Some can be modified by experience Crossroads of Learning: Biology, Cognition, and Culture: Behaviourism and ethology have converged in recent decades Personal Adaptation: occurs through the laws of learning discovered by behaviourists; results from our interactions with immediate and past environments Species Adaptation: through natural selection, genetically based features that enhance a species’ ability to adapt to the environment are more likely to be passed on to the next generation The ability to learn is necessary for an individual and a species to survive. Every organism must learn: 1. Which events are, or are not, important to its survival and well-being 2. Which stimuli signal that an important event is about to occur 3. Whether its responses will produce positive or negative consequences Habituation: a decrease in the strength of response to a repeated stimulus  Is very different from sensory adaptation  You may habituate to a stimulus, but that sensory information is still available if it becomes relevant Classical Conditioning: an organism learns to associate two stimuli, such that one stimulus comes to produce a response that originally was produced only by the other stimulus - A basic form of learning that occurs involving learning an association between stimuli Pavlov’s Research: - Presented various types of food to dogs and measured their natural salivary response - He noticed that with repeated testing, the dogs began to salivate before the food was presented, such as when they heard the footsteps of the approaching experimenter, or a bell rang before feeding - Learning by association came to be called classical or Pavlovian conditioning Basic Principles: Acquisition: the period during which a response is being learned Neural Stimulus: does not elicit response Unconditioned Stimulus (UCS): a stimulus that elicits a particular reflexive or innate response without prior learning Unconditioned Response (UCR): natural, unlearned (unconditioned) reflex Conditioned Stimulus (CS): a neural stimulus that gains value through learning Conditioned Response (CR): a learned (conditioned) response Extinction and Spontaneous Recovery: Extinction: When a CS is presented repeatedly in the absence of the UCS, the CR weakens and eventually disappears  Extinction Trial: each presentation of the CS without the UCS For extinction, the key ingredient is not the mere passage of time, but repeated presentation of the CS without the UCS Spontaneous Recovery: the reappearance of an extinguished CR after a rest period, and without new learning trials Generalization and Discrimination: Stimulus Generalization: Stimuli similar to the initial CS elicit a CR Discrimination: when a CR occurs to one stimulus but not to others (ex. snakes but not all animals) Higher-Order Conditioning: when a neutral stimulus becomes a CS after it is paired with another CS Acquiring and Overcoming Fear: Exposure Therapies: exposing a phobic patient to their feared stimulus (CS) without any UCS, allowing for extinction - Systematic Desensitization: a patient learns muscular relaxation techniques and then is gradually exposed to the fear-provoking stimulu
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