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Chapter 7

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Psychology 1000
Mark Holden

Chapter 7: Learning and Adaptation: The Role of Experience • Learning: o Learning is the process of experience producing relatively enduring changes in behaviour or capabilities  Learning = ‘knowing how’ • Performance is different  ‘doing’ something • i.e. test anxiety  Unfortunately, we often must use performance to measure learning • i.e. test anxiety  Learning is like adaptation but within a lifetime (as opposed to evolution across generations) • Learning according to Behaviourism o Behaviourism:  Psychology should only focus on observable behaviour of the organism • Focus on performance  Assumed that the organism was a ‘tabula rasa’ (blank slate) • J.B. Watson’s famous claim • Little Albert  Focused on how experiences influence behaviour • Assumed there are Universal Laws of Learning • i.e. all species will increase a rewarded behaviour, decrease a punished behaviour • did a lot of work with animals, in controlled lab settings  Identified many of the major principles of learning • Classical conditioning • Operant Conditioning  But, cognitive and biological factors also play a role in learning… • i.e. cultural impact • Sensory Adaptation o Gradual decline in sensitivity to a stimulus over prolonged stimulation  i.e. swimming pool, smell of perfume  is the result of sensory neurons firing less and less • can’t force yourself to feel cold in the water again • Habituation o Decrease in the strength of response to a repeated stimulus  i.e. ticking clock, feel of clothing  is the result of simple learning processes in the CNS (Not the sensory neurons in the PNS) • kind of like selective attention  helps focus on important • Habituation happens in spinal cord or brain  Allows organisms to attend to other stimuli that are more important • Sensitization o Increase in the strength of a response to a repeated stimulus  i.e. electric shock, ‘mmm-kay’  basically the opposite of habituation • generally helps us avoid potentially dangerous stimuli Classical Conditioning • Classical Conditioning: o Association between two stimuli, such that one comes to produce a response that was initially produced only by the other stimulus  Response: behaviour, mood, physiological response • Significant other’s favourite sweater • Some cases of insomnia • Drug overdose • Smokey, the piano teaching bat  One of the most basic forms of learning • Mammals, birds, etc.  Sometimes called Pavlovian Conditioning • Pavlov’s Research o Physiologist studying digestion in dogs  Interested in saliva and stomach responses to food  But the dogs started to digest before they even got the food o Began new line of research:  Baseline measures • Ring a bell  no salivation • Food  salivation  Learning (Acquisition) phase • Ring a bell + food (a bunch of times)  Testing • Ring a bell  salivate??? • In classic studies, the dog learned to salivate in response to a sound • Neutral stimulus  does not elicit the salivation response • Unconditioned Stimulus (UCS) o The thing that produces the unconditioned response o ‘non-learned’ stimulus • Unconditioned Response (UCR) o Reflexive, innate response to something o ‘non learned’ response  i.e. salivating in response to food • Conditioned Stimulus (CS) o The thing that produces the conditioned response o ‘Learned’ stimulus  We ‘learn’ that it’s worth paying attention to • Conditioned Response o ‘learned’ response  i.e. salivating in response to bell • Acquisition (Conditioning) o Refers to period during which a response is being learned  i.e. the tone + food  Learning trials  each pairing of the CS with UCS o The CS only produces the CR after ‘acquisition’ o Classical conditioning usually strongest when there are repeated CS-UCS pairings with a more intense UCS Extinction and Spontaneous Recovery • Extinction: o After a while of presenting the tone without food, the dog will learn that it is meaningless  response will gradually weaken  eventually stop salivating o Extinction trial:  Every time we present the CS without the UCS • Spontaneous Recovery: o Even after extinction, the conditioned response can suddenly reappear without any new training  Typically happens after a ‘break’ period  Typically weaker response than before, and extinction of the recovered response is faster • Second spontaneous recovery is even smaller, faster to extinguish  Example: • Piano lessons  teaching  recovery  This is why people being treated for phobias need to keep going for sessions now and again, even after being cured Generalization and Discrimination • Imagine we train a dog with a tuning fork at ‘C’ o What will happen if we test the dog with a different tuning fork, also at ‘C’? o What if it was at ‘B’ or ‘D’ or even ‘A’ or ‘E’? • Stimulus Generalization: o ‘generalizing’ the response to something new o A tone that is similar to the original CS will still produce the same CR  Usually the response is weaker and weaker, depending on how big the difference is o Important to be able to generalize appropriate responses, even if the CS isn’t 100% identical o i.e. animal that is attacked after sounds of rustling bushes will know next time to generalize the sound to the earlier attacks • Discrimination: o Discriminating (i.e. being able to tell the difference) between two stimuli/things o A tone that is not very similar to the original CS will not produce the CR o Also equally important to learn when not to respond  Don’t need to jump in the bushes at every sound o Can learn to discriminate things that were originally generalized  i.e. dog bit woman, scared of dogs, many years later, dog most dissimilar to dog that bit her and the woman was fine with the dog Types of Classical Conditioning • Forward, Short-delay: o CS comes on a few seconds before UCS, and continues throughout the duration of the UCS  Despite the term, there is no break between the two  i.e. tone  dinner music, piano lessons o Learning occurs most quickly with this type of conditioning • Forward, Trace pairing o CS comes on AND turns off before the UCS starts  Memory ‘trace’ of the CS, but nothing else  i.e. Farm dog and lightning • Simultaneous pairing: o CS comes on AND turns off at the exact same times as the UCS does o Slower learning • Backward Pairing: o CS comes after the UCS  Can be a ‘short delay’ or ‘trace’ like forward pairing…  Little or no learning at all Higher Order Conditioning • Higher-Order Conditioning o Can link multiple conditioned stimuli  First, associate one CS with the UCS • i.e. tone with food  Next, associate a different CS with the first CS • i.e. associate a black square with the tone • we call the tone CS1 and the square CS2 o Eventually, the square will produce a conditioned response (salivation), even though it was never directly paired with food!  Usually the highest-order CR is the weaker, extinguishes faster Learning in Classical Conditioning • How do we learn fastest or best? • Forward Conditioning is the best o Simultaneous conditioning is OK (slower, weaker) o Backward conditioning is terrible (often no learning) • Learning is faster when the UCS is really strong o give the dog lots of food  faster learning o Pair illness or shock with something  1 trial learning  Taste aversion, fear conditioning are really fast Conditioned Aversion • Conditioned Aversion o Quinine to treat alcoholism o Goal is to create a negative association with the sight, smell, and taste of alcohol o Aversion Therapy o Results are actually very good  Especially if people have ‘booster’ sessions Fear Conditioning • Fear conditioning o Fear response can also be learned through classical conditioning  CS comes to elicit physiological indicators of fear • Heart rate, blood pressure, emotion, muscle tension  The CS actually activates the amygdala! • Amygdala is involved with fear, aggression  Fear conditioning often requires only one trial learning (if the UCS is strong enough) o i.e. Little Albert and the White rats, also scared of furry objects like rabbits and even Santa Claus • Humans an mammals become afraid of neural stimuli that are paired with electric shock • Behavioural treatments partly based on classical conditioning are most effective psychotherapies for phobias  they can be unlearned • Often can be adaptive o i.e. learn to avoid angry, growing dogs  Good that you only have to learn the association once • Sometimes can be maladaptive o Phobias  i.e. Little Albert  hospitalized and feared anything fuzzy and white o Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)  Exposure to an extremely traumatic event often leaves the person with flashbacks, other symptoms of extremely high levels of fear • Flashbacks typically happen when the person is exposed to something similar o i.e. car backfiring sounds a lot like gunfire • fMRI scans of the PTSD patients o Increase in amygdala activity  Especially on the right side o Decrease in frontal lobe activity  Makes it hard to ‘talk yourself down’ o Classical conditioning doesn’t just cause fears  it can treat them!  Key principle: If a fear can be learned, it can be unlearned • Exposure Therapy o Method is basically to expose people to the CS in a safe environment  Exposing the patient to the CS without the UCS is essentially an extinction trial • So the fear response will become extinguished!  J.B. Watson’s plan was to expose Little Albert to the rat without the bar a bunch of times o Systematic Desensitization  Type of exposure therapy in which patients learn relaxation techniques, and gradually works up to the object of their phobia • Learn to relax at one level, move on to the next • i.e. More and close to the subject  New variation on the idea uses virtual reality o Flooding  Type of exposure therapy in which patients are immediately and often drastically exposed to the object of their phobia o Both types of exposure therapy are extremely effective  Seems to support the idea that fears are learned Conditioned Emotion • Receiving a letter (email) from a friend o Might feel happy even before we open it  Showing the handwriting to a baby  no response  So, feeling of happiness must be a conditioned response • Anxiety in writing exams o Most of Mark’s undergrad exams were written in the same gymnasium  Some people would associate the location with ‘feeling dumb’  high test anxiety • Some ads may evoke warm, fuzzy feelings • Others are meant to heighten arousal • Either way, they are trying to capitalize on people’s unconscious ability to form associations o In the first instance, often higher-order conditioning o This is (partly) why they play the same ads, over and over and over  repeated pairing to help form and strengthen the associations o Either between CS1 and CS2 or between CS and UCS • i.e. Rob’s girlfriend used to wear perfume when she was feeling ‘particularly good’ o to this day, Rob is wildly attracted to women wearing that perfume Bell-and –Pad Method • extremely effective method of treating bed-wetting o More effective than prescribed medication! o ‘Pad’ underneath them is very sensitive to moisture  One drop  sounds bell (UCS)  wakes child, causes tightening of key muscles (UCR)  Full bladder (CS) o Eventually, the CS (full bladder) elicits the CR (tightening of the muscles involved) Operant Conditioning • Edward Thordike’s Law of Effect o Placed cats in ‘puzzle boxes’  Needed to perform some series of actions to get out • i.e. press lever, lift bar, step on platform leave  At first, cats would only get out by chance  After multiple sessions, though, they got faster and faster at getting out (with fewer and fewer mistakes) o Improvement in performance was gradual  only trial and error learning  Instrumental learning because the organism’s behaviour is instrumental in bringing certain outcomes o Law of Effect:  In a given situation, a response followed by a ‘satisfying’ outcome will become more likely to occur  Response that is followed by an ‘unsatisfying’ outcome will become less likely to occur • B.F. Skinner o Expanded on the work by Thordike  Still very much in line with instrumental learning and the Law of Effect o Coined the term ‘Operant Conditioning’  Learning in which the likelihood of behaviours are influenced by their consequences • Again, favorable consequences  repeat behaviour • Unfavorable consequences  don’t repeat behaviour o Said learning was like natural selection for behaviour  Beneficial behaviour ‘survives’ and increases in frequency  Harmful behaviour gets weeded out by selection o Skinner Box  Lever for rats to press  Automated dispenser  food pellet when rat presses lever  Cumulated Recorder • Shows number/timing of lever presses o This was before widely available computers ABCs of Operant Conditioning • Learning is as simple as ‘ABC’ o Antecedent  Stimuli present before behaviour (context, setting) o Behaviour o Consequence  Reinforcement  something that increases behaviour  Punishment  something that decreases behaviour o If A is present (If I say sit) o And B emitted (and dog sits) o Then C will follow (then treat) o These are all contingencies  consequence of receiving food is contingent on her response of sitting Classical vs. Operant Conditioning • Classical Conditioning o Associating two stimuli (CS and UCS)  Essentially the CS predicts the UCS o Association happens before the behaviour occurs o Focus on elicited behaviour (involuntary, reflexive)  Dogs can’t control whether they salivate or not • Operant Conditioning o Associating behaviours with consequences  Essentially the behaviour causes the consequence o Association happens after the behaviour occurs o Focus on emitted behaviour  Rat can control whether it presses the lever or not • Some situations involve both classical and operant conditioning o i.e. Feedback on microphone o People may start to cringe/wince as I approach the whiteboard (classical conditioning) o May also start to cover their ears (operant conditioning) Antecedent • Stimuli present before behaviour (context, setting) o i.e. rat presses lever in white box  food o BUT rat presses lever in black box  electric shock • Discriminative Stimulus o Antecedent stimulus that signals certain consequences if a response is made o Wall colour, lighting for the rat example o Toilet flush  D.S. to step out of shower (it gets super hot) o Bell in school  D.S. to go home (or get to class) o Me going ‘ahem’ to start class  D.S. to quiet down • Consequences: o Reinforcement  behaviour is more likely  Positive vs. negative reinforcement  Positive = something is being added to the scene  Negative = something is being taken away o Punishment  less likely  Positive vs. negative punishment • Positive = something is being added to the scene, spanking etc. • Negative = something is being taken away (response cost), removal of a stimulus • • Behavior increases • Behavior decreases • Adding • Positive • Positive Punishment Something Reinforcement • Taking Something • Negative • Negative Punishment Reinforcement • Away o Parent taking Tylenol is a negative reinforcement  takes away headache Operant Extinction • Much like extinction in classical conditioning o In classical conditioning, the CS is no longer paired with the UCS  unlearn the association o In operant conditioning, the consequence is no longer paired with the respon
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