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Chapter 7

Chapter 7- Learning and Adaptation- The Role of Experience.docx

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Western University
Psychology 1000
Laura Fazakas- De Hoog

Chapter 7­ Learning and Adaptation: The Role of Experience Learning- process by which experience produces a relatively enduring change in an organism’s behaviour or capabilities *Capabilities- highlights a distinction between “knowing how,” or learning, versus “doing,” or performance ADAPTING TO THE ENVIRONMENT *Personal adaptation- learning is a process of personal adaptation to the ever-changing circumstances of our lives HOW DO WE LEARN? • Focused on how organisms learn, examining the processes by which experience influences behaviour • Assumed that there are laws o learning that apply to all organism • Treated the organism as a tabula rasa (blank tablet) where learning experiences are inscribed • Explained learning solely in terms of directly observable events, no speculation of unobservable “mental state” • Not all learned behaviour is adaptive • Cross-cultural research highlights the important impact that culture has on what we learn (culture is the human-made part of our environment) HABITIUATION AND SENSITIZATION Habituation- decrease in the strength of response to a repeated stimulus o Simplest form of learning; occurs within the central nervous system, not within the sensory neurons o Serves a key adaptive function o If organism responded to every stimulus in its environment, it would rapidly become overwhelmed/exhausted o Learning not to respond to familiar stimuli, we conserve energy and attend to other important stimuli Sensitization- increase in the strength of response to a repeated stimulus o Purpose: to increase responses to a potentially dangerous stimulus CLASSICAL CONDITIONING Classical conditioning- a procedure in which a formerly neutral stimulus (the conditioned stimulus) comes to elicit a conditioned response by being paired with an unconditioned stimulus that naturally elicits a similar response (the unconditioned response) • Involves learning an association between stimuli • Warns an organism of the impending arrival of and event BASIC PRINCIPLES Acquisition *Acquisition- refers to the period during which a response is being learned *Neutral Stimulus- does not elicit the intended response Unconditioned stimulus (UCS)- a stimulus that elicits a particular reflexive or innate response (the UCR) without prior learning Unconditioned response (UCR)- a response (usually reflexive or innate) that is elicited by a specific stimulus (the UCS) without prior learning Conditioned stimulus (CS)- a neutral stimulus that comes to evoke a conditioned response after being paired with an unconditioned stimulus Conditioned response (CR)- a response to a conditioned stimulus; the CR is established by pairing a conditioned stimulus with an unconditioned stimulus that evokes a similar response *Forward short-delay pairing- The CS appears first and is still present when the UCS appears *Forward trace pairing- The tone would come on and off, and afterward the food would be presented • Has adaptive value because the CS signals the impending arrival of the UCS *Simultaneous pairing- Presenting the UCS and CS at the same time produce less rapid conditioning *Backward pairing- Learning is slowest/does not occur at all when CS is presented after the UCS • Classical conditioning usually is strongest when there are repeated CS-UCS pairings, the UCS is more intense, the sequence involves forward pairing, and the time interval between the CS and UCS is short Extinction and Spontaneous Recovery Extinction- if the CS is presented repeatedly in the absence of the UCS, the CR weakens and eventually disappears • This eliminates the CR when it is no longer appropriate • Even when a CR extinguishes, does not mean that all traces of it are erased Chapter 7­ Learning and Adaptation: The Role of Experience Spontaneous recovery- the reappearance of a previously extinguished CR after a rest period and without new learning trials • This is the reason why practical applications of extinction, (I.e. treatment for phobias) requires multiple sessions Generalization and Discrimination Stimulus generalization- stimuli similar to the initial CS elicit a CR Discrimination- the occurrence of a CR to one stimulus but not to another stimulus • To prevent stimulus generalization from running amok, organisms must be able to discriminate differences between stimuli High-Order Conditioning High-order conditioning- a neutral stimulus becomes a CS after being paired with an already established CS • Typically produces a CR that is weaker and extinguishes more rapidly than the original CR APPLICATIONS OF CLASSICAL CONDITIONING Acquiring and Overcoming Fear • Key assumption is that if phobias are learned, they can be ‘unlearned’ Exposure therapies- a therapeutic technique designed to extinguish anxiety responses by exposing clients to anxiety- arousing stimuli or situations while preventing escape or avoidance through response prevention • Effective in most cases *Systematic desensitization- the patient learns muscular relaxation techniques and then is gradually exposed to the fear- provoking stimulus *Flooding- immediately exposes the person to the phobic stimulus Conditioned Attraction and Aversion • Much of what does/does not attract and pleasurably arouse us is influenced by classical conditioning Aversion therapy- attempts to condition an aversion (a repulsion) to a stimulus that triggers unwanted behaviour by pairing it with a noxious UCS • Mixed results, produce short-term changes that extinguish over time • Classical conditioning can affect our physical health, Ex. Allergic responses OPERANT CONDITIONING: LEARNING THROUGH CONSEQUENCES THORNDIKE’S LAW OF EFFECT Law of Effect- in a given situation, a response followed by a “satisfying” consequence will become more likely to occur, and a response followed by an unsatisfying outcome will become less likely to occur B.F. SKINNER Operant conditioning- a type of learning in which behaviour is influenced by its consequences • Responses that produce favourable consequences tend to be repeated, and vice versa Reinforcement- a response is strengthened by an outcome that follows it • The outcome (a stimulus or event) that increases the frequency of a response is called a reinforcer Punishment- occurs when a response is weakened by outcomes that follow it • Punisher: a consequence that weakens the behaviour ABCs of Operant Conditioning If antecedent stimuli IF I say “sit” are present AND behaviour is AND my dog Jessie sits emitted THEN she gets a tasty THEN consequence will treat occur Antecedents- stimuli present before a behaviour occurs Behaviours- that the organism emits Consequences- that follow the behaviours • Relations between a, b, and c are called contingencies Chapter 7­ Learning and Adaptation: The Role of Experience Key differences between classical and operant conditioning: Classical Conditioning Operant Conditioning Organism learns association between two stimuli (CS and Organism learns association between behaviour and its UCS) that occurs before the behaviour. consequences. Behaviours changes because of events that occur after it Focuses on elicited behaviours. The conditioned response Focuses on emitted behaviours: in a given situation, the is triggered involuntarily, almost like a reflex, by a stiorganism generates responses that are under its physical that precedes it. control *Many learning situations involve BOTH classical and operant conditioning ANTECEDENT CONDITIONS: IDENTIFYING WHEN TO RESPOND Discriminative stimulus- A signal that a particular response will now produce certain consequences. “Set the occasion” for operant responses CONSEQUENCES: DETERMINING HOW TO RESPOND Positive Reinforcement- a response is strengthened by the subsequent presentation of a stimulus. The stimulus that follows and strengthens the response is called a positive reinforce Negative Reinforcement- a response is strengthened by the subsequent removal or avoidance of a stimulus • Do not confuse neg. reinforcement with punishment. Punishment weakens a response. reinforcement always means that a response is being strengthened Operant extinction- the weakening and eventual disappearance of a response because it is no longer reinforced *Resistance to extinction- the degree to which non-reinforced responses persist Positive Punishment (aversive punishment)- a response is weakened by the subsequent presentation of a stimulus Ex. Spanking/scolding a child for misbehaving, touching a hot stovetop • Limitations: o Punishment suppresses behaviour but does not cause the organism to forget how to make the response o Suppression may not generalize to other relevant situations o Arouses negative emotions (fear and anger), produces dislike and avoidance for the person who delivers the punishment Negative Punishment (response cost)- A response is weakened by the subsequent removal of a stimulus Ex. Being grounded, losing a privilege • Advantages: o Less likely to create a strong fear/hatred of punishing agent o Not modeling physical aggression, less opportunity for learning of aggression through imitation • Punishment teaches the recipient what not to do but does not guarantee that desirable behaviour will appear in its place Primary and Secondary Consequences- Primary Reinforcer- a positive reinforcer that satisfies a biological need, such as food or water Secondary (cond
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