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Chapter 1

Learning and Behaviour- Chapter 1.docx

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Anneke Olthof

Learning and Behaviour- Chapter 1 Introduction -numerous aspects of the behaviour of both human and nonhuman animals are the result of learning -learning: one of the biological processes that facilitate adaptation to one’s environment—learned adjustments to the environment are just as important as learned physiological processes -learning can consist of the decrease or loss of a previously common response -procedural learning: learning that does not require awareness -declarative/episodic learning: learning that is more accessible to conscious report -features of the environment gain the capacity to trigger out behaviour whether we like it or not Historical Antecedents -theoretical approaches to learning have their roots in Rene Descartes, as before him people thought that behaviour was controlled by conscious intent and free will rather than external stimuli -dualism: according to Descartes there are two classes of human behaviour; involuntary (reflex) and voluntary -stimuli in the external environment are assumed to be the cause of all involuntary behavior that produce involuntary responses by the way of the neural circuit that includes the brain -Descartes believed that nonhuman animals lacked free will and only had the involuntary response mechanism, because only humans were thought to have a mind and soul Historical Developments in the Study of the Mind -Descartes thought the mind was connected to the brain by the pineal gland which is why he thought some of the minds contents came from sense experiences -nativism: the philosophical approach that assumes that we are born with innate ideas about certain things such as God, concept of self etc.—Descartes believed this -empiricism: preconception that the mind starts out as a blank slate and begins to be filled after a person is bornthis was the view of John Locke -hedonism: according to this principle, people do things in pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of painthis was the view of Thomas Hobbes -it was thought that associations were the building blocks of mental activity Rules of Association -there were two sets of rules for the establishment of associations 1. Primary rules a. Contiguity -if two events occur repeatedly together in space or time, they will become associated b. Similarity -if two things are similar they will be remembered together c. Contrast -if two things contrast they will also be remembered because of their opposites 2. Secondary Rules -a number of other factors influence the formation of associations between two sensations and how frequently or recently the two sensations occurred together Historical Developments in the Study of Reflexes -behaviour can reflect a triggering stimulus- found that the more intense the stimulus is, the more vigorous the resulting response would be , however stimulus does not always elicit reflex response directly -it was later found that the vigor of an elicited response foes not depend on the intensity of the triggering stimulus, as small pieces of dust can cause a vigorous sneeze -Ivan Pavlov showed that new reflexes to stimuli can be established through the mechanism of association -much of the modern behavior theory has been built on the reflex concept of stimulus-response or S-R units and the concept of associations The Dawn of the Modern Era -research is now often conducted on non-human animals and in the tradition of reflexology Comparative Cognition and the Evolution of Intelligence -interest in comparative cognition was sparked by Charles Darwin after Descartes suggested that humans were above all and only they had a mind and soul -Darwin argued that the human mind was a product
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