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Chapter 2

Learning and Behaviour-Chapter 2

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Anneke Olthof

1 Learning and Behaviour-Chapter 2 Elicited Behaviour, Habituation and Sensitization -elicited behaviour is behaviour that occurs in reaction to specific environmental stimuli; responses range from simple reflexes to more complex behaviour sequences -elicited responses are involved in two of the most basic and common forms of behavioural change; habituation and sensitization (potentially involved in all learning processes) -organisms were born with pre-existing behaviour systems and tendencies that set limits on how learning occurs and what the impact of learning can be—closer to the nativist position The Nature of Elicited Behaviour -all animals react to events in their environments, much of behaviour occurs in reaction to stimuli The Concept of Reflex -a reflex involves two closely related events; an eliciting stimulus and a corresponding response—the stimulus and response are linked as a consequence of the nervous system -environmental stimulus for a reflex activates a sensory neuron (also known as afferent neuron), which transmits the sensory message to the spinal cord, which then relays the message to the motor neuron (also known as efferent neuron) which activates the muscles involved in the reflex response sensory and motor neurons rarely communicate directly; the messages between one another are relayed through the interneuron sensory—interneuron—motor neuron—these make up the reflex arc -reflex arc: enables a stimulus to elicit a reflex response; keep in mind that additional neural structures are also involved in the elicitation of reflexes -respiratory occlusion reflex is when the baby has response reflex when they are having trouble breathing such as moving its hands in a sweeping motion across the face and throwing the head back Modal Action Patterns -other forms of elicited behaviour occur in just one species or in a small group of related species (such as sucking an object placed in front of the mouth is a characteristic of mammalian infants) -modal action patterns (MAPs): a response exhibited by most, if not all, members of a species in much the same way—MAPs are used as basic units of behaviour in ethological investigations of behaviour -modal action behaviours have been identified in many aspects of animal behaviour such as sexual and territorial defense -important feature of model action patterns is that the threshold for eliciting such activities varies; the same stimulus can have widely different effects depending on the physiological sate of the animal and its recent reactions -early Ethologists referred to species-specific action patterns as fixed action patterns to emphasize that the activities occurred pretty much the same way in all members of a species, but it was found that action patterns are not performed in exactly the same fashion each time, they are not strictly fixed which is why MAP is used now Eliciting Stimuli for Modal Action Patterns -stimulus responsible for a modal action pattern can be more difficult to isolate if the response occurs in the course of complex social interactions -ex. the herring gull chick pecks the mothers beak in order to get the regurgitated food, but what stimulates the chick’s pecking response?—to isolate what exactly was stimulating the pecking Tinbergen and Perdeck tested the chicks with artificial models and concluded that a model had to have several 2 characteristics to strongly elicit peckinghad to be a long, thin, moving object pointed downward and had a contrasting red patch near the tip -sign stimulus/releasing stimulus: a specific feature of an object or animal that elicits a modal action pattern in another organism -supernormal stimulus: an artificially enlarged or exaggerated sign stimulus that elicits an unusually vigorous response -once a sign stimulus is identified it can be exaggerated to elicit a vigorous response -find that traumatic events have come to elicit very strong defensive modal action patterns; early components of the defensive action pattern include eye-blink reflex and the startle response -modal action patterns involved in sexual arousal and copulatory behaviour are elicited by visual, olfactory, tactile and other types of sign stimuli that vary among speciesbreasts and lips are naturally occurring sign stimuli for human social behaviour The Sequential Organization of Behaviour -responses do not occur in isolation to one another, individual actions are organized into functionally effective behaviour sequences -all motivated behaviour involves systematically organized sequences of actionssuch as looking for food, going to it, opening it up, and eating it -appetitive behaviour: behaviour that occurs early in a natural behaviour sequence and serves to bring the organism into contact with a releasing stimuluscan take a variety of different forms depending on the situation; such as for a squirrel they can run up a tree or jump from a tree to get to food -consummatory behaviour: behaviour that serves to bring a natural sequence of behaviour to consummation or completion (these responses are usually species-typical modal action patterns)consisting of chewing and swallowing -consummatory responses are highly stereotyped species’ typical behaviours that have less eliciting or releasing stimuli (more species specific), where appetitive behaviours are more variable and are apt to be shaped by learning, such as people in different cultures preparing their foods in different ways -learning effects often depend on which component of the behaviour sequence is modified -general search mode: the earliest component of a feeding behaviour sequence, which organism engages in a non-directional locomotors behaviour (APPETITIVE BEHAVIOUR) -focal search mode: second component of the feeding behaviour sequence following general search, organism engages in behaviour focused on a specific location or stimulus that is indicative of the presence of food (APPETITIVE BEHAVIOUR) -food handling and ingestion mode: last component of feeding behaviour sequence, which organism handles and consumes food (CONSUMMATORY BEHAVIOUR) Effects of Repeated Stimulation -Descartes believed that a simple reflex response will automatically occurs the same way every time the eliciting stimulus was presented; however we know that even simple elicited responses do not occur the same way each time Salivation and Hedonic Ratings of Taste in People -taste of food elicits salivation as a reflex responsedid a study with women and the rate of salivation with lemon juice or lime juice and were asked how much they liked the taste on each trial -found that salivation responses increased slightly from trial 1 to trial 2, but after that responding systematically decreased; also found a similar pattern in the hedonic (pleasure) ratings of the taste, therefore as it was elicited 10 times, it became less effective at eliciting salivation and hedonic responses 3 -however on Trial 11, they switched the lemon juice to lime, and found that salivation was once again elicited -habituation effect: progressive decrease in the vigor of elicited behaviour that may occur with repeated presentations of the eliciting stimulusevident in virtually all species in situations -individuals habituated to the taste of lemon showed invigorated responding when tested with the taste of lime at the end of the experiment and (vice versa), thus habituation was stimulus specific -this is an important factor for even chefs at expensive restaurants, as they can’t have a person getting bored within the first 10 bites, therefore they prepare their food where every bite has a different flavour -therefore if you are trying to lose weight, you should try to make all food taste the same, so you get bored easier with it -did a test with children, one group was busy doing a task while the other was doing nothing, they were both given food and it was found that the children doing the task had less habituation effects, as the child’s attention was diverted from the tastehelps us to understand why people eat more having dinner with friends or in front of the TV Visual Attention in Human Infants -visual cues elicit a looking response, which can be measured by how long an infant keeps his or her eyes on one object before shifting gaze elsewhere -did a study with babies; one group looked at a picture with a few squares while the other looked at a picture with a lot of squaresdisplayed for 10 seconds and the stimuli were presented 8 times at 10 second intervals; both stimuli elicited visual attention initially, with babies spending an average of 5.5 seconds looking at it -with repeated presentation the picture with fewer squares showed progressive decrease in attention (habituation), the other picture with more squares produced an initial sensitization effect as there was increased looking in the trial 2, but after that visual attention to stimulus also habituated -shows that visual attention elicited by a novel stimulus changes as babies gain familiarity with the stimulus; the nature of change is determined by the nature of the stimulus -with the 4x4 pattern, a progressive habituation effect occurs, with a more complex pattern a transient sensitization occurs, then followed by habituation -other race effect refers to how we are better able to distinguish people of our own race better than we can with other races  did a study with babies and found that infants were more skilled at detecting small changes in facial features when those changes were variations in their own race than when they were variations in another race -visual attention paradigm has become a prominent tool in the study of infant perception as well as more complex forms of cognition The Startle Response -part of an organisms defensive reaction to a potential or actual attack -stabilimeter chamber is used to measure the startle response in rats, the chamber rests on pressure sensors and when the rat is startled it jumps and jiggles the chamber -startle reaction can be elicited in rats by a variety of stimuli, including brief loud tones and bright lights -study was done that found that the most intense startle reaction was observed the first time the tone was presented, and then less intense reactions would occur which indicated the habituation effects of the stimulus presentations, thwever long-term habituation did not result in complete loss of startle reaction as even on the 11 day the rats still reacted slightly -in phase 2 of the experiment, startle reactions ceased when the tone presentations occurred every 3 seconds (startle response went way below the 11 day response), however in phase 3, when trials were th administered again just once a day, the startle response recovered to the level of the 11 day 4 -spontaneous recovery: recovery of a response produced by a period of rest after habituation or extinction -in the study of the rats and the tone, spontaneous recovery occurred simply because the tone had not been presented for a long time -if the stimuli are presented widely spaced in time, a long term habituation effect occurs, which persists for 24 hours or more (such as using
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