Chapter 2: Elicited Behaviour, Habituation and Sensitization 10/03/2013
Elicited behavior behavior that occurs in reaction to specific environmental
Elicited responses range from simple reflexes to more complex behavior sequences and complex emotional
responses and goaldirected behavior. They are responses involved in the coordination of habituation and
sensitization. Learning is most successful if it takes into account the preexisting behavior structures of the
All animals react to events in their environment. A reflex involves two closely related events : an eliciting
stimulus and a corresponding response. Presentation of the stimulus is followed by a response and the
response rarely occurs in the absence of a stimulus.
Sensory neuron (afferent): transmits the sensory message to the spinal cord. Neural impulses are relayed
to the motor neuron (efferent) which activates muscles involved in the reflex response. The impulses from
one to the other are relayed through at least one interneuron. All together they consist of the
Most reflexes contribute to the wellbeing of the organism. They are the behavioral repertoire for infants.
Respiratory occlusion reflex is necessary for survival. If baby does not receive air it will suffocate. (p.35
Response sequences that are typical of a specific species are referred to as modal action patterns
(MAPs). The threshold for the eliciting such activities varies. Same stimulus can have widely different
effects depending on physiological state of the animal and its recent actions. Speciesspecific actions
patterns aka fixed action patterns that emphasize that the activities occurred pretty much the same way in
all members of a species. But now seen as MAPS.
The specific features that are found to be required to elicit pecking behavior are
called sign stimulus or releasing stimulus . An exaggerated sign stimulus is a supernormal
stimulus. Traumatic events elicit strong defensive modal action patterns (PTSD, eye blink reflex and startle
response are examples). Sign stimulus and supernormal stimuli have a major role in social and sexual
behavior. Responses do not occur in isolation of one another but organized by individual actions into effective
behavior sequences. All motivated behavior involves systematically organized
sequences of actions. Early components of behavior sequence called appetitive behavior and
end components are called consummatory behavior (consummation of species response sequence).
Consummatory responses are highly stereotyped species behaviors that have specific eliciting or releasing
stimuli. Appetitive behaviors are less stereotyped and can take a variety of forms.
i.e. people of different cultures have different ways of preparing food (appetitive) but chew and swallow
same way (consummatory).
How animals obtain food: General search mode ▯ focal search mode ▯ food handling
and ingestion mode.
General search occur when the subject does not know where to look for food. General responses are not
spatially localized while focal search is.
The decline in responding that occurs with repeated presentation of a stimulus is called a habituation
effect. VERY PROMINENT FEATURE IN ALL SPECIES AND SITUATIONS. Habituation
Visual cues elicit a looking response (p.42). Visual attention paradigm is a good tool in the study of infant
perceptions and a complex form of cognition.
If someone unexpectedly blows a horn behind your back you are likely to jump. This is a startle
response. This consists of sudden jump and tensing of muscles of upper part of the body, and blinking
of eyes. It can be measured by placing subject on a surface that measures of sudden move