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York University
PSYC 1010
Heather Jenkin

LEARNING, MEMORY, THINKING AND LANGUAGE MODULE 20 – BASIC LEARNING CONCEPTS AND CLASSICAL CONDITIONING How Do We Learn? • Learning – is the process of acquiring new and relatively enduring information or behaviors • By learning we are able to adapt to environments • Learn through association -> our minds naturally connect events that occur in sequences • Learned associations feed our habitual behaviors – as we repeat behaviors in a given context, the behaviors become associated with the contexts • Associative Learning – learning that certain events occur together o The events may be two stimuli (classical conditioning) or a response and its consequence (operate conditioning) • In classical conditioning, we learn to associate two stimulus and thus to anticipate events • In operant conditioning, we learn to associate a response (our behavior) and its consequence. o Repeat acts with good results and avoid acts followed by bad results • Stimulus – any event or situation that evokes a response • Cognitive Learning – the acquisition of mental information, whether by observing events, by watching others or through language o Acquire mental information that guides our behaviors Classical Conditioning • Ivan Pavlov (1849 – 1936) – early 20 century experiments explored classical conditioning • Behaviorism – the view that psychology should be an objective science that studies behavior without reference to mental processes Pavlov’s Experiment • Respondent Behavior – behavior that occurs as an automatic response to some stimulus • Neutral Stimulus (NS) – a stimulus that elicits no response before conditioning • Unconditioned Response (UR) – in classical conditioning an unlearned natural occurring response (salvation), to an unconditioned stimulus • Unconditioned Stimulus (US) – a stimulus that unconditionally – naturally and automatically triggers a response • Conditioned Response (CR) – a learned response to a previously neutral (but now conditioned) stimulus • Conditioned Stimulus (CS) – an originally irrelevant stimulus that after association with an unconditioned stimulus (US), comes to trigger a conditioned response (CR) • Conditioned – learned, unconditioned = unlearned Acquisition 1 LEARNING, MEMORY, THINKING AND LANGUAGE • The initial stage, when one links a neutral stimulus and an unconditional stimulus so that the neutral stimulus begins triggering the conditioned response • In operant conditioning the strengthening of a reinforced response • Classical conditioning Is biologically adaptive because it helps humans and animals prepare for good and bad events • Conditioning helps animals survive and reproduce – by responding to cues that help it gain food, avoid dangers, locate mates and produce offspring’s • Higher – order conditioning – a procedure during which the conditioned stimulus in one conditioning experience is paired with a new neutral stimulus creating a second (often weaker) conditioned stimulus Extinction and Spontaneous Recovery • Extinction – the diminishing of a conditioned response, occurs in classical conditioning when an unconditioned stimulus (US) does not follow a conditioned stimulus (CS) o Occurs in operant conditioning when response is no longer reinforced o Example – the diminishing responding that occurs when the CS (tone) no longer signals the impending US (food) • Spontaneous Recovery – the reappearance after a pause, of an extinguished conditioned response Generalization – the tendency once a response has been conditioned, for stimuli similar to the conditioned stimulus to elicit similar responses • The tendency to respond likewise to stimuli similar to the conditioned stimulus (CS) Discrimination – the learned ability to distinguish between a conditioned stimulus and stimuli that do not signal an unconditioned stimulus (between conditioned stimulus and an irrelevant stimulus) MODULE 21 – OPERANT CONDITIONING • Learning – the process of acquiring new and relatively enduring information or behaviors • Classical conditioning and operant conditioning are both forms of associative learning • Classical conditioning forms associations between stimuli, it involves respondent behavior – actions that are automatic responses to a stimulus • Operant Conditioning – a type of learning in which behavior is strengthened if followed by a reinforcer or diminished if followed by a punisher o Organisms associate their actions with consequences o Behavior that operates on the environment to produce rewarding or punishing stimuli is called operant behavior Skinner’s Experiment • B.F Skinner (1904 – 1990) work elaborated on what psychologist Edward L Thorndike called the law of effect 2 LEARNING, MEMORY, THINKING AND LANGUAGE • Law of Effect – Thorndike’s principle that behaviors followed by favorable consequences become ore likely and that behaviors followed by unfavorable consequences become less likely • Skinner developed a behavioral technology that revealed principles of behavior control • Operant Chamber – a chamber also known as a skinner box, containing a bar or key that an animal can manipulate to obtain a food or water reinforcer o Attached devices record the animals rate of bar pressing or key pecking o Designed this for his pioneering studies • Reinforcement – any event that strengthens the behavior it follows • Shaping – an operant conditioning procedure in which reinforces guide behavior toward closer and closer approximations of the desired behavior Types of Reinforcers • Positive Reinforcement – increasing behaviors by presenting positive reinforcers o A positive reinforcer is any stimulus that when presented after a response, strengthens the response • Negative Reinforcement – increasing behaviors by stopping or reducing negative stimuli o A negative reinforcer is any stimulus that when removed after a response, strengthens the response o Negative reinforcement is not punishment, negative reinforcement removes an aversive event • Primary Reinforcer – an innately reinforcing stimulus such as one that satisfies a biological need • Conditioned Reinforcers – a stimulus that gains its reinforcing power through its association with a primary reinforcer, also known as a secondary reinforcer Reinforcement Schedules • A pattern that defines how often a desired response will be reinforced • Continuous Reinforcement – reinforcing the desired response every time it occurs o Learning occurs rapidly but so does extinction, when reinforcement stops the behavior stops as well • Partial (intermittent) reinforcement – reinforcing a response only part of the time which results in slower acquisition of a response but much greater resistance to extinction than does continuous reinforcement o Learning is slower to appear but resistance to extinction is grater than with continuous reinforcement • Fixed – Ratio Schedule – in operant conditioning a reinforcement schedule that reinforces a response only after a specified number of responses o Coffee shops may reward us with a free drink after every 10 purchases • Variable – Ratio Schedule – a reinforcement schedule that reinforces a response after an unpredictable number of responses o Slot machines players and fly casting anglers experience o It is what makes gambling hard to extinguish 3 LEARNING, MEMORY, THINKING AND LANGUAGE • Fixed – Interval Schedule – a reinforcement schedule that reinforces a response only after a specified time has elapsed o People checking the mail as the delivery time approaches/a hungry child jiggles Jell-O to see if it has set • Variable – Interval Schedule – a reinforcement schedule that reinforces a response at unpredictable time intervals o Constantly checking Facebook messages or emails, you never know when the waiting will be over Punishment – An event that tends to decrease the behavior it follows Respondent Behavior – behavior that occurs as an automatic response to some stimulus Operant Behavior – behavior that operates on the environment, producing consequences Applications of Operant Conditioning • School – Skinner proposed machines that would reinforce students for correct responses, allowing students to improve at different rates and work on different learning goals. • Sports – Athletes improve most in the shaping approach in which they are reinforced for performance that comes closer and closer to the target skill (e.g., hitting pitches that are progressively faster). • Work – some companies make pay a function of performance or profit rather than seniority; they target more specific behaviors to reinforce. • Parenting 1. Rewarding small improvements toward desired behaviors works better than expecting complete success, and also works better than punishing problem behaviors. 2. Giving in to temper tantrums stops them in the short run but increases them in the long run. • Self-Improvement – reward yourself for steps you take toward your goals. As you establish good habits, then make your rewards more infrequent (intermittent). Contrasting Types of Conditioning Classical Conditioning Operant Conditioning Associating events/stimuli with Associating chosen behaviors with Basic Idea each other resulting events Response Involuntary, automatic reactions Voluntary actions “operating” on our such as salivating environment NS linked to US by repeatedly Behavior is associated with Acquisition presenting NS before US punishment or reinforcement Extinction CR decreases when CS is Target behavior decreases when repeatedly presented alone reinforcement stops Spontaneous Extinguished CR starts again Extinguished response starts again Recovery after a rest period (no CS) after a rest (no reward) Generalizatio When CR is triggered by stimuli Response behavior similar to the n similar to the CS reinforced behavior. Discriminatio Distinguishing between a CS and Distinguishing what will get n NS not linked to U.S. reinforced and what will not 4 LEARNING, MEMORY, THINKING AND LANGUAGE MODULE 22 – EFFECTS OF BIOLOGY AND COGNITION, AND LEARNING BY OBSERVATION Role of Biology in Conditioning Classical Conditioning • John Garcia and others found it was easier to teach associations that make sense for survival. • Food aversions can be acquired even if the UR (nausea) does NOT immediately follow the NS. • When acquiring food aversions during pregnancy or illness, the body associates nausea with whatever food was eaten. • Conditioned responses can alter attitudes, even when we know conditioning causes the change. Operant Conditioning • Operant conditioning encounters biological tendencies and limits that are difficult to override. • In fixed-interval reinforcement, animals do more target behaviors/ responses around the time that the reward is more likely, as if expecting the reward. • Expectation as a cognitive skill is even more evident in the ability of humans to respond to delayed reinforcers such as a paycheck. • Higher-order conditioning can be enabled with cognition; e.g., seeing something such as money as a reward because of its indirect value. Cognitions Influence on Conditioning • Cognitive learning – the acquisition of mental information, whether by observing events, by watching others or through language • Cognitive map – a mental representation of the layout of ones environment, rats appear to form cognitive maps o Evidence of these maps is revealed once the cheese is placed somewhere in the maze. After only a few trials, these rats quickly catch up in maze solving to rats that were rewarded with cheese all along. • Latent learning – refers to skills or knowledge gained from experience, but not apparent in behavior until rewards are given. • Intrinsic motivation refers to the desire to perform a behavior well for its own sake. The reward is internalized as a feeling of satisfaction. o Intrinsic motivation can sometimes be reduced by external rewards, and can be prevented by using continuous reinforcement. • Extrinsic motivation refers to doing a behavior to receive rewards from others. • One principle for maintaining behavior is to use as few rewards as possible, and fade the rewards over time. 5 LEARNING, MEMORY, THINKING AND LANGUAGE • Observational learning: watching what happens when other people do a behavior and learning from their experience, learning by observing others • Skills required: mirroring, being able to picture ourselves doing the same action, and cognition, noticing consequences and associations. • Modeling – the processes of observing or imitating a specific behavior Mirrors and Imitation in the Brain Albert Bandura’s Bobo Doll Experiment (1961) • Kids saw adults punching an inflated doll while narrating their aggressive behaviors such as “kick him.” • These kids were then put in a toy-deprived situation and acted out the same behaviors they had seen. Mirroring in the Brain • Mirror Neurons – frontal lobe neurons that some scientist believe fire when performing certain actions of when observing another doing so o The brains mirroring of another’s action may enable imitation and empathy • When we watch others doing or feeling something, neurons fire in patterns that would fire if we were doing the action or having the feeling ourselves. • These neurons are referred to as mirror neurons, and they fire only to reflect the actions or feelings of others. From Mirroring to Imitation • Humans are prone to spontaneous imitation of both behaviors and emotions (“emotional contagion”). • This includes even over-imitating, that is, copying adult behaviors that have no function and no reward. Applications of Observational Learning • Mirroring enables observational learning; we cognitively practice a behavior just by watching it. • If you combine this with vicarious reinforcement, we are even more likely to get imitation. • Monkey A saw Monkey B getting a banana after pressing four symbols. Monkey A then pressed the same four symbols (even though the symbols were in different locations). • Prosocial behavior refers to actions, which benefit others, contribute value to groups, and follow moral codes and social norms. • Parents try to teach this behavior through lectures, but it may be taught best through modeling especially if kids can see the benefits of the behavior to oneself or others. Antisocial Effects of Observational Learning • Children who witness violence in their homes, but are not physically harmed themselves, may hate violence but still may become violent more often than the average child. MODULE 23 – STUDYING AND BUILDING MEMORIES 6 LEARNING, MEMORY, THINKING AND LANGUAGE Studying Memories • Memory – the persistence of learning overtime through the storage and retrieval of information • Recall – a measure of memory, in which a person must retrieve information learned earlier (fill in the blanks test) • Recognition – a measure of memory in which a person need only identify items previously learned (multiple choice test) • Relearning – a measure of memory that assesses the amount of time saved when learning material again Memory Models • Encoding – the process of information into memory system, getting information into our brain • Storage – the retention of encoded information over time, retaining that information • Retrieval – the process of getting information out of memory storage, getting that information back out • Simultaneous processing, one information processing model, connectionism views memories as a product of interconnected neural networks • Specific memories arise from particular activation patterns within these networks • Every time you learn something, your brains neural connections change, forming and strengthening pathways that allow you to interact with and learn from your constantly changing environment • Sensory memory – the immediate, very brief recording of sensory information in the memory system • Short - Term memory – activated memory that holds a few briefly such as phone number when dialing before information is stored or forgotten o It holds information not just to rehearse it, but also to process it (such as hearing a word problem in math and doing it in your head). o Integrates information from long-term memory with new information coming in from sensory memory. • Long – Term memory – the relatively permanent and limitless storehouse of the memory system, includes knowledge, skills and experiences • Working memory – a newer understanding of short term memory that focuses on conscious, active processing of incoming auditory and visual – spatial information, and of information retrieved from long term memory The Atkinson-Shiffrin Model (1968) • Atkinson and Shiffrin’s model focused on how we process our explicit memories 1. Stimuli are recorded by our senses and held briefly in sensory memory. 2. Some of this information is processed into short-term memory and encoded through rehearsal 3. Information then moves into long-term memory where it can be retrieved later. Dual – Track Memory 7 LEARNING, MEMORY, THINKING AND LANGUAGE • Explicit memories – memory of facts and experiences that one can consciously know and declare (also known as declarative memory) • Our mind processes on two tracks – processes explicit memories through conscious effortful processing • Effortful processing – encoding that requires attention and conscious effort o Studying, rehearsing, thinking, processing, and then storing information in long-term memory. • Outside this model, information skips our conscious encoding and barges directly into storage • Automatic processing – unconscious encoding of incidental information, such as space, time and frequency and well learned information such as word meanings o Happens without our awareness and produces implicit memories (non declarative memories) • Implicit memories – retention independent of conscious recollection (non declarative memories) o Include procedural memory for automatic skills (riding a bike) and classically conditioned associations among stimuli (certain smells) o Implicit memories are formed without our awareness that we are building a memory, and without rehearsal or other processing in working memory. • The two track memory system reinforces an important principle of parallel processing o We split information into different components for separate and simultaneous processing Building Memories • Without conscious effort you automatically process information about space, time and frequency • One track tucks away routine details while the other track is free to focus on conscious effortful processing • Effortful processing begins with sensory memory which feeds our active working memory • Working Memory, which uses rehearsal, focus, analysis, linking, and other processing, has greater capacity than short-term memory o The capacity of working memory varies; some people have better concentration. • George Miller (b. 1920) proposed that we could hold 7+/-2 information bits (for example, a string of 5 to 9 letters). • The average person, free from distraction, can hold about: 7 digits, 6 letters, or 5 words. Sensory Memory • Iconic Memory – a momentary sensory memory of visual stimuli, a photo graphic or picture image memory lasting no more than a few tenths of a second o Sterling’s experiment demonstrated this 8 LEARNING, MEMORY, THINKING AND LANGUAGE • Echoic Memory – a momentary sensory memory of auditory stimuli, if attention is elsewhere, sounds and words can still be recalled within 3 – 4 seconds Effortful Processing Strategies 1. Chunking – organizing items into familiar, manageable units, often occurs automatically 2. Mnemonics – memory aids, especially those techniques that use vivid imagery and organizational devices 3. Hierarchies – broad concepts divided and subdivided into narrower concept and facts (aims to help you organize memory concepts) 4. Distributed Practices • Spacing effect – the tendency for distributed study or practice to yield better long term retention than is achieved through massed study or practice • Testing Effect – enhanced memory after retrieving, rather than simply reading, information, also sometimes referred to s a retrieval practice effect or test – enhanced learning Method of Loci • Use imaginary physical environment and placement of images • More difficult with some stimuli • Easier with concrete objects than with abstract concepts Dual Coding Theory – memory enhanced if use both verbal and visual codes Levels of Processing • Massed Practice – refers to cramming information all at once it is not time-effective. • Shallow Processing – encoding on a basic level based on the structure or appearance of words • Deep Processing – encoding semantically, based on the meaning of the words, tends to yield the best retention • Self-reference effect – relating material to ourselves, aids encoding and retrieval MODULE 24 – STOARGE: RETAINING INFORMATION IN THE BRAIN Memory Storage: Capacity and Location • The brain is NOT like a hard drive. • The brain’s long-term memory storage does not get full • Parts of each memory can be distributed throughout the brain. Neural Networks • Each item in memory is represented by a pattern or set of nodes • Nodes activated simultaneously • Referred to as parallel distributed processing models Memory Processing in The Brain 9 LEARNING, MEMORY, THINKING AND LANGUAGE • Retrieval and use of explicit memories, which is in part a working memory or executive function, is directed by the frontal lobes • Events and facts are held there for a couple of days before consolidating, moving to other parts of the brain for long-term storage. • Implicit memories include skills, procedures, and conditioned associations Explicit Memory Formation • Hippocampus – a neural center located in the limbic system that helps process explicit memories for storage o Encoding and storage of explicit memories is facilitated by the hippocampus o Sleep supports memory consolidation, During sleep the hippocampus processes memories for later retrieval o Cortex areas surrounding the hippocampus support the processing and storing of explicit memories ‘ Implicit memory Formation • Basal ganglia – next to the thalamus, controls movement, and forms and stores procedural memory and motor skills. o We can learn to ride a bicycle even if we can’t recall having the lesson • Cerebellum – (“little brain”) forms and stores our conditioned responses. We can store a phobic response even if we can’t recall how we acquired the fear Infantile Amnesia • Implicit memory from infancy can be retained, including skills and conditioned responses • Explicit memories, our recall for episodes, only goes back to about age 3 for most people • Encoding: the memories were not stored well because the hippocampus is one of the last brain areas to develop • Forgetting/retrieval: the adult mind thinks more in a linear verbal narrative and has trouble accessing preverbal memories as declarative memories Emotions and Memory • Amygdala o Strong emotions, especially stress, can strengthen memory formation o Stress hormones provoke the amygdala to i
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