PSY 2103 Chapter Notes -Neuroplasticity
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•Traditional Causes of Human Behavior
•metaphysical entities (the soul)
•hypothetical structures of the mind.
•the influence of the moon and tides
•arrangement of the stars
•whims of the gods.
•Science and Behavior
•Behavior theory states that behavior is due to a complex interaction between
genetic influence and behavioral experience.
•Experimental analysis is concerned with controlling and changing the factors
affecting the behavior of humans and other animals.
•The experimental analysis of behavior is a natural-science approach to
•Behavior analysis is a comprehensive, natural-science approach to studying the
behavior of organisms.
1. Discover principles and laws that govern behavior
2. Extend these principles across species
3. Develop an applied technology for the management of behavior.
•Applied Behavior Analysis
•Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a field of study that focuses on the
application of the principles, methods, and procedures of the science of behavior
to solve practical problems.
•Two Types of Conditioning
•Respondent conditioning occurs when a neutral or meaningless stimulus is
paired with an unconditioned stimulus.
1. A respondent is a behavior that is elicited by a conditioned stimulus.
2. Operant conditioning involves a change in operant response as a function
3. Any behavior that operates on the environment to produce an effect is
called an operant.
•Two Types of Conditioning
•The Consequences of Human Behavior
•Rewards: outcomes given to people for completion of an assigned task or
•Incentives: rewards that require the completion of a given task before they are
•Rewards and incentives are reinforcers if and only if their delivery increases or
maintains the occurrence of the behavior that produces them.
•History of Reinforcement
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•The events that serve as rewards, incentives, and reinforcers are largely dependent
on our previous experience with the outcomes.
•Conditioned reinforcers are events that maintain or increase the rate of a behavior
due to past experiences with the event.
•Money, grades, Facebook “Likes,” are all examples of conditioned reinforcers.
•Selection by Consequences
•B. F. Skinner suggested that behavior is selected at three levels:
1. Natural selection: selection of characteristics of a species at the genetic
2. Selection of operant behavior: selection of behavior within the lifetime
of the individual.
3. Cultural selection: behavior patterns of groups of humans beyond a
•Two Kinds of Causation
•Immediate causation is a mechanism where the goal is to isolate the event(s) that
directly bring forth an effect (e.g., neural mechanisms).
1. Immediately producing or resulting in the occurrence.
•Remote causation is explained as viewing distant event(s) that bring forth an
effect; the results of natural selection upon a species (e.g., long-term reproductive
benefits of a large tail for the peacock).
1. Explaining a phenomenon by pointing to remote events that make it likely.
•Causation and Selection by Consequences
•The principle of selection by consequences is a form of explanation via remote
causation called functional analysis.
1. Functional analysis refers to the relation between the action and the
change that it produces in the environment (consequence).
•Behavior analysts explain behavior by looking to its past consequences, the
contingencies of reinforcement. Thus, behavior is selected by its history of
reinforcement . . .
•Selection by consequences applies at the level of natural selection, selection by
operant conditioning, and cultural selection.
•The integration of the science of behavior with neuroscience includes behavioral
pharmacology and the imaging of neural events, among other topics.
•Neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to change with experience, is particularly
important to the understanding of operant behavior.
1. The changes in the interconnections of neurons due to experience.
•The neural basis of reward may help to understand the immediate causal role of
the endogenous opiate and dopamine systems in reward learning.
1. The Evolution of Learning
•Natural selection prepares organisms for the constant elements of their
•As change is a constant, natural selection would have favored organisms whose
behavior could be conditioned by the novel environment.
•Organisms who condition are better adapted, in the sense that they can adjust to
new environments, than organisms that cannot learn.
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