What is “learning”? Hummingbirds know to fly south in the winter. Is this learning? Hummingbirds found feeders in my yard and drink from them regularly through the summer. Is this learning? If my feeders were consistently empty, would they keep coming back?
Instinct An inherited tendency of an organism to behave in a certain way, usually in reaction to its environment and for the purpose of fulfilling a specific need. The development and performance of instinctive behavior does not depend upon the specific details of an individual's learning experiences. (The American Heritage Science Dictionary) Salmon spawning Birds building nests Bears hibernating
Learning Any relatively permanent change in behavior brought about by experience or practice.
1. Learning by Association Learning that certain events occur together 1. Simple Associations Aplysia Snails Lightning and Thunder 2. Response-Outcome Associations Trained Seals Studying for an exam
Conditioning! Another word for “Learning by Association”
2 kinds of Conditioning Classical Conditioning— simple association. Operant conditioning— response-outcome association
2nd Kind of “Learning” By Observation Learning from others’ experiences and examples
Classical Conditioning Behaviorism: the view that psychology should be an objective science that studies behavior without reference to mental processes. John B. Watson (1878-1958) – the Father of behaviorism "Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I'll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select--doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief, and, yes, even beggarman and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors" –John Watson, Behaviorism, 1930
Classical Conditioning Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) Russian scientist 1905 Won Novel prize for research into the digestive system. Led to work with dogs and their saliva secretion. Found that dogs “learned” signals that foods were coming and would salivate in anticipation.
Classical conditioning Learning to make an involuntary (reflex) response to a stimulus other than the original, natural stimulus that normally produces the response.
Unconditioned (unlearned) stimulus (UCS): a naturally occurring stimulus that leads to an involuntary (reflex) response, such as food in the mouth. Unconditioned (unlearned) response (UCR): The involuntary (reflex) response to a naturally occurring or unconditioned stimulus, such as salvation when food is in the mouth.
Conditioned (learned) stimulus (CS): Stimulus that becomes able to produce a learned reflex response by being paired with the original unconditioned stimulus. A tone is paired to food.
Conditioned (learned) response (CR): Learned reflex response to a conditioned stimulus. A tone triggers salivation the same as food itself.
Example: Every time someone flushes a toilet in the apartment building, the shower becomes very hot and causes the person to jump back. Over time, the person begins to jump back automatically after hearing the flush, before the water temperature changes. Unconditioned stimulus (US)? Hot water Unconditioned response (UR )? Jumping Back Conditioned stimulus (CS)? Toilet flush Conditioned Response (CR )? Jumping back
Example: you eat a new food and then get sick because of the flu. However, you develop a dislike for that food and feel nauseated whenever you smell it. Unconditioned stimulus (US)? The Flu Unconditioned response (UR )? Nausea Conditioned stimulus (CS)? The new food Conditioned Response (CR )? Nausea
An individual receives frequent injections of drugs, which are administered in a small examination room at a clinic. The drug itself causes increased heart rate but after several trips to the clinic, simply being in a small room causes an increased heart rate Unconditioned stimulus (US)? The drug Unconditioned response (UR )? Accelerated heart rate Conditioned stimulus (CS)? Small room Conditioned Response (CR )? Accelerated heart rate
Suzie’s mom hates most animals. When little Suzie was in the backyard playing, a cat wandered into the yard. Suzie then saw her mom coming running to her, yelling and screaming, making Suzie cry. Now Suzie is afraid of cats. US? UR? CS? CR?
Conditioned emotional response Little Suzie’s phobia demonstrates an emotional response that has become classically conditioned to occur to learned stimuli, such as a fear of cats. Conditioned emotional reactions occur often. Think about: Commercials Test anxiety Animal training Sexual attraction
Other key points Acquisition: The initial stage in classical conditioning, the phase associating a neutral stimulus with an unconditioned stimulus so that the neutral stimulus comes to elicit a conditioned response. It helps organisms prepare for good or bad events.
Extinction: The disappearance or weakening of a learned response following the removal or absence of the unconditioned stimulus (in classical conditioning). Pavlov’s dogs stopped salivating when he repeatedly failed to present food with the CS. Suzie learns that cats aren’t so bad. After a few weeks, the person learns the shower doesn’t change temperature with a toilet flush.
Spontaneous recovery The reappearance of a learned response after extinction has occurred. Recovering Addicts seeing drug paraphernalia. Sudden response to an old phobia.
Stimulus Generalization: The tendency to respond to a stimulus that is only similar to the original conditioned stimulus with the conditioned response. Pavlov’s dogs would respond to tones other than the original tone. Little Albert became afraid of all small animals. Abused children can be extremely sensitive to angry faces and have stronger reactions to them than non-abused children.
Stimulus Discrimination: The tendency to stop making a generalized response to a stimulus that is similar to the original conditioned stimulus because the similar stimulus is never paired with the unconditioned stimulus. The learned ability to distinguish between a conditioned stimulus and stimuli that do not signal an unconditioned stimulus. Pavlov could teach his dogs to respond to one tone and not another—to discriminate between stimuli. Most of us would respond fearfully to an angry pit pull, but not to a golden retriever.
Limitations to classical conditioning. Cognitive processes -- learning is more than mindless responding. Animals seem to develop expectancy. People are able to mediate with experience. Biological predispositions -- an animal’s capacity for conditioning is constrained by its biology. Each species predispositions prepare it to learn the associations that enhance its survival.
Conclusions Almost all organisms learn to adapt to their environment using classical conditioning. Pavlov’s experiments showed how a process like learning could be studied objectively.