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Associative Learning: Classical and Operant Conditioning

Lecture for 10/10

Kathleen O'Connor

on 23 October 2016

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Transcript of Associative Learning: Classical and Operant Conditioning

Classical Conditioning
Operant Conditioning
Neutral Stimulus (NS)
Unconditioned Stimulus (US)
Unconditioned Response (UR)
Conditioned Stimulus (CS)
Conditioned Response (CR)
stimulus that elicits no response before conditioning
unlearned, naturally occurring response to the US (salivation)
stimulus that naturally and automatically triggers a response
learned response to the previous NS, now the CS
previously the NS, this stimulus triggers the CR after training
Organism learns to
on the environment to produce a
articular response.
Organisms involuntary responses become associated with a particular stimulus
- role of the individual
- type of behavior produced
- sequence of response and reward
Learning is a relatively permanent change in an organism's behavior due to experience
During conditioning, the neutral stimulus (tone) and the US (food) are paired, resulting in salivation (UR). After conditioning, the neutral stimulus (now Conditioned Stimulus, CS) elicits salivation (now Conditioned Response, CR)
Pavlov’s Experiments
Before conditioning, food (Unconditioned Stimulus, US) produces salivation (Unconditioned Response, UR). However, the tone (neutral stimulus) does not.
Pavlov’s Experiments
Text Alert
My dog
What is the NS?
The US?
The UR?
The CS?
The CR?
other examples?
When the US (food) does not follow the CS (tone), CR (salivation) begins to decrease and eventually causes extinction.
After a rest period, an extinguished CR (salivation) spontaneously recovers, but if the CS (tone) persists alone, the CR becomes extinct again.
Spontaneous Recovery
Some specific examples:
Feeling nauseated when you enter the chemotherapy suite
Taste Aversion
Can we learn to feel nauseous?
Applications of Classical Conditioning
Former crack cocaine users should avoid cues (people, places) associated with previous drug use.
Through classical conditioning, a drug (plus its taste) that affects the immune response may cause the taste of the drug to invoke the immune response.
Brown Brothers
John B. Watson
Watson used classical conditioning procedures to develop advertising campaigns for a number of organizations, including Maxwell House, making the “coffee break” an American custom.
Tendency to respond to stimuli similar to the CS is called generalization. Pavlov conditioned the dog’s salivation (CR) by using miniature vibrators (CS) on the thigh. When he subsequently stimulated other parts of the dog’s body, salivation dropped.
Stimulus Generalization
John Watson, Rosalie Rayner, and Little Albert:

an example of
Watson came along at time when biology (racism and classism) was valued at the most important determinate of an individual's potential.
He founded behaviorism and his legacy is in part our modern assumption that parenting practices are tremendously influential to child development.
The other scientist whose name is associated with Behaviorism is B.F. Skinner, the father of Operant Conditioning
Best evidence is that parenting needs to be "good enough." Abuse and neglect do have serious negative effects, in part, through
Skinner based his work on Thorndike's
Law of Effect
Operant Chamber, or "Skinner Box"
What is the food?
Reinforcement - any event that strengthens the behavior that follows it.
Types of Reinforcement:
- a desirable stimulus that is added
- an undesirable stimulus that is taken away
Don't get confused!
Punishment - any event that diminishes the behavior that follows it
Types of Punishment
- a undesirable stimulus that is added
- a desirable stimulus that is taken away
Primary & Secondary Reinforcers
Primary Reinforcer: An innately reinforcing stimulus like food or drink.

Conditioned Reinforcer: A learned reinforcer that gets its reinforcing power through association with the primary reinforcer.
Continuous Reinforcement: Reinforces the desired response each time it occurs.

Partial Reinforcement: Reinforces a response only part of the time. Though this results in slower acquisition in the beginning, it shows greater resistance to extinction later on.
Telephone sales
Reinforcement Schedules
ratio = incidence of behavior
interval = time
Shaping is the operant conditioning procedure in which reinforcers guide behavior towards the desired target behavior through successive approximations.
Skinner's Legacy
No mental processes - only external measurable stimuli and behavior
Cognitive Revolution was just that - a revolution
But - behaviorism has a huge and lasting effect on our lives today
Education - Why is the IF-FAT quiz card based on behaviorist learning techniques? How are the behavior modification programs used in every school in the country based on operant conditioning? What about computers?
What about computer games?
observational learning
receives short treatment relative to
associative learning
, it is clearly not as important.
Reprinted with permission from the American
Association for the Advancement of Science,
Subiaul et al., Science 305: 407-410 (2004)
© 2004 AAAS.
Neuroscientists discovered mirror neurons in the brains of animals and humans that are active during observational learning.
Mirror Neurons
- language
- rehearsal, practice
- empathy
- viewing sports
- romance, pornography
- not as intense for screens
Learning by observation begins early in life.
Imitation Onset
Courtesy of Albert Bandura, Stanford University
Bandura's Bobo doll study (1961) indicated that individuals (children) learn through imitating others who receive rewards and punishments.
Bandura's Experiments
Unfortunately, Bandura’s studies show that antisocial models (family, neighborhood or TV) may have antisocial effects.
Applications of Observational Learning
Bob Daemmrich/ The Image Works
Fortunately, prosocial (positive, helpful) models may have prosocial effects.
Positive Observational Learning
Gentile et al., (2004) shows that children in elementary school who are exposed to violent television, videos, and video games express increased aggression.
Television and Observational Learning
How about video games?
How about learning from YouTube?
homicide rates go up (even double) when TV is introduced to a culture
Should violent video games be banned?
Should text books be replaced by video? How about class lectures?
Sensory Storage
Working Memory
(short-term storage)
Long-Term Storage
-a fraction of a second
-auditory -
-visual -
-limited capacity
-active processing
some information
is forgotten
is forgotten
some information
is forgotten
Modified Atkins and Shifrin's Model of Memory
What is memory?
-Atkins and Shifrin's model
-More efficient neural pathways
Long-term potentiation (LTP)
- prolonged strengthening of neural firing, caused by repetition.
What is a psychological model?
-a scientific theory
-can be tested
-generates research
-depository of data
-some theories are better than others
Where in the brain are these pathways?
- temporary processing site for
- processing
memories caused by
classical conditioning
No one site
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