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Unit 6: Learning

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Andrea Wilson

on 19 October 2017

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Transcript of Unit 6: Learning

What is Learning?
Learning is a relatively permanent change in an organism's behavior due to experience
How do we Learn?
By association- Our minds naturally connect events that occur in sequence.
This kind of learning is called
. There are two main forms:
Law of association introduced by Aristotle
Classical Conditioning
Ivan Pavlov - Russian physiologist.
Studying salivary response in dogs
He noticed dogs associated food with the stimuli that was paired with the feeding
These associated stimuli triggered salivation even in the absence of food
Set out to deliberately study these associations
Before conditioning, food (US) produces salivation (UR). However, the tone (NS) does not.

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)

Other Aspects of Classical Conditioning
Acquisition is the initial stage in classical conditioning in which an association between a neutral stimulus and an unconditioned stimulus takes place.

In most cases, for conditioning to occur, the neutral stimulus needs to come before the unconditioned stimulus.
The time in between the two stimuli should be about half a second.

When the US (food) does not follow the CS (tone), CR (salivation) begins to decrease and eventually causes extinction
Spontaneous Recovery
After a rest period, an extinguished CR (salivation) spontaneously recovers, but if the CS (tone) persists alone, the CR becomes extinct again
Stimulus Generalization
Tendency to respond to stimuli similar to the conditioned stimulus

Stimulus Discrimination
The learned ability to distinguish between a conditioned stimulus and other stimuli that do not signal an unconditioned stimulus
Pavlov's Legacy
Cognitive Processes
Early behaviorists underestimated the cognitive aspects of learning
Rescorla and Wagner discovered that animals learn the predictability of a stimulus
Associations can influence attitudes
Biological Predispositions
Early behaviorists believed that laws of learning were similar for all animals. Therefore, a pigeon and person do not differ in their learning.
Any natural response could be paired with any neutral stimulus
This proved incorrect - an animals learning is constrained by its biology. This means that the behavior will be adaptive and allow the organism to survive in its environment

Biological Predispositions
Garcia showed that the duration between the CS and the US may be long (hours), but yet result in conditioning. A biologically adaptive CS (taste) led to conditioning and not to others (light or sound).

Applications of Classical Conditioning
Provided a foundation for further research: John B. Watson & Little Albert
Applications in drug treatment
Fear reduction - Systematic desensitization and flooding
Classical Conditioning VS Operant Conditioning
Classical conditioning forms associations between stimuli (CS and US)
Respondent behavior is an automatic response to stimuli
Classical Conditioning
Operant Conditioning
Operant conditioning forms associations between behaviors and the resulting events
Operant behavior - am organism operates on the environment producing reward or punishment
From Thorndike to Skinner
Edward L. Thorndike
B. F. Skinner
American Psychologist at Columbia University
Studies in learning influential in Educational Psychology
Law of Effect - behavior that is rewarded is more likely to occur again
American Psychologist at Harvard
His experiments in Operant conditioning expanded on the work of Thorndike
Worked with rats and pigeons utilizing an operant chamber/Skinner box
Shaping is the operant conditioning process in which reinforcers guide behavior towards the desired target behavior through successive approximations
A reinforcer is any event that strengthens the behavior it follows. It INCREASES a behavior
Primary reinforcer - an innately reinforcing stimulus like food or drink
Conditioned (secondary) reinforcer - a learned reinforcer that gets its reinforcing power through association with the primary reinforcer
Immediate & Delayed Reinforcers
Immediate Reinforcer - occurs instantly after a behavior. ex. A rat gets a food pellet for pressing a bar
Delayed Reinforcer - there is a delay between the time a behavior is performed and the reinforcer is received. Ex. Paycheck or Grades
We tend to be more motivated by immediate reinforcement
Reinforcement Schedules
Continuous Reinforcement: Reinforces the desired response each time it occurs.

Partial (intermittent) 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

Reinforcement Schedules
Interval (Time)
Ratio (Number)
Fixed-Ratio - Reinforces after a specific number of responses (Scoring a goal)
Variable-ratio: Reinforces after an unpredictable number of responses (slot machine)
Fixed-interval: Reinforces after a specified time elapsed
Variable-interval: Reinforced at unpredictable time intervals
An aversive event that decreases the behavior it follows

Results in unwanted fears
Conveys no information to the organism
Justifies pain to others
Causes unwanted behaviors to reappear in its absence
Causes aggression towards the agent
Causes one unwanted behavior to appear in place of another

Skinner's Critics
Though he believed in inner thought processes and biological underpinnings, Skinner was criticized for discounting them in his research
Latent Learning
Learning that remains hidden until an incentive is given
Module 28: Operant Conditioning's Applications and Comparison to Classical Conditinning
In Schools
Teaching machines
Programmed learning
Reinforcement of Performance
Used to improve sports
Used to increase workplace productivity
Used in parenting to foster good behavior and eliminate unwanted behavior
Module 30:
Learning By Observation
Higher animals, especially humans, learn through observing and imitating others (also called
social learning
Mirror Neurons
Neuroscientists discovered mirror neurons in the brains of animals and humans that are active during observational learning
Bandura's Experiments
Bandura's Bobo doll study in 1961 indicated that individuals (children) learn through imitating others who receive rewards and punishments
Applications of Observational Learning
Bandura's studies show that
models may have antisocial effects
(positive, helpful) models may have prosocial effects
Continued research has shown that violence in the media leads to an increase in aggressive behavior (Gentile et al. 2004)
Research suggests that learning results in permanent, physical changes in the brain
Module 26: How We Learn and Classical Conditioning
Key Terms:

Associative Learning
Cognitive Learning
Classical Conditioning
Neutral Stimulus (NS)
Unconditioned Response (UR)
Unconditioned Stimulus (US)
Conditioned Response (CR)
Conditioned Stimulus (CS)
Higher-order Conditioning
Spontaneous Recovery
Unit 6
When we associate behavior with a consequence, it is called operant conditioning
Classical conditioning
Higher-Order Conditioning (Second-Order Conditioning)
Higher order conditioning is a form of classical conditioning where a new ‘second order’ conditioned stimulus is created, by pairing a new stimulus with a previously created conditioned stimulus.
Pavlov's research showed that many different types of responses can be classically conditioned
Classical conditioning is a type of learning that allows almost all organisms to adapt to their environments
Pavlov's research set the framework for studying psychological principles scientifically
Module 27: Operant Conditioning
Key Terms

Operant Conditioning
Law of Effect
Operant Chamber/Skinner Box
Discriminative Stimulus
Positive Reinforcement
Negative Reinforcement
Primary Reinforcer
Conditioned Reinforcer
Continuous Reinforcement
Partial (intermittent) Reinforcement
Fixed-ratio Schedule
Variable-ratio Schedule
Fixed-interval Schedule
Variable-interval Schedule
Discriminative Stimulus - any stimulus, such as a stop sign or a traffic light that provides the organism with a cue for making a certain response in order to obtain reinforcement
Positive and Negative Reinforcement
Reinforcement always INCREASES the frequency of behavior
Positive: a stimulus presented after a behavior that increases that behavior.
Negative: any stimulus, that when removed after a response, increases the frequency of that behavior
Edward Tolman believed that rats used cognitive processes during maze exploration
Rats seem to develop
cognitive maps
, or mental representations, of the layout of the maze
Key Terms

Biofeedback (in textbook)
Respondent Behavior
Operant Behavior
Respondent Behavior - Behavior that occurs as an automatic response to some stimulus
Operant Behavior - Behavior that operates on the environment producing consequences
Classical VS. Operant Conditioning
Module 29: Biology, Cognition and Learning
Key Terms

Cognitive Map
Latent Learning
Intrinsic Motivation
Extrinsic Motivation
Problem-focused Coping
Emotion-focused Coping
Learned Helplessness
External Locus of Control
Internal Locus of Control
Cognitive Processes and Operant Conditioning
Other Cognitive Considerations
- Sudden realization of a problem's solution
Intrinsic Motivation
- a desire to perform a behavior effectively for its own sake
Extrinsic Motivation
- A desire to perform a behavior to receive promised rewards or avoid threatened punishment
Learning and Personal Control
- alleviating stress using emotional, cognitive, or behavioral methods (which are learned)
Problem-focused coping
- coping strategies that try to eliminate the source of stress or reduce its impact through direct action.
Emotion-focused coping
- coping strategies that change the impact of a stressor by avoiding or ignoring a stressor and attending to emotional needs related to one's stress reaction.
Learned helplessness
- the helplessness and passive resignation an animal or human learns when unable to avoid repeated aversive events
Research by Martin Seligman on dogs
Internal locus of control
- the perception that you control your own fate
External locus of control
- the perception that chance or outside forces beyond your control dominate your fate
Self control
- the ability to control impulses and delay short term gratification for greater long-term rewards
Key Terms:
Observational Learning
Mirror Neurons
Prosocial Behavior
Taste Aversion
Occurs when an organism associates a certain food with symptoms caused by a toxic, spoiled, or poisonous substance.
Generally developed after food causes nausea, sickness, or vomiting.
Can be extremely long lasting
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