Learning How do we learn? Learning Learning is defined as a relatively permanent behavior change due to experience Learning should not be temporary, it should have staying power We know that learning has occurred when the behavior has changed Learning does not occur in a vacuum. It
results, either directly or indirectly from experience Associative learning Associative learning: learning that certain events occur together. The events could be 2 stimuli as in classical conditioning, or a response and its consequence as in operant conditioning. We learn by association. We learn to connect smells to taste, or sounds to outcomes(think music in a scary movie)
Associative learning Associations feed our habits. We associate certain behaviors with certain contexts (popcorn with the movies). This feeds into habitual behaviors like addictions as well. It can make it very difficult, for example, to quit smoking. Smoking is associated with certain places or activities for the smoker. The places or activities then become settings that make it harder to quit. (Siegel, 2005) S. Siegel found that environmental cues can elicit withdrawal symptoms and relapse to drug use. The contribution of drug associated stimuli is connected to Pavlovian conditioning. According to the analysis, addiction treatment should incorporate learning principles to
extinguish the association between the stimuli present and the effects of the addictive drug. Associative learning Animals also exhibit associative learning. Animals learn that certain events precede other events or outcomes, they will adapt to increase positive outcomes or decrease negative outcomes The issue of learning in animals has become significant when dealing with animals raised in captivity but released into the wild. Successful adaptation requires nature(genetic
predispositions) and nurture(appropriate learning) Associative learning Conditioning is the process of learning associations. In classical conditioning, we learn to associate two stimuli and therefore to anticipate/predict events In operant conditioning, we learn to associate a response (our behavior) and its consequence
Classical conditioning Ivan Pavlov was a Russian physiologist studying digestion, when he accidentally discovered classical conditioning The work of Pavlov laid the foundation for the school of thought known as behaviorism. Behaviorism was founded by John Watson Behaviorism believes that psychology should be an objective science based on observable behavior.
Classical Conditioning Pavlov noticed that dogs salivated when they tasted food, but also when they smelled food and often when they saw the food dish. He was studying the digestive system when he made his observations. Although at first he was annoyed by this issue, he came to the realization that the dogs were learning and that he could experiment with this phenomenon. Classical Conditioning
The experiments involved placing dogs in neutral settings with no outside stimuli. Food and later meat powder would be presented to the dogs. Later in the experiment, the food/powder would be presented with a neutral event, something that the dog would not associate with food. The experiment was investigating whether or not the dogs would learn to associate the neutral event with food and would salivate for the neutral event in anticipation of the food. The answer was yes. CC
A tone would be sounded prior to giving the dogs food. After pairing the tone and the food several times, the dogs would salivate at the tone alone. This concept has been studied in humans. Gottfried (2003), showed Londoners abstract pictures coupled with the scents of peanut butter or vanilla, their brains soon responded in anticipation at the sight of the abstract figures alone. CC
Before conditioning US: unconditioned stimulus :food UR: unconditioned response: salivation NS: neutral stimulus: tone During conditioning NS +US= UR Tone + food= salivation After conditioning CS: conditioned stimulus: tone CR: conditioned response: salivation CS = CR
Processes of classical conditioning Acquisition: the initial learning process, when a neutral stimulus is linked to the unconditioned stimulus so that the neutral stimulus starts triggering the conditioned response Classical conditioning Timing is important in classical conditioning. Studies have shown that the CS must precede the US by about to 1
second in order to bring about the CR. There are other types of timing in classical conditioning. Delayed conditioning: the CS precedes the US, but they overlap just a little. This is the best for conditioning, especially if the time delay between CS and US is short. CC Trace conditioning: the CS precedes the US and they do not overlap. The longer the time delay between the CS and the US, the more
difficult conditioning is. Simultaneous conditioning: the CS occurs at the same time as the US. This does not work well and results in poor conditioning. The CS does not predict the US. Backward conditioning: the CS follows the US. Little or no conditioning takes place, unless response is biologically predisposed Processes of classical conditioning Higher order conditioning: a new neutral stimulus can become a new conditioned stimulus. This occurs when a new neutral stimulus is paired with a conditioned stimulus to create a pairing
of the stimuli. This creates a new CS with a usually weaker connection. This is also called second order conditioning. Processes of classical conditioning Extinction: the diminishing of a conditioned response (occurs in both classical conditioning and operant conditioning)
Pavlov discovered that after sounding the tone repeatedly without providing food , the dogs responded less (less and less salivation). This represents extinction. The CR diminishes because the CS no longer indicates US is about to occur. In classical conditioning , extinction occurs when the US is no longer paired with the CS. Processes of classical conditioning Spontaneous recovery: the reappearance, after a pause, of a previously extinguished CR
Spontaneous recovery can only occur after extinction. The unconditioned stimulus does not need to be reintroduced. The recovered response will be weakened. Processes of classical conditioning Generalization: the tendency, once a response has been conditioned, for stimuli similar to the conditioned
stimulus to elicit similar responses Generalization is automatic. An example of generalization would be that a dog might salivate to a different tone. Generalization can be adaptive, as in children taught to fear moving cars and adapt that fear to moving trucks or other vehicles A study from 1986 (Rozin, et al) showed that desirable foods are unappealing when shaped like an unappealing object. For example, fudge made to look like dog feces. Processes of classical conditioning Discrimination: the learned ability to
distinguish between a conditioned stimulus and stimuli that do not signal an unconditional stimulus With large amounts of training (overtraining) Pavlovs dogs learned to discriminate between tones. The dogs would respond to the tone that they had been trained with but not to other tones. Classical conditioning How do cognitive processes and biological constraints affect classical conditioning? In a 1972 study by Robert Rescola and Allan Wagner showed that animals can learn the
predictability of an event. Rats were given a shock preceded by a tone. The tone always preceded the shock. Sometimes a light was used in tandem with the tone. The rats reacted with fear at the tone but not at the light. The light is always followed by a shock but the light does not always occur. The tone is always connected to the shock. So, in the minds of the rats the tone is a better predictor. Classical conditioning The more predictable the association the stronger the conditioned response.
To learn the predictability is a cognitive process, requiring thought to occur. Martin Seligman (1975, 1991)performed experiments with dogs that showed the concept of learned helplessness. Learned helplessness: the hopelessness and passive resignation an animal or human learns when unable to avoid repeated aversive circumstances/events. Learned helplessness In the experiment, dogs were strapped in to a harness and shocked(stage 1). Because the dogs were given no means to escape
the aversive event, most of them learned a sense of helplessness. When later shocked while not harnessed (with an available means of escape)(stage 2) the dogs would cower in fear and helplessness. Dogs that were given a means of escape in stage 1, would escape the shocks in stage 2. Learned helplessness The dogs that had been given a means of escape, had learned personal control.
Learned helplessness in humans has been linked to depression. New therapies have been created to help people who suffer from learned helplessness to overcome this issue, to unlearn helplessness. Some dogs never gave up trying to escape, Seligman and Meier watched as these dogs attempted escape over and over. They became curious about these dogs and expanded the research. Seligman(1991)studied learned optimism, which was the term coined to describe the attitude of the dogs who tried to escape even when there was no hope. This has led to more research on how to help people be more optimistic and less helpless. Together the topics of learned helplessness and learned optimism have led to advances in the fields of depression, death, happiness, optimism, grief and education. Biological predispositions
For many years scientists believed that you could condition all the same, whether people, pigs or pigeons. They also believed that any natural response could be conditioned or connected to any stimulus. How has this changed? Why have these beliefs changed? An animals capacity to be conditioned does seem to be constrained by its biology. The predispositions of each species impacts the learning associations. They are prepared to learn associations based on the connection to survival. Biological predispositions
John Garcia and Robert Koelling(1966), noticed that rats in a radiation experiment were avoiding water in plastic bottles located in the radiation chambers. They wondered of the rats had been classical conditioned to avoid the water. Could the rats have linked the water (CS) to the sickness (UR)caused by the radiation (US)? Biological predispositions The researchers decided to test their hypothesis. They gave the rats a particular taste, sound or sight (CS) followed by radiation (US) that led to sickness (nausea or vomiting). The rats then began to avoid those flavors but not the sights or sounds. These aversions to foods that cause illness could occur even if the US and the CS were separated by hours. These aversions also only connected
to taste not the other stimuli. This indicated to the researchers that not everything could be conditioned. Rats detect tainted, dangerous food through taste and with food illnesses timing is altered. So the researchers concluded that these contradictions were adaptive, to promote survival of the rats. Pavlovs impact What has come of Pavlovs research?
Classical conditioning is seen as a basic form of learning Although his ideas were incomplete, his research has pushed us to new ideas, treatments and further research Why is his work important? 1) many other responses to many other stimuli can be classically conditioned in many other organisms 2) the process of learning can be studied objectively Applications of CC
Foundations of behaviorism Treatment of phobias Treatment of drug addiction (Siegel, 2005) Treatment of depression Motivation studies Health related issues (Ader & Cohen, 1985)
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