Chapter 12
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Chapter 12. The Limitations of Learning. Limits. Physical Characteristics Non-heritability Heredity of learning ability Neurological Damage Critical Periods Preparedness Instinctual Drift Biological Preparedness Sign Tracking. Physical Characteristics.

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Chapter 12

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Chapter 12

Chapter 12

The Limitations of Learning


Limits

Limits

  • Physical Characteristics

  • Non-heritability

    • Heredity of learning ability

  • Neurological Damage

  • Critical Periods

  • Preparedness

    • Instinctual Drift

    • Biological Preparedness

    • Sign Tracking


Physical characteristics

Physical Characteristics

  • Physiological structure of the species

  • Limitations on behaviours

  • e.g. teaching chimps to

    talk vs. teaching sign language


Nonheritability of learned behaviour

Nonheritability of Learned Behaviour

  • Learned behaviours are not inherited

  • Lamarckian evolution: passing acquired characteristics to offspring

    • Short neck giraffe needs to stretch to reach food

    • Neck gets longer

    • Passes on long neck to offspring


Mcdougall s rats

McDougall’s rats

  • Trained rats to run on avoidance task

  • Trained those rats offspring on avoidance task

  • Trained those rats offspring on avoidance task, etc.

  • Each generation should learn faster (inherit skill of parents, and ancestors)

  • BUT, no control group…


Agar 1954

Agar (1954)

  • Replicated McDougall’s design, but added a control group

  • Control: every second generation was untrained

  • Found same pattern of results with control group

    • i.e. successive generation also learned faster than previous generations

    • But also many fluctuations within both groups

  • Suggests that training of parents has no effect on offspring


Non inheritance

Non-inheritance

  • Inheritance of learning could limit adaptability

  • Advances/changes in ways of thinking

    • e.g. sun revolves around the earth?

  • Traditional male/female roles?


Heredity and learning ability

Heredity and Learning Ability

  • Don’t inherit learned behaviours BUT…

  • Genetic influences on ability to learn

  • Tryon (1940): rats learn maze, breed “smartest” together and “dumbest” together for 18 generations

    • ‘Smart’ rats had ‘smart’ rat pups

    • Not inheriting a learned behaviour, but ability to learn quickly

  • Identical twins reared apart

  • Nature and nurture


Neurological damage

Neurological Damage

  • Neurotoxins

  • Prenatal damage to CNS (e.g., fetal alcohol syndrome, crack cocaine)

  • Envrionmental toxins (e.g., lead)

  • Physical damage (e.g., concussions)


Critical periods

Critical Periods

  • Stage for optimum learning

  • Puppy dogs

  • Konrad Lorenz & Imprinting


Harlow harlow

Harlow & Harlow

  • Monkeys & terry cloth mothers

  • “Pit of despair”

  • Critical period for development of social skills


Preparedness learning

Preparedness & Learning

  • Seligman’s ‘Continuum of Preparedness

    • Prepared

    • Unprepared

    • Contraprepare


Autoshaping

Autoshaping

  • Pigeons peck at key light CS even though unnecessary for arrival of US (food)

  • ‘Prepared’ for learning to peck key-light

  • autoshaping


Instinctive drift

Instinctive Drift

  • Breland & Breland (1961)

  • “miserly” raccoon

  • Contraprepared

  • Innate tendencies (GBTs, FAPs) interfere with learning


Biological preparedness

Biological Preparedness

  • Remember ‘bright-noisy water’?

  • Prepared for ‘flavour’ taste aversion, unprepared for ‘noise’ taste aversion


Learning evolution

Learning & Evolution

  • Like evolution, learning has no specific goal

  • Not all learning is good

    • Learned helplessness

    • Vicarious learning of aggression

    • Drug conditioning


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