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Classical conditioning. Sensitization, habituation, pseudoconditioning, and background conditioning S-S vs S-R theories...or is it something else?. Classical conditioning phenomena. Human conditioning studies Eyeblink conditioning Lemon-drop salivation conditioning Little Albert

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Classical conditioning

Classical conditioning

Sensitization, habituation, pseudoconditioning, and background conditioning

S-S vs S-R theories...or is it something else?

Classical conditioning phenomena
Classical conditioning phenomena

  • Human conditioning studies

    • Eyeblink conditioning

    • Lemon-drop salivation conditioning

    • Little Albert

    • Typical acquisition and extinction curves

    • Optimal CS-US intervals are 200 – 700 ms

    • GSR conditioning has a 3 – 5 second interval

Cs sensitization
(CS) Sensitization

  • In typical classical conditioning experiments, CS reliably precedes US: Contingency exists.

  • If contingency is not present, people will still come to respond to the CS as they experience the US: Sensitization.

  • Thus, sensitization to repeated presentations of the CS will produce responses that only look like conditioned responses.

  • Sensitization also occurs to repeated presentation of strong USs.

Assessing sensitization
Assessing sensitization

  • Compare two experimental conditions (groups) to see if response is a CR or a sensitization response.

    • Condition 1: CS reliably predicts US

    • Condition 2: CS occurs just as frequently, but does not reliably predict US

  • Could the Little Albert results be explained as sensitization? Was there a control condition?

  • Could sensitization explain why some students prefer to study with music playing?


  • UR magnitude decreases as US is presented repeatedly.

  • Habituation is less likely with stronger USs

  • Both sensitization and habituation show learning has taken place, but it is nonassociative learning.

  • Both may interfere with associative learning.

Sniffy details
Sniffy details

  • Sniffy is programmed to habituate to low-intensity shock USs, to sensitize to high-intensity shock USs, and to remain stable under moderate-intensity shock USs.

  • Sniffy output includes

    • Pain (mid-level unless sensitizing or habituating)

    • Fear, a result of conditioning or US presentation

    • CS response strength to various CSs, including the background (cage)

    • Movement ratio, measuring classical conditioning of fear

    • Suppression ratio, measuring effect on operant responding

    • The cumulative record of stimulus presentation and bar-press responses. Ignore this until we start operant conditioning.

Us pseudoconditioning
(US) Pseudoconditioning

  • Repeated presentations of a US may increase the likelihood of responding (with the UR) to any novel stimulus, even if it is not paired with the US as a CS.

  • Little Albert’s apparent conditioning to the rat CS may have been an artefact of the repeated loud noise US: pseudoconditioning.

Assessing pseudoconditioning
Assessing pseudoconditioning

  • Kimble, Mann & Dufort (1955): Human eyeblink conditioning

    • Group 1: 60 paired trials of light CS with airpuff US

    • Group 2: 20 paired trials, 20 US-only trials, 20 paired trials

    • Response patterns were the same in the last 20 trials.

    • The result cannot be due to associative learning in the middle 20 trials.

  • Test pseudoconditioning with unpaired control.

Background conditioning
Background conditioning

  • When the US is too strong to habituate, the US may become associated with the context or background of the learning situation.

  • Thus, in background conditioning, the individual associates the shock with the setting, such as the conditioning chamber.

Conditioned inhibition
Conditioned inhibition

  • Inhibition develops in extinction (Pavlov)

  • Reactive inhibition (Hull) develops in repeated responding

  • Inhibition may be conditioned (Pavlov)

  • Training:

    • CS1(metronome)  US(food)

    • CS1(metronome) + CS2 (whistle)  No US

Testing conditioned inhibition
Testing conditioned inhibition

  • CS1 (metronome)  CR(salivation)

  • CS1(metronome) + CS2(whistle)  No CR

  • Then, the summation test:

  • Train with a new CS:

    • CS3(touch nose) US(food)

  • Test response to CS2 + CS3?

  • Less responding: Conditioned inhibition.

Classical conditioning theory
Classical conditioning theory

  • Watch Pavlov’s experiments.

  • If conditioning does involve association, what is being associated?

    • CS and US?

    • CS and UR/CR?

    • Is the learning S – S or S – R?

S s vs s r theories what is associated
S-S vs . S-R theories: What is associated?

  • Response prevention

    • Learning phase: CS + US  no UR

    • Testing phase: CS  CR

  • US devaluation

    • Learning phase: CS + US  CR/UR

    • Next, devalue the US through satiation

    • Test phase: CS  lessened CR

Classical conditioning theory1
Classical conditioning theory

  • S-S or S-R theories, continued:

  • Sensory preconditioning

    • Preconditioning phase: CS1 + CS2 OR

    • Conditioning phase: CS1 + US  UR

    • Test phase: CS1 CR.

    • CS2 ?

  • Response-prevention, US devaluation, and sensory preconditioning support S - S theory

S s or s r
S - S or S - R ?

  • Second-order conditioning

    • Start with standard pairing of CS1 and US

    • CS1 CR

    • Then pair CS1 + CS2

    • Test: CS2  CR

    • Then devalue US, or extinguish CS1

    • Test: CS2 CR

  • Whether CS connects to US or CR depends on which is more salient

A crucial test
A crucial test

  • Set up a second-order conditioning experiment:

    • CS1(light) + US1 (food)  UR1(salivation)

    • Test: CS1 (light)  CR1 (salivation)

    • CS2(buzzer) + CS1(light)  CR1(salivation)

    • Test: CS2 (buzzer)  CR1 (salivation)

    • Then: CS1 (light) + US2(shock)  UR2(leg lift) (Counterconditioning)

    • Test: CS2


Changing representations
Changing representations

  • Covert conditioning

    • Autoshaping: Light + Food  Key peck

    • But start with Tone + Food  No key peck

    • Pair Tone + light in 2nd order conditioning

      • Autoshaping occurs

    • Supports S-S

  • US devaluation also shows changing representations.

One more second order experiment
One more second-order experiment

  • First autoshape all pigeons to peck at a lighted key CS1, which is sometimes red, sometimes yellow.

  • CR is the key peck.

  • Add CS2 of either vertical or horizontal lines on lighted key.

  • One group then has simple CS1-CS2 pairings (red-vertical and yellow-horizontal), while the other group has complex pairings (sometimes red-vertical, sometimes red-horizontal, etc.).

  • Thus, group 1 has two trial types, and group 2 has four trial types.

  • S-S theory thus predicts better learning for group 1.

  • That is what happens.

Pavlov s studies
Pavlov’s studies

  • This video clip, a reenactment, shows Pavlov’s methods for

  • Measurement of UR and the salivary reflex

  • Discovery of classical conditioning

  • Testing different CSs