Innate and learned behavior
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Innate and learned behavior. Option E.3. Assessment Statements. E.3.1 Distinguish between innate and learned behaviour . E.3.2 Design experiments to investigate innate behaviour in invertebrates, including either a taxis or a kinesis.

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Assessment statements
Assessment Statements

  • E.3.1 Distinguish between innate and learnedbehaviour.

  • E.3.2 Design experiments to investigate innate behaviour in invertebrates, including either a taxis or a kinesis.

  • E.3.3 Analyse data from invertebrate behaviour experiments in terms of the effect on chances of survival and reproduction.

  • E.3.4 Discuss how the process of learning can improve the chance of survival.

  • E.3.5 Outline Pavlov’s experiments into conditioning of dogs.

  • E.3.6 Outline the role of inheritance and learning in the development of birdsong in young birds.

Two types of scientists
Two types of scientists

  • Ethologists

    • study the behavior of animals in their natural environment

    • Examine patterns of behavior that affect an animal’s life

  • Psychologists

    • Study the behavior of animals in an artificial environment

    • Collect data on learning and motivation that could never be measured in the natural environment




Ancient Greekψυχή (psukhē),  “‘soul’”) + -logia (“‘study of’”)

  • from Greek: ἦθος, ethos, "character"; and -λογία, -logia

Innate behavior
Innate behavior

  • Develops independently of environmental context

    • Spider spins web correctly the first time

    • Infants suckle innately

  • Controlled by genes and inherited from parents

  • Some performed in certain order

    • Mating behavior of the three-spined stickleback fish

Learned behavior
Learned behavior

  • Not genetically programmed

  • Process of gaining knowledge or skills or modifying existing knowledge or skills

  • Learning can only be measured by performance

    • Ex. Pedal pushing results in gain of food

  • Behavior output is not always easily seen, therefore, learning is sometimes difficult to measure

Investigating innate behavior in invertebrates
Investigating innate behavior in invertebrates

  • Innate behaviors can be measured as the animals respond to environmental stimuli

  • Two basic kinds of movement are seen in invertebrate animals:

    • Taxis

    • Kinesis


  • A directed response to a stimulus

  • If the animal’s body is directed toward the stimulus, it has a positive response

  • If the animal’s body is directed away from the stimulus, it has a negative response

  • Taxes are identified by the type of stimuli to which the organism is responding

Innate and learned behavior

  • Chemotaxis: response to chemicals in the environment; experiments involving variation in pH, dissolved drugs, food, pesticides

  • Phototaxis: response to light; experiments involving different wavelengths of light, intensities, and different types of bulb

  • Gravitaxis: response to gravity; experiments with organism in container that is turned upside down or on a turntable

  • Rheotaxis: response to water current; experiment involving animals with and against current

  • Thigmotaxis: response to touch; experiment involving different types of material to touch an organism

Commonly used organisms
Commonly used organisms

  • Planaria

    • Flatworm which lives in lakes and ponds under leaves and rocks and hides for protection

    • Active and move by contraction of muscle fibers in their body

    • Simple nervous system; eyespots which contain photoreceptors; chemoreceptors which respond to certain chemicals (food)

  • Euglena

    • Single-celled protist

    • Has flagellum which propels it quickly through the water

    • Has an eyespot which is stimulated by light

    • Has chlorophyll


  • Movement in response to a non-directional stimulus, such as humidity

  • Rate of movement of the animal depends on the intensity of the stimulus, not its direction

  • Animal does not move toward or away from the stimulus buy randomly until it is in a more comfortable spot

Innate and learned behavior

  • Orthokinesis: when an organism moves slowly or rapidly (changes speed) in response to the stimulus but does not move towards the stimulus

  • Klinokinesis: when an organism turns slowly or rapidly in response to the stimulus but it does not move towards the stimulus

Commonly used organisms1
Commonly used organisms

  • Isopods (woodlice; rollypollies)

    • Terrestrial crustaceans

    • Breath with gills; need moisture in order to breath

    • Live in damp places; die if exposed to dry conditions for a long period of time

Learning improves the chance of survival
Learning improves the chance of survival

  • Learning occurs most easily when it results in the animal’s survival

  • Imprinting – process by which young animals become attached to their mother within the first day or so after hatching or birth; assures that the young stay close to their mother for protection and as a source of food

Innate and learned behavior

  • Food hoarding – store food when it is plentiful and return when there is a shortage; allows them to stay nourished even in times of food shortages

  • Song – attracts a mate and deters rival males

  • How to get food

  • Mimicry

Pavlov and conditioning
Pavlov and conditioning

  • Classical conditioning can be used to modify a reflex response

  • Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov designed experiments to illustrate classical conditioning

  • His subjects were dogs

Innate and learned behavior

  • Salivation is a reflex response to the presence of food in the mouth

  • Food is unconditional stimuluswhich elicits salivation which is unconditional response

  • Neutral stimulation that Pavlov employed was the ringing of a bell

  • He rang the bell (conditioned stimulus) just before the dog tasted the food

  • After training, the could ring the bell (CS) and the dog would salivate (conditioned result)

  • Dog had learned to salivate to the neutral stimulus

Learning of birdsong in young birds
Learning of birdsong in young birds the mouth

  • Each species of bird has a species-specific song which is inherited

  • Birds learn to improve the song they have inherited

  • Birds are able to sing due to their vocal organ, called the syrinx located at the bottom of their trachea

  • Birds control the pitch by altering the tension in the membranes of the syrinx

  • If birds are kept in a lab and denied any auditory stimulation, they produce a crude song

Innate and learned behavior

  • After hatching, there is a memorization phase in which the bird is silent but listening to the song of his species from adults (males)

  • He attempts to match his template to the full adult song

  • Phase if over within 100 days (sensitive period)

  • 2nd phase is motor phase in which he practices singing, continuing to listen to his own song and match it to his father’s

  • As he becomes sexually mature, his song will become perfected and he will begin to search for a mate

  • Crude template is innate; adult song is learned