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PSY 451A Learning and Memory. Introduction and syllabus Questions and discussion The curious case of neuromarketing Attention and eye-movement measures fMRI: The medial prefrontal cortex and liking EEG studies Measures of emotion

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psy 451a learning and memory
PSY 451A Learning and Memory
  • Introduction and syllabus
  • Questions and discussion
  • The curious case of neuromarketing
    • Attention and eye-movement measures
    • fMRI: The medial prefrontal cortex and liking
    • EEG studies
    • Measures of emotion
    • Can we be made, by environmental cues alone, to do something we don’t really want to do?
explanation in science and human behavior
Explanation in science and human behavior

What is an explanation?

Why do we want to understand?

Clive Wearing

science and human behavior
Science and human behavior
  • Aquinas (1225 - 1274) and Newton (1642 -1727): Two-fold truth
  • The demise of vitalism
  • The success of science spreads
determinism vs free will
Determinism vs. free will
  • To what extent is behavior lawful?
  • Clearly, some thoughts and behaviors are influenced by genetic and environmental factors—at least some of the time.
    • Milgram’s obedience studies (1963, 1974)
    • Male violence (Caspi et al., 2002)
    • Advertising (eg. Smith & Engel, 1968)
    • Sexual attraction (eg. Dutton & Aron, 1974)
    • Neural determinism
what is an explanation
What is an explanation?
  • Explanation connects two variables:
    • Causes and effects
  • Necessary causes vs. sufficient causes
  • In scientific explanations, causes
    • are external to effects
    • initiate processes leading to effects
    • are necessary under the circumstances
    • are sufficient under the circumstances
    • can be generalized as laws or explanations
teleological explanations
Teleological explanations
  • Teleological explanations add cognitive variables
    • Purpose
    • Belief
    • Expectation
    • Deliberation
forming explanations
Forming explanations
  • Forming hypotheses
    • Malaria is caused by bad air.
  • Testing hypotheses
    • Seeking confirming data
    • Seeking disconfirming data
    • The 2 x 2 contingency table
  • Choosing explanations
why do we want to understand
Why do we want to understand?
  • So we can intervene: Control
  • So we can feel better: Retrospective control
  • So we can satisfy our values
  • But notice that we can predict and control some things without being able to explain them.
roots of learning theory
Roots of learning theory
  • Philosophical roots
    • Empiricism and rationalism
    • Associationism
  • Biological roots
    • Physiology
    • Evolutionary theory
  • Challenges to learning theory
philosophical history of learning theory
Philosophical history of learning theory
  • Empiricism and the Ionian cosmologists
  • Rationalism and the Platonic idealists
  • Aristotle and controlled observation
  • Augustine of Hippo (354-430) and the Patristics
and more philosophical history
And more philosophical history
  • Ibn Sina (Avicenna) (980-1037)
  • Ibn Rushd (Averroes) (1126-1198)
  • Rene Descartes (1596-1650), centralized authority, and a new dualism: Interactionism
  • Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679): Humans as machines and laws of the mind: Endeavors
  • Locke (1632-1704), the demise of the Stuarts, and the tabula rasa
the rise of associationism john stuart mill 1806 1873
The rise of associationism: John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)
  • The first four laws of association
    • 1. Temporal contiguity
    • 2. Repetition or exercise
    • 3. Spatial contiguity
    • 4. Intensity of sensations
          • continued...
the rise of associationism mill
The rise of associationism: Mill
  • The last four laws of association
    • 5. Similarity of sensations
    • 6. Recency of pairing of sensations
    • 7. Context complexity
    • 8. Distinctiveness of association
biological bases of learning theory
Biological bases of learning theory
  • Empirical challenges to Descartes:
    • Swammerdam (1637-1680) and Galvani
  • The biological basis of reflex: Helmholtz
  • Reflexes in the mind: Sechenov
  • The influence of Darwin:Random variation, natural selection, and species continuity
  • Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) and the evolution of intelligence
  • Pavlov:Association::Thorndike:Evolution
challenges to learning theory
Challenges to learning theory
  • Representations
  • Insight
  • Preparedness
    • The substitutability test
  • Ethology: Lorenz and Wilson
    • Birdsong learning and the critical period
    • Nest-provisioning in the digger wasp
    • Navigation in bees
the substitutability test
The substitutability test

Substitutable Non-substitutable


Strength of Response




Shock Food Shock Food

ibn sina s faculty psychology
Ibn-Sina’s faculty psychology
  • A hierarchy of faculties
  • Vegetative soul: Faculties of reproduction, growth, and nourishment
  • Sensitive soul: Faculties of sensation, common sense, retentive imagination, combination, creativity, estimation, memory, and recollection, avoidance of pain, approach to pleasure
  • Rational soul: Faculties of practical intellect and contemplative intellect