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Classical Conditioning – Ch. 3
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  1. Classical Conditioning – Ch. 3 Theories of Learning September 7, 2005 Class #7

  2. What is Learning? • Learning is a relatively permanent change in behavior due to experience • We learn primarily by identifying relationships between events and noting regularity of patterns in our world

  3. Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) • Was a research physiologist, not a psychologist • At age 33, earns MD degree • Spends next 20 years studying the digestive system • Russia’s first Nobel Prize winner in 1904 • Very impressive stuff but not what he’s remembered for… • Rather its his novel work done over the final 30 years of his life that earns him his place in scientific history

  4. Sometimes its just better to be lucky… • Pavlov serendipitously discovers the conditioning response • He’s working on digestive system and is measuring the amount of saliva his dogs were producing when food was presented to them… • But then “psychic secretions” start messing up his experiments

  5. Ivan Pavlov • First, considered them as an annoyance but then realized he had stumbled onto something of even greater importance… • Devotes rest of life until his death at age 86 exclusively to the study of learning

  6. Classical Conditioning Important Terms • Acquisition • Initial learning of the stimulus-response relationship • Neutral stimulus (NS) • In classical conditioning, the NS does not initially elicit the response that is being studied • Unconditioned stimulus (UCS) • In classical conditioning, this is the stimulus that elicits the unconditioned response (UR) without conditioning

  7. Classical Conditioning Important Terms • Conditioned stimulus (CS) • In classical conditioning, this is the stimulus which comes to elicit a new response by virtue of pairings with the unconditioned stimulus • Unconditioned response (UCR) • In classical conditioning, the automatic (involuntary), unlearned reaction to a stimulus • Conditioned response (CR) • A learned response elicited as a result of pairings between that NS and an UCS

  8. Elicited Behaviors • Behaviors that are classically conditioned are those which involve the learning of involuntary (reflexive) responses -- responses over which the learner has no control and to which he or she responds reflexively or “automatically” • Startle Response • Automatic defensive reaction to something • Orienting Response • Automatic body movement allowing us to attend to the stimulus • Flexion Response • Automatic jerk away from something dangerous • Reflex Arc • Based on the learning of the flexion response • Allows us to become quicker through our experiences

  9. Pavlov’s Classical Conditioning Experiments • UCS ------------------------------------------- UCR (food) (salivation) • NS -------------------------------------------- NO RESPONSE (tone) (no salivation) • NS + UCS ----------------------------------- UCR (tone) (food) (salivation) * This is repeated several times… •  CS --------------------------------------------- CR (tone) (salivation)

  10. Simple Mechanisms of Learning • Habituation • Decrease in the strength of an elicited behavior after repeated presentations of the eliciting stimulus • Sensitization • Increase in the strength of an elicited behavior after repeated presentations of the eliciting stimulus

  11. Opponent-Process Theory of Emotion • Solomon & Corbit (1974) • Two assumptions: • Any reaction to a stimulus is followed by the opposite reaction • For example: sky-diving • Initial reaction: arousal (terror) • Opposite reaction: calm (relief) • Repeated exposure to the same stimulus causes the initial reaction to weaken and the opposite reaction is quicker and stronger • For example: the fifth or sixth ride on the same roller coaster on the same day doesn’t produce the effect it did on the first ride

  12. Katcher et al. (1969) • Procedure: • Electric shock to our “best friends” then shock is removed • Results: • HR increases dramatically during treatment • What about afterwards?

  13. Opponent-Process Theory of Emotion • Two competing processes involved here: • A-Process • This is directly elicited by the event • B-Process • This is elicited by the A-Process and counteracts the A-Process

  14. Maybe it depends on the individual??? • Fenz and Epstein (1967) • Found that experienced jumpers generally have a lower Ievel of anxiety than inexperienced jumpers • However, the main difference between the two groups is not in the level of response but rather in the pattern of response • For novice jumpers, fear response rises steadily from the morning of the jump until the "ready" signal preceding bailout, and drops to normal after landing • For experienced jumpers, the fear response peaks early on the day of the jump and drops to below normal just before bailout • Measurements taken after landing show that the fear response of experienced jumpers rises to normal shortly after landing