Learning

  • Types of Learning
    • Nonassociative learning – when an organism is repeatedly exposed to one type of stimulus, ex. habituation and sensitization.
      • In habituation, person tunes out the stimulus.
      • Dishabituation occurs when previously habituated stimulus is removed.
      • Sensitization is increase in responsiveness to a repeated stimulus.
    • Associative learning – when one event is connected to another, ex. classical and operant conditioning.
  • Classical Conditioning: Neutral, Conditioned, and Unconditioned Stimuli and Responses
  • Guinea pig gets excited about carrot at first, but after time gets excited just at refrigerator door opening. Same with every other time refrigerator door opened.
    • Called classical conditioning. Classical does not involve change in behaviour like operant conditioning. op
    • Carrot is an unconditioned stimulus because no one had to teach guinea pig to like carrots. Triggers excitement in guinea pig, an unconditioned response.
      • Unconditioned means it’s innate, and not learned. While conditioned means it’s a learned behavior.
    • Right before guinea pig got carrot, heard refrigerator door – a neutral stimuli. Doesn’t cause excitement on its own.
    • Conditioning is produced when the neutral stimulus is presented shortly before the unconditioned stimulus – pairing the two together. Occurs when neutral stimulus is able to elicit the same response as the unconditioned stimulus).
      • guinea pig was conditioned to refrigerator door.
      • Refrigerator door becomes the conditioned stimuli, and elicits a conditioned response.
  • Classical Conditioning: Extinction, Spontaneous Recovery, Generalization, Discrimination
    • Recall last experiment, guinea pig also responds to desk door opening because it sounds similar to the refrigerator door – generalization. Ability of something similar to the conditioned stimulus to elicit the conditioned response, and more similar they are the bigger the response.
      • Generalization allows us to make appropriate response to similar stimuli. Ex. meeting someone new who smiles, reminds us of other smiles.
    • Guinea pig doesn’t respond to dresser drawer – discrimination, when you respond to some stimuli but not others.
    • If you open refrigerator door and don’t get a carrot anymore, over time she would no longer reactextinction.
    • But suddenly she hears refrigerator door open later, and makes a response – spontaneous recovery (when old conditioned stimulus elicits response). Don’t know why it happens, usually infrequently and less strong.
  • Operant Conditioning: Positive and Negative Reinforcement and Punishment
    • Associated with F. Skinner
    • Operant conditioning focuses on the relationship between behavior and their consequences, and how those in turn influence the behaviour (classical conditioning no change in behaviour)
    • Behaviours have consequences – two types: reinforcement (increase a behavior) and punishment (decrease a behavior)
      • Positive reinforcement = something is being added to increase behavior, ex. a gas gift card for safe driving
      • Negative reinforcement = taking something away to increase tendency safe behavior will occur again. Ex. taking loud buzzing noise keeps going until you put on your seatbelt. Taking away sound of buzzer when you put on seatbelt is negative reinforcement, because taking something away in effort to increase behavior.
      • Positive punishment = punish behaviours that are unsafe. Positive punishment means something is added to decrease tendency something will occur again. Ex. giving speeding ticket.
      • Negative punishment = something taken away in effort to decrease chance it’ll occur again. Ex. taking away your license.
    • Primary reinforcers are innately satisfying/desirable, like food. Secondary reinforcers are those learned to be reinforcers, such as previously neutral stimuli.
    • Token economy – system of behaviour modification based on systematic reinforcement of target behaviour, reinforcers are “tokens” that can be exchanged for other reinforcers (ex. Prizes).
  • Operant Conditioning: Shaping
  • “I want to learn to do a headstand” – emphasize learn. Learning through practice is shaping.
  • Idea is you successively reinforce behaviours that approximate the target behavior.
  • What is the target behavior? headstand.
    • Showing up to yoga class, won’t necessarily make you learn it.
    • Next, put hands on mat (downward dog). Then forearms on mat. Each is the reinforced behavior until next step.
    • Finally, put legs up – the target.
  • Operant Conditioning: Schedules of Reinforcement
  • Most of our behaviours are on a partial reinforcement schedule – behavior is reinforced only some of the time. More resistant to extinction than continuous reinforcement.
    • Fixed-Ratio – ex. car salesman gets bonus every 5 cars he sells. Reinforcement only occurs after a fixed # of responses. Contingent on # of cars sold regardless of how long it takes.
    • Fixed-Interval – receives pay check every 2 weeks – in this case, time is constant. Doesn’t change if he sells 1 car or 100 cars. Less incentive.
    • Variable-Ratio – Reinforcement is delivered after average # of right responses has occurred. Similar to fixed-ratio, except # changes. Just fixed-ratio but varies. Ex. bonus can be 5 cars for first bonus, 3 for second, 7 for third, 6, then 4 etc. Average is 5.
      • Another example is slot machine.
    • Variable-Interval – Responses are reinforced after a variable amount of time has passed. Ex. bonus can come randomly on different days.
  • Operant Conditioning: Innate vs. Learned Behaviours
    • Innate behavior is performed correctly the first time in response to a stimulus – they innately possess.
      • Simple – reflexes (squint or blinking), taxis (bugs fly towards light, can be towards or away from stimulus – a purposeful movement), kinesis (rats randomly scurrying in different directions – no purpose).
      • Complex – fixed action patterns (mating dance), migration (birds flying south), circadian rhythms (biological clock, waking up early to sing)
    • Learned behaviours are learned through experience.
      • Habituation – response to alarm decreases over time. Ex. curing phobia by repeated exposure to the fear until intensity of emotional response decreases.
      • Classical conditioning – associate alarm with fire
      • Operant conditioning – consequences that follow behavior increase/decrease likelihood of behavior happening again
      • Insight learning – solve a problem using past skills, the “aha” moment is insight learning
      • Latent learning– learned behaviour is not expressed until required
  • Operant Conditioning: Escape and Avoidance Learning
  • 2 types of aversive control, situations where behavior is motivated by threat of something unpleasant – examples of negative reinforcement (removing undesirable stimulus following correct behavior)
    • Escape – escape an unpleasant stimulus ex. fire, element of surprise because you’re thrown in condition where you have to find way to get out
    • Avoidance – avoid fire before it arrives
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