Learning and Behavior Change, Week 1 Chapter 1 Notes
Learning and Behavior Change, Week 1 Chapter 1 Notes PSY 217
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by reh5282 on Thursday January 14, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PSY 217 at University of North Carolina - Wilmington taught by Dr. Carole Van Camp in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 23 views. For similar materials see Learning and Behavior Change in Psychlogy at University of North Carolina - Wilmington.
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Date Created: 01/14/16
Chapter 1: Learning to Change Change - “Change is the only constant.” – Lucretius - Our environments are constantly changing - Any individual or species must be able to cope with change if it is to survive. Through: o Evolution – this depends on natural selection and variation o Learning Natural Selection - Darwin’s Origin of the Species (1859) o Species adapt to changes in their environment o Variation is present o Some traits allow an organism to adapt to a changing environment o The traits facilitate reproduction – survival of the fittest o Those traits get passed along to the next generation o Natural selection selects one characteristic over another only if one leads to an increased tendency to produce offspring that survive - Richard Dawkins (The Blind Watchmaker, 1986) o Natural selection requires no intelligent direction - The gray peppered moth o Found on the British Isles o Its survival depends in large part on its ability to escape detection by the birds that find it an appetizing food. o Prior to 1850,was hard to detect against the light trees on which it rested. o The Industrial Revolution darkened the trees, and within a few decades the once-rare black variety became dominant. Mutations - Mutations – chance alterations in the DNA sequence within a single gene o May have no effect on whole organism o May have important adaptive significance o May be a non-adaptive, or dangerous change – “selected out” o Natural selection accounts for most of the differences within a species from one geographic region to another and from one time to another o However, adaptation is also affected by abrupt changes in genes Variation - Differences that exist among the members of a species - Genotype – the genetic makeup of an individual - Phenotype – observable traits in an individual o Behavior or body structure o A result of a genotype Natural Selection - Has produce: o Reflexes o Modal action patterns (MAPs) Aka fixed action patterns o General behavior traits - Variations in behavior and the process of natural selection produce a repertoire of partly innate, adaptive behaviors that include reflexes, modal action patterns, and general behavior traits that help species adapt to their environments Simple Behaviors – What Can We Do Without Learning? Reflexes - A relationship between a specific event and a simple response to that event o Reflex refers to the relationship, not necessarily to the response The patellar reflex is not the knee jerk itself, but the relation between the blow to the patellar tendon and the movement of the foot - Highly stereotypic (invariant) o Sensitization – eliciting a reflex can increase the intensity or probability of a response o Habituation – repeatedly eliciting a reflex decreases intensity or probability of a response Human Reflexes - Patellar Reflex - Achilles Reflex - Plantar Reflex – Babinski - Plantar Reflex – grasp - Pupillary Reflex - Accomodation reflex – lens and pupil size changes in response to moving objects - Corneal reflex – blinking with foreign object in eye - Caloric reflex – irrigating ear canal with both warm (eyes will look at opposite ear, with rapid nystagmus toward irrigated ear) and cold water in the opposite Human Baby Reflexes - Sucking - Grasp reflex - Moro reflex (startle reflex) o Loud noise or unknown stimulus Startle Spread out arms Crying Modal Action Patterns - Similar to reflexes in that they are highly invariable and reliably elicited - Involve complex/long series of reflex-like acts - Started by a releaser - “Animal instincts” o Rooting (pigs) o Burying (dogs, cats) o V formation (birds) o Mating dances (Bird of Paradise) o Mating – released by pheromones General Behavior Traits - Different than Fixed Action Patterns in that there is no specific releaser, and not as stereotypical - Describes generalized traits – aggression, shyness, introversion, etc - Can be hereditary - General behavior traits are more variable than fixed action patterns and are not dependent on a releasing stimulus Limits of Natural Selection - It is slow as a mechanism for coping with change - It is of no value in helping individuals cope with change Learning: Evolved Modifiability - Learning is change in behavior due to experience - Learning itself is a biological mechanism that is the result of natural selection - An individuals is able to modify its behavior to adapt to environment - Adaptive significance o Avoiding foods that make an animal sick o Facilitating mating o Defending territory - Learning is more rapid that natural selection and helps an individual to survive Nature and Nurture - Long standing debate - Nature – traits we are born with - Nurture – behaviors we learn due to experience - Impossible to separate the two o “nurture via nature” o It is unclear where one leaves off and the other begins Summary - We are born with some behaviors, that are a product of our ancestors environments - Learning is how an individual organism adapts to the environment - It is the interaction of behavior with the environment that results in learning
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