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Week One Notes/ Chapter One Notes

by: alvey.15 Notetaker

Week One Notes/ Chapter One Notes Psych 5600

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These notes cover chapter one of the lectures and text. Next weeks notes will cover chapter two.
Psychobiology of Learning and Memory
Derek Lindquist
Class Notes




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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by alvey.15 Notetaker on Tuesday January 19, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Psych 5600 at Ohio State University taught by Derek Lindquist in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 133 views. For similar materials see Psychobiology of Learning and Memory in Psychlogy at Ohio State University.


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Date Created: 01/19/16
Psychobiology of Learning and Memory (1/12-1/14) notes. Nativists vs. Empiricists Empiricists believed that knowledge was accumulated through experience. Nativists believed that knowledge was innate or you were born thth knowledge. This debate started in the time of ancient Greece and continued until the 19 century. Today we know this debate as Nature vs. Nurture and know that learning and behavior stems from both genes and environment. Nativists Plato believed knowledge was accumulated from past lives and stored in the soul of an individual. He wrote the Republic that described his nativist views by telling a story of a society where everyone was born with specific traits and areas of interest that determined where they were placed in society. For example, some people were born to lead and some born to be peasants. According to Plato, the only way for the society to function efficiently is for everyone to accept their place and innate skills. Rene Descartes believed in one principle which was “cogito ergo sum”. This translates to “I think therefore I am.” He questioned the reality of life around him and believed the only thing he could truly have faith in was his mind and thoughts. He supported the theory of dualism- the idea that the mind and body are separate. A great insight he had was the idea that our bodies have nerves that run throughout our brain and body. These nerves react to a stimulus and produce behavior. The idea that a stimulus can cause a behavior he called a reflex arc or action. The only off aspects of his theory was that he believed the pineal gland to be the seat of the mind and it was filled with animal spirits that flowed through the tubes (nerves) in our body to control response to a stimulus. Erasmus Darwin was Charles Darwin’s grandfather. He was in favor of the theory of evolution but could not answer the questions of how the traits arose in a species? and how do the traits become modified in a species? Jean Baptiste Lamarck responded to the trait questions by theorizing that traits were passed down to offspring from their mothers and the behavior of the mother determined the modification of the trait in the offspring. For example, if a mother giraffe had a short neck and could not reach leaves on a tree she would have to stretch her neck to reach them or die of hunger. The mother passes on the “stretched neck” traits on to her offspring and the offspring will pass on more traits to their offspring. Baptiste was partially correct because his idea resonates with the mechanism of epigenetics- a mother’s experience can be passed to the offspring. If the mother takes chemicals, eats certain foods, and has increased stress this can effect how tightly the DNA is wrapped around histones. Charles Darwin traveled on the ship The Beagle for five years and cataloged the different species of birds on the Galapagos islands. He observed that the birds on the islands that had a lot of fruit and nuts had thick beaks. In contrast, birds from the islands that had a lot of insects had thin beaks. These observations were proof that the theory of evolution was a possible explanation to trait variation. Darwin proposed his theory of natural selection or survival of the fittest as the mechanism to evolution occurring in a species. Natural selection has three components: inheritability, variability, and fitness. The trait must be inheritable to be passed on to offspring, there must be variation of the trait within the species (ex. Long necks and short necks of giraffes), and the trait must promote fitness- or the survival and reproduction of the species. Francis Galton was also a grandson of Erasmus Darwin. He advanced the use of statistics in science. In one of his experiments he hypothesized that the people that were prayed for more often would live longer lives. He designed a correlational study to see if there was a relationship between the amount of prayer a group of people received and the average life expectancy. His experimental group was nobility and monarchs while his experimental group was the average population. He found that the average population lived an average of three years longer than nobility. He did not account for confounds such as stress levels, nutrition, or access to medical care. Galton found that many variables followed a normal distribution such as memory and height and developed the bell curve. He was a proponent of natural selection and coined the idea of eugenics in which the strongest, smartest, and most attractive individuals should mate for the advancement of the human species. Eugenics was a factor in the Nazi movement and lost credibility after WWII. Empiricists Aristotle was a student of Plato but believed that knowledge was gained through an accumulation of experience. He collected data on the observable world and formed theories. His theory on how memories were formed and accessed was called associationism. Associationism is the theory that memories are formed by links between events, sensations, and ideas and the recall of one event, sensation or idea can trigger the recall of the linked one. According to Aristotle links are formed by contiguity, frequency, and similarity. Contiguity is when two links happen in close spatial and/or temporal events. For example, you hear thunder and then see lightning during a thunderstorm during a very short period of time so that is why you associate thunder with lightning. Frequency is how often you see the two events, sensations, or ideas associated with one another. Another example, if you experience many thunderstorms with thunder and lightning the link between the two words becomes stronger. Similarity is the sameness between the two links. Using the thunderstorm example again, the sameness between thunder and lightning are that they are both happen in the sky, both require a person to find shelter, and both usually are precursors to rain. John Locke was influenced by the ideas of Aristotle and believed in the term tabula rasa- that everyone was born as a blank slate and could acquire knowledge through experience. His idea that everyone is born equal and should have access to a good education regardless of societal status contributed to the Declaration of Independence. Complex Associations was his theory that small associations are formed and made in to complex objects or meanings in memory. For example, the association orange and hot would form the object fire in memory. William James used associationism to try and explain habit formation. He also formed a node model to explain how associations are formed. If a woman is out on a date with a man at the movies and he is wearing a strong cologne and the next week she has coffee with him and he is wearing that same cologne it could trigger the memory of their date. The same aspect or node of the two events can form a link in a person’s memory and can elicit a similar behavior. The idea that the cologne is a stimulus that can elicit a behavior was influenced by Descartes’s reflex arc theory. James is considered the father of psychology by many and wrote the first book on psychology called The Principles of Psychology (1890) Ivan Pavlov and Edward Thorndike were also empiricists. There will be more on their experiments in the Experimental Psychology section. New Model Theories of Memory in the 19 centuryh William James’ node model of memory depends on 1) how frequently the reflex arc is established or how often the stimulus and response happens to strengthen the memory and 2) that memories are recalled and formed based on associations. James also theorized primary memory, now called working memory, and secondary memory, now long term memory. Maine de Biran theorized three types of memory 1) sensitive memory- memory of emotional stimuli and events 2) mechanical memory- memory of movement and habits 3) representative memory- can remember events and facts from the past Experimental Psychology Hermann Ebbinghaus was interested in the amount of time it takes to forget and relearn material. He did not have the money to conduct an experiment, much less provide for himself, so he did a memory experiment on himself. He made a list of twenty nonsense syllables so that he would not confound the experiment with words he favored or already had memorized. After learning the twenty words he would wait and then test himself on his memory of the words. He reviewed, waited, and retested himself until he got all the words correct. His methodology of learn, wait, test and repeat was important for later memory studies. Ebbinghaus made a retention curve that plotted the percent of words remembered on the y axis (dependent variable) and the time in hours on the x axis (independent variable). This retention curve is a reliable and valid measure of memory because it has been reproduced in multiple other memory studies. Ivan Pavlov was studying the digestive system of dogs when he noticed that the dogs began salivating before their food showed up. He began wondering if there was an association the dogs had made with a certain person or sound and the arrival of food. Classical conditioning is the idea that stimulus can be paired with a response. The variables in classical conditioning are the unconditioned response (UR), conditioned response (CR), unconditioned stimulus (US), and conditioned stimulus (CS). The CS in Pavlov’s experiment was the bell that signaled the arrival of food, the US was the food, the CR was salivation at the sound of the bell, and UR was salvation to the food. When sounding the bell (CS) before the arrival of food (US) the dogs would begin to salivate at the sound of the bell (CR) after many trials. Pavlov developed the learning curve that showed the time it took (independent variable) for the dogs to show the CR (dependent variable). Extinction is the concept that that the CR (salivating to the bell) can be deconditioned by many trials of not pairing the US (food) with the CS (bell). Extinction can also be plotted on a learning curve. Edward Thorndike used instrumental conditioning to train cats to use a lever in a box to get out and receive food. Instrumental conditioning is the idea that an animal can be taught to use an instrument to avoid negative consequences or gain positive consequences. The positive consequence in this case was the food and the instrument was the lever in the box. From these experiment his came up with the Law of Effect that stated that a behavior would decrease if followed by a negative consequence and and behavior would increase if followed by a positive consequence. The negative consequence for the cats was if they tried a certain lever and it did not open they would not get the food. This would lead the cats to try a different lever until the positive consequence (receiving of the food) occurred. This experiment was very much trial and error but the time required for the cats to escape did decrease with the number of trials. Remember up until now the model was S-R (stimulus-response). Thorndike proposed the model S-R-R (stimulus-response-reinforcement). Behaviorists Behaviorists rejected the idea of studying the unconscious mind because there was no objective way to study it. They agreed that unconscious processes happened in the mind but wanted psychology to become a “hard science” with data. The only studied the observable S-R model. John Watson studied fear conditioning with the baby Little Albert. Little Albert was allowed to play with a white rat and after some time Watson would make a loud sound behind Albert when he touched the rat. After many trials Albert would cry every time he saw the white rat or a white object. The US was the white rat, the CS was the loud sound, and the CR was Albert crying when he saw the white rat or white object. The fear conditioning was generalized to white objects. Watson also removed rats’ sensory organs and found that they can complete the maze they learned earlier without any sensory stimuli. B.F Skinner elaborated on the ideas of Thorndike and his instrumental conditioning. He developed the “Skinner box” and found that intermittent reinforcement can produce stronger behavioral responses than reinforcement every time. He found this out when he ran out of rat food one day and decided to reinforce the rats with food only after multiple correct responses. Developed a bomb that was never used in WWII that had pigeons inside guiding the correct path of the bomb. He was a radical behaviorist that believed everything was a stimulus and response reaction and free will was nothing more than an allusion of the mind. Edward Tolman was a neo behaviorist in that he did not believe just in the S-R reaction but said that we have goals and intentions that drive our responses as well as the stimulus. He demonstrated his idea of latent learning, learning without a stimulus or consequence guiding it, by letting rats explore a maze without food in it. The next day the rats that were allowed to explore the maze found the food faster than the rats that were not allowed to explore the maze. He theorized that the rats that were allowed to explore the maze had developed a cognitive map that was reused the next day to find the food. The Cognitive Revolution W.K Estes used the “Skinner box” to study conditioned emotional response in rats. His idea for a conditioned emotional response came about while watching people react during the air strikes in Britain during WWII. The people would be going about their business and when the air strike alarms sounded they would stop what they were doing and look to the sky. Estes reproduced this response in rats training them to press a lever to receive food. Then he paired an electrical shock with the lighting of a bulb. So when the rats went to press the lever he would light the bulb and the rats would pause in wait of the shock. The conditioned emotional response was so salient that the rats stopped pushing the lever to receive food when the light bulb was on. Estes came up with random sampling theory which states that learning happens with an average of random samples or an average of multiple trials of stimulus-response training. For example, a rat might see a light and then get shocked but it does not associate the light with the shock until it has experienced this association in multiple contexts. This went against Hull’s theory of the simple stimulus-response model of learning where he predicted the association was made relatively quickly. He also began using mathematical models to explain psychological concepts and developed the subfield of mathematical psychology. Gordon Bower believed in learning by insight or the aha! moment. He pointed out that people come to the conclusion to a problem, such as trying to remember a name or number, within one trial. If a sample of people are tested on such a problem, get the answer in one trial and those trials are averaged then the plot is a learning curve. The problem with this is that the participants had an insight in a single trial but the learning curve makes it look like learning was a gradual process. George Miller applied information theory to psychology and found that prior knowledge is very important to how much information is taken away from a situation. Also did research on short term memory and coined the 7 plus or minus 2 term of short term memory storage. Neural Network Models Herbert Simon compared the human memory to computer memory. His model of memory had nodes represent symbols and the process of forming memory was the way the nodes were manipulated. The problem with this symbol manipulation model is that every piece of information is a node and it would be impossible to have one neuron represent only one piece of information. David Rumelhart came up with a more feasible connectionist model that claims that nodes work together to create a representation. Specific nodes do not store specific pieces of information but the connection of nodes creates the representation of information.


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