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Learning Week 2 Notes

by: Elizabeth Heitmann

Learning Week 2 Notes Psyc 4450

Elizabeth Heitmann

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these notes cover the classes during the week of February 1.
Christopher L. Hubbell
Class Notes
learning psychology psych
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This 9 page Class Notes was uploaded by Elizabeth Heitmann on Tuesday February 9, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Psyc 4450 at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute taught by Christopher L. Hubbell in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 29 views. For similar materials see Learning in Psychlogy at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.


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Date Created: 02/09/16
Week of February 1 A Brief History of Learning continued III. Biological Roots a. Reflexes Evolution and Early Comparative Psychologists i. Descartes convinced everyone that the reflex action was important in behavior ii. Biologists were making strides in understanding reflexes and how they worked 1. Discovered they functioned with electricity, not hydraulics like Descartes thought 2. They were able to start estimating the speed of transmission iii. Ivan Mikhaylovich Seganov (1829-1905) 1. Father of Russian physiology 2. 1863: published Reflexes of the Brain a. All conscious and unconscious acts are reflexes i. Reflexes: inevitable reaction of an organism to an external pressure ii. Incoming information causes conscious and unconscious acts, making both types of acts reflexes iii. Spinal cord controls reflexes not the brain iv. Inhibition: the conscious act of preventing certain reflexes from taking place v. Allowed scientists to look at brain activity from a materialistic point of view iv. Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882) 1. Before Darwin, biologists believed in essentialism a. Essentialism: each living thing belongs to its own individual, unchanging class with its own distinct characteristics. Each class was completely unrelated to other classes. 2. Darwin’s voyage on the HMS Beagle (1831-1836) a. Collected many specimens from all over the world b. Studied them upon return 3. 1859: published On the Origin of Species a. Presented “theory” of evolution i. Natural Selection: Idea that nature acts on living things to select for certain traits in a species that makes it better able to survive. b. 3 components of evolution through natural selection i. Variation: in a species, individuals possess different traits from each other ii. Selection: provides direction. Certain levels of an attribute provide an advantage to the individual that allows it to live long enough to reproduce iii. Retention: whether or not a trait possess enough of an advantage to be passed on to subsequent generations c. This idea changed how people saw life and how people saw the relationship between animals and humans 4. 1871 book suggested that the mind had also evolved along with the body v. Early Comparative Psychologists 1. Considered the idea that the mind had evolved 2. George John Romanes (1848-1894) a. Evolutionary biologist b. Founder of comparative psychology c. Thought that evolution occurred in a more linear fashion instead of a branching fashion d. Thought there was a parallel between the mental processes of humans and animals e. 1882: Animal Intelligence i. Studied the behavior of animals in the context of evolution ii. Believed animals could show intelligence iii. The smarter the animal was, the higher on the evolutionary scale it was iv. Thought that language appeared as a result of natural selection f. 1893: Mental Evolution in Animals i. Animal instinct and intelligence attributed to evolution ii. Idea that the desire to perform a learned skill could be passed on to the next generation g. Considered very liberal 3. C. Lloyd Morgan a. Studied dog behavior b. Rejected idea that animals were intelligent c. Determined that the remarkable things animals do are built up slowly from laborious and simple processes d. Morgan’s canon (law of parsimony) i. Fundamental precept of comparative psychology ii. In no case is an animal activity to be interpreted by higher psychological processes if it can be interpreted by lower psychological processes vi. Associative learning: learning that one event closely follows another event b. The Rise of the Conditioning Experiment i. Ivan Petrovich Pavlov ( 1849-1936) 1. Russian physiologist who studied digestion 2. Conditioned reflex: a reflex that is learned after being introduced to a situation a. His experiment determined that the conditioned reflex began in the cerebral cortex 3. Idea that conditioning is a form of learning 4. 1905: established that any external stimulus coordinated in time, an external agent could become a conditioned signal for a conditioned reflex a. Assumed that the presentation of a stimulus event results in activity within a certain area of the brain b. Assumed that the presentation of a stimulus agent results in activity in another area of the brain c. These brain activities could become associated causing the stimulus to activate the part of the brain where the event is processed Bell Food d. Learning is a strengthening of neural connections ii. Classical Conditioning 1. Classical conditioning: The procedure in which an initially neutral stimulus is repeatedly paired with an unconditional stimulus. The result is that the conditional stimulus begins to elicit a conditional response. 2. 2 types of stimuli and responses a. An unconditional stimulus (US) will elicit an unconditional response (UR) b. A conditional stimulus (CS) will a conditional response (CR) c. A CS paired with a US (CS-US) many times will cause a CS to produce a CR (CSCR) 3. Second order conditioning vs. sensory preconditioning Second order conditioning Sensory preconditioning 1. CS 1US until CS 1 CR 1. CS2-CS 1any times 2. CS 2CS 1any times 2. CS1-US until CS1 CR 3. Sometimes CS  2R 3. Sometimes CS  2R iii. Edward Lee “Ted” Thorndike (1874-1949) 1. Theory of connectionism 2. Wrote a book on animal intelligence 3. Was the first to use animals in a psychology experiment 4. Puzzle boxes a. A small box with a lever on the inside that controlled the door b. Placed cats inside and measured how long it took the cat to escape c. Also allowed cat to observe other cats escaping and demonstrated how to use lever to escape i. Animals can’t learn through observation d. Animals don’t use insight to learn, so they don’t have rational thought e. Connections between motions the cat used and escape allowed for faster escape i. Called stamping in 5. Represented a general law of behavior called the Law of Effect iv. Reinforcement and Punishment 1. Reinforcement: increase in the probability of a response due to the presentation of a reinforcer following that response. R S APPwhere app mean appetitive a. Reinforcer: an event that increase the probability of a response were presented after that response 2. Punishment: a decrease in the probability of a response due to the presentation of a punisher after that response. AV RS where AV means adversive a. Punisher: an event that decreases the probability of a response when presented after that response. 3. This is known as instrumental or operant conditioning IV. The Science of Learning and Behavior a. John Broadus Watson (1879-1958) i. Established behaviorism ii. Studied the amount of myelin in the brains of rats at different ages and studied how well they learned iii. 1908: became professor at Johns Hopkins iv. 1913: wrote an article on behavior that became viewed as psychologist manifesto 1. Rejects study of the consciousness 2. States that introspection is faulty 3. Believes that psychologists should focus on studying behavior v. 1920: asked to leave Johns Hopkins vi. Little Albert experiment 1. Showed how classical conditioning could be used to instill the fear of a white rat in a little boy 2. Presented the rat to the boy and there was no reaction 3. Presented rat again but started bang an iron rod to condition fear 4. Never deconditioned the boy 5. Created the association between conditioning in emotional disorders that started with panic or trauma b. Burrhus Frederic Skinner (1904-1990) i. Developed radical behaviorism 1. Sought to understand behavior as a function of an environmental history of reinforcement ii. Founded the school of thought called Experimental Analysis of Behavior iii. Operant chamber (Skinner Box) 1. Used this to measure the rate of response of an animal a. Rate of response: how many times a minute does a response occur and what changes can occur that change the rate of response 2. Used a cumulative recorder to measure how many times an animal responds a. Graphically recorded response times c. Edward Chance Tolman (1886-1959) i. Demonstrated that animals could learn facts and use them ii. Non-reinforcement or stimulus-stimulus 1. Learn spatial relationships iii. Latent learning 1. Animals could learn connections between stimuli and did not need any explicit biologically significant event to make learning occur iv. Operational behaviorism v. Intervening variable 1. An environmental stimulus leads to a behavior due to some other unseen variable 2. SXR d. Clark Leonard Hall (1884-1952) i. Drive theory 1. Drive: motivations caused by biological needs that are influenced by deprivation 2. Habit: learning influenced by the number of times a behavior is reinforced 3. Organisms suffer deprivation  deprivation creates needneeds activate drivesdrives activate behaviorbehavior is goal directedachieving goal as survival value 4. Drive can be nonspecific a. Any behavior that reduces drive will be repeated 5. Multiple stimuli can cause one response ii. Human behavior is a result of constant interaction with the environment iii. Objective behaviorism 1. never considered consciousness e. Donald Olding Hebb i. Father of neuropsychology and neural pathways ii. Brought together two realms of human perception by stating that the human mind in the result of the body iii. Combined data about the body and the mind iv. Hebbian Theory: theory that combined data about the mind and body in order to predict functions of the brain 1. Hebbian learning: any models that follow Hebbian theory 2. Hebb’s Law: neurons that fire together wire together a. Called cell assemblies, which dictated brains response to stimuli V. Overview of Associative Learning a. Associative learning = E E 1 wh2re E and 1 are s2imulus events occurring roughly at the same time in the same place b. Classical and operant conditioning are both forms of associative learning that are distinguished by procedures Classical conditioning: SS* Operant conditioning: RS* Where: S= stimulus event R= response event S*= a meaningful or important stimulus event Operant conditioning can be broken down into: Reinforcement: R S APP AV Punishment: R S Where: S AP=a rewarding stimulus S =an aversive punishment c. Learning about stimuli and behavior i. Classical conditioning: a situation in which animals learn to associate stimuli in its environment 1. Somtimes called stimulus learning 2. SS* learning 3. Response has no effect on S* ii. Operant conditioning: a situation in which animals learn about the relations between behaviors and their consequences 1. Sometimes called response learning 2. RS* learning 3. Response produces S* iii. Easier to study both separately but they work together in nature 1. Either can happen when an animal encounters a biologically significant event d. Relations between S,R, and S* i. Any time a biologically significant event (S*) occurs, there is an opportunity to associate it with both behavior(R) and stimuli(S) present ii. Stimuli can signal an association between a response and a significant event 1. S(RS*) 2. In this situation S is called the occasion setter 3. Known as controlled processing iii. A direct association between stimuli an response may form causing the stimuli to elicit a response reflexively and leads to a significant event 1. SRS* 2. Becomes habitual 3. Called automatic processing e. Associations in the brain i. Neural basis of behavior 1. Mechanism used to carry messages is electrical 2. 10 billion neurons in the brain 3. As many as 50,000 inputs to a cell 4. Neuron 5. Reflexive connection a. Sensory neuron sends message to inter-neuron in gray matter b. Inter-neuron passes messages to motor neuron, which triggers reflex ii. Neural basis of learning 1. Learning is the strengthening of connections a. Pavlov said it first, Hebb refined it b. Strengthening can mean increasing neurotransmiters, adding more receptors or both c. Result is the increased probability of the postsynaptic neuron firing 2. Strengthening connections determines how electrical impulses are routed through the brain f. Is associative learning simple? i. Associative learning is the activation of brain centers due to events and Learning involves the formation of connections between them ii. Cognitive learning theorists reject this theory 1. Believe that learning involves more complex thought processes not simple associations 2. Pavlovian conditioning involves more complex processes such as attention and memory iii. Wolfgang Kohler (1887-1967) 1. Original Gestalt theorist a. Gestalt theory: the nature of the parts determines the whole or the parts are secondary to the whole i. as we process sensory stimuli we are aware of a configuration or overall pattern which is grasped as a whole b. emphasized studying the whole to discover the natural parts c. Emerged as a response to behaviorists 2. Insight follows from the characteristics of objects under considerations a. Suggested learning could be a sudden comprehension 3. Trial and error vs. insight learning a. Thorndike held prevailing view of animal learning i. Concluded that learning is a trial and error process which is dependent on rewards and punishments b. Kohler disagreed i. Thought cat sin Thorndike’s puzzle boxes took a long time to escape because they couldn’t see how their response opened box 1. Didn’t have opportunity to use insight ii. Chimps 1. Would place food just out of reach of chimp 2. Chimp used sticks or stacked boxes to obtain food iii. 3 properties of insight learning 1. Based on the animal perceiving the solution to the problem 2. Not dependent on rewards 3. Once problem is solved, it is easier to solve a similar problem iv. Harry Frederick Harlow (1905-1981) 1. Best known for maternal-separation and social isolation experiments on rhesus monkeys 2. Other contribution was alternative to insight learning a. When an animal has no prior experience with a problem they develop learning sets (learning how to learn) b. Trained monkeys to discriminate between two objects by placing a reward (S+) under one and nothing (S-) under the other c. Monkeys were given 6 trials with each pair of objects d. Experienced only a small increase in learning after the first 8 sets i. Don’t have time to associate S+ object and reinforcement e. The middle trials showed better improvement with monkeys being almost perfect and the last trials the monkeys had little error f. Used the abstract rule: win  stay; loseshift i. Winning would be picking up S+ object and losing would be picking up the S- object g. Monkeys developed insight through instrumental discrimination learning 3. Harlow learned from the monkeys that: a. They used abstract rules to guide behavior b. Abstract rules served as a link between simple associative learning and more complex metal thinking


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