Habituation and Respondent Learning

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Information about Habituation and Respondent Learning

Published on August 28, 2007

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Habituation and Respondent Learning:  Habituation and Respondent Learning Dr. Kelley Kline FSU-PC Developmental Psychology What is learning?:  What is learning? Learning—a relatively permanent change in behavior brought about by experience or knowledge. Three components of learning:  Three components of learning A. Learning is a change in the behavior-environment relationship. Behavior changes in relation to other events in the world. B. The change is 'relatively' permanent. So changes may last longer than a few moments, but not necessarily a lifetime. Hence, we use percentage of time things change to describe learning that has taken place. C. Learning is due to experience with the environment. Physical growth and maturation do cause changes in development that we do not infer are due to 'learning' per se. What role does learning play in human development?:  What role does learning play in human development? Learning is a process in development!!! We are hard-wired to acquire knowledge and skills through our interactions with the environment. This is the biology. Learning serves as the mechanism by which we acquire information and act on our environment. Types of learning:  Types of learning 1. Classical conditioning– referred to here as reflexive or respondent learning. Here reflexive actions are strengthened in relation to stimuli from the environment. 2. Operant conditioning- also called Instrumental conditioning, in which largely volitional behaviors are strengthened through reinforcers. I. Habituation:  I. Habituation A basic form of respondent learning, in which there is a decrease in the strength of a given action after repeated presentation of a stimulus that elicits the response. E.g., Imagine you are on vacation in October, staying in an idyllic little cottage near a lake. Its largely quite with the exception of the sounds of birds and crickets. However, you are advised that it is duck hunting season and you may hear gun shots go off. The first gun shot scares you half to death andamp; you are sure you are on the movie set of a teen slasher flick. However, after hearing several gunshot sounds, by the 3rd day, you barely observe the gunshots as you andamp; your family share a nice picnic lunch. Components of Habituation:  Components of Habituation 1. In principle, any elicited response can habituate, but in practice it most often occurs to autonomic physiological responses. E.g., startle responses, sympathetic arousal, orienting response, etc. Habituation may explain some of our thrill-seeking behaviors.:  Habituation may explain some of our thrill-seeking behaviors. How many people here, enjoy roller coaster rides, horror movies, andamp; the like??? As a society, we keep 'upping the ante' on the thrills we seek from rides, movies, etc., possibly because we habituate to the ones we have already experienced. For example, we release dopamine each time we experience something pleasurable. This is the rush we feel when we fall in love, ride a coaster, or see a new scary horror movie. However, with time, less dopamine is released during these activities andamp; we look for new ways to get the same dopamine (feeling) release. Habituation is also a positive process in treating some forms of psychopathology.:  Habituation is also a positive process in treating some forms of psychopathology. Phobias, a type of anxiety disorder, involves the irrational fear of an object, event, or situation.(e.g., fear of snakes, spiders, public speaking). Flooding therapy—which involves full blown exposure to the feared stimulus, relies on the principle that our sympathetic nervous system will habituate over time, thereby allowing us to 'experience' less autonomic arousal to the feared stimulus. Thus, we behaviorally treat the disorder using the principle of habituation. 2. Habituation is Stimulus specific:  2. Habituation is Stimulus specific If we habituate to gunfire shots, we should still show a startle response to a door slam. An infant that stops turning its head towards a speaker playing the same word (ball), should moves its head when a new word is presented. Since we are constantly exposed to a variety of stimuli in our environments, some of these dangerous, others benign. We need to distinguish which stimuli are dangerous from others that are insignificant. Being continually startled or distracted by the same stimulus would deplete our energy and make it difficult for us to attend to the 'important' stimuli in our environments. Evidence that habituation is important for normal development::  Evidence that habituation is important for normal development: Rate of habituation in babies is correlated with mental abilities in later development. Laucht, Esser, andamp; Schmidt (1994) reported that infants who displayed faster habituation to repetitive stimuli at 3 months of age, tended to score slightly higher on IQ tests when they were almost 5 years old. Other evidence to support significance of habituation in development comes from the work of Hollister, Mednick, Brennan, andamp; Cannon (1994) in which adolescents with slow habituation rates were at a higher risk for developing schizophrenia later in adulthood. Classic studies on infant Habituation::  Classic studies on infant Habituation: Bronstein andamp; Petrova (1967) reported that infant sucking habituated to repeated presentations of several auditory stimuli (whistle, harmonica) in neonates andamp; older infants. Bridger (1961) showed habituated accelerated heart rate andamp; the startle response to repetitive auditory stimuli in neonates. Adubato (1986) found habituated fetal movements in response to repetitive vibratory stimuli applied to the abdomens of pregnant women between 28 and 37 weeks. Why is habituation important in development?:  Why is habituation important in development? 1. Habituation is an early form of learning that is adaptive for children to acquire for normal development. We need to learn to selectively attend to information that is important and to ignore information that isn’t. 2. Habituation serves as a useful paradigm for understanding early infant development. II. Respondent Learning-Classical conditioning:  II. Respondent Learning-Classical conditioning A more sophisticated form of learning, respondent learning, involves stimulus-response relations with reflexive stimuli. Here, reflexive responses (salivation, eye blink, startle, hunger pangs, sweating, etc.) are elicited in response to stimuli that previously produced no influence on such events. General terms—overview:  General terms—overview Unconditioned stimulus (UCS)—stimulus that normally will elicit a reflexive response (air puff normally elicits an eye blink). Unconditioned response (UCR)—reflexive response that normally occurs (startle in response to loud noise). Conditioned Stimulus (CS)-previously neutral stimulus that by being repeatedly paired with a UCS, elicits a CR. Conditioned Response (CR)-the conditioned reflexive response. Note: CR is usually weaker than UCR. Non-human studies of respondent conditioning::  Non-human studies of respondent conditioning: Does the name Pavlov ring a bell???? Pavlov’s best known for discovering classical conditioning. He was a Russian physiologist interested in gastric responses in dogs. Classical conditioning finding was serendipitous!!!!! Here’s the basic paradigm::  Here’s the basic paradigm: Pavlov’s classic dog salivation study Step 1: Meat Powder (UCS)---------Salivation (UCR) Step 2: Bell (Neutral stimulus) -------- ---Meat Powder (UCS)--Salivation (UCR) (pair bell with meat) Step 3: Bell (CS)--------------------Salivation (CR) Infant Studies of Respondent Learning::  Infant Studies of Respondent Learning: The best documented work on infant respondent learning comes from the classic work of Watson and Raynor (1920). These researchers conditioned emotional responses in an 11-month old infant ('Little Albert'). As with most infants, Albert was curious about a white rat. The infant crawled over to the rat and played with it. On subsequent trials, Watson andamp; Raynor, presented a loud obnoxious noise (UCS) produced by striking a metal rod with a hammer whenever 'Albert' showed an interest in the white furry rat (CS). Watson & Rayner (1920):  Watson andamp; Rayner (1920) Albert produced a reflexive startle response (including crying) with each pairing of the noise and the rat. Following several trials of this experiment, 'Albert' recoiled and cried in response to the mere sight of a white rat. Learning generalized to other white furry objects (Santa’s beard, fur coat, cat, cotton balls, etc.). Hence, Watson andamp; Raynor successfully conditioned fear responses in the little infant. Other infant studies:  Other infant studies Lipsitt andamp; Kaye (1963) paired the presentation of a tone with the insertion of a nipple in the mouths of newborns three or four days old. Eventually, the tone itself elicited sucking. Spelt (1948) paired a loud clapper (UCS) with vibrotactile stimuli (NS) in fetuses between 7 andamp; 9 months gestation. Eventually, the vibrotactile stimuli alone elicited fetal movements. Conditions necessary for respondent learning::  Conditions necessary for respondent learning: 1. The initial S-R relation must be unlearned and automatic (reflexive). 2. The UCS must be paired with the NS. 3. Presentations of the CS alone must elicit the response. 4. The CR must not be the product of sensitization (presenting UCS alone may get responding). Other terms::  Other terms: Stimulus generalization-When conditioning is established, CR may be elicited by similar stimuli. Stimulus Discrimination—Lack of conditioning to other stimuli. In Watson andamp; Raynor’s study, the CR was not elicited in response to wooden blocks. Extinction-:  Extinction- If CS is never again paired with UCS, then CS no longer elicits the CR. Thus, the CR is extinguished. Spontaneous recovery—CS may occasionally elicit the CR on new sessions, but only for a short number of responses.

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