2 Module 20: Biology, Cognition, and Learning No animation.
3 Topics you can learn with the help of your body, thinking, and observation Biological constraints on conditioningCognitive processes in conditioningLearning by Observation, including Mirroring and ImitationProsocial and Antisocial Effects of Observational Learning
4 Summary of factors affecting learning No animation.
5 Biological Influences on Conditioning Classical ConditioningJohn Garcia and others found it was easier to learn associations that make sense for survival. Examples:Food aversions can be acquired even if the UR (nausea) does NOT immediately follow the NS. The body associates nausea with whatever food was recently eaten.Males in one study were more likely to see a pictured woman as attractive if the picture had a red border.Click to reveal bullets.
6 Biological Constraints on Conditioning Operant ConditioningCan a monkey be trained to peck with its nose? No, but a pigeon can.Can a pigeon be trained to dive underwater? No, but a dolphin can.Operant conditioning encounters biological tendencies and limits that are difficult to override.What can we most easily train a dog to do based on natural tendencies?detecting scents?climbing and balancing?putting on clothes?Click to reveal bullets.Answer to the question on the slide: animals can be trained to do actions which are less biologically related to survival and mating, but it’s difficult, and behaviors tend to drift toward biologically natural behaviors.
7 In classical conditioning Cognitive Processes in ConditioningIn classical conditioningIn operant conditioningWhen the dog salivates at the bell, it may be due to cognition (learning to predict, even expect, the food).Knowing that our reactions such as food aversion are caused by conditioning gives us the option of mentally breaking the association.In fixed-interval reinforcement, animals do more target behaviors/ responses around the time that the reward is more likely, as if expecting the reward.Expectation as a cognitive skill is even more evident in the ability of humans to respond to delayed reinforcers such as a paycheck.Click to reveal all bullets.Psychotherapy relies on these cognitive processes. When dealing with panic disorder with agoraphobia, a client may not even agree to exposure therapy until they cognitively accept that a panic attack in a store did not mean that there was an actual danger in the store, even though they now have a conditioned fear of the store. This insight can begin to break the association between the store and danger; exposure therapy then finishes the job.
8 Latent LearningRats appear to form cognitive maps. They can learn a maze just by wandering, with no cheese to reinforce their learning.Evidence of these maps is revealed once the cheese is placed somewhere in the maze. After only a few trials, these rats quickly catch up in maze-solving to rats who were rewarded with cheese all along.Latent learning refers to skills or knowledge gained from experience, but not apparent in behavior until rewards are given.Click to reveal bullets.
9 Learning, Rewards, and Motivation Intrinsic motivation refers to the desire to perform a behavior well for its own sake. The reward is internalized as a feeling of satisfaction.Extrinsic motivation refers to doing a behavior to receive rewards from others.Intrinsic motivation can sometimes be reduced by external rewards, and can be prevented by using continuous reinforcement.One principle for maintaining behavior is to use as few rewards as possible, and fade the rewards over time.Click to reveal bullets.Answer to the question on the slide: the person might lose intrinsic motivation, and might not reliably do the behavior well.What might happen if we begin to reward a behavior someone was already doing and enjoying?
10 Learning by Observation Can we, like the rats exploring the maze with no reward, learn new behaviors and skills without a direct experience of conditioning?Yes, and one of the ways we do so is by observational learning: watching what happens when other people do a behavior and learning from their experience.Skills required: mirroring, being able to picture ourselves doing the same action, and cognition, noticing consequences and associations.Observational Learning ProcessesClick to reveal bullets.ModelingThe behavior of others serves as a model, an example of how to respond to a situation; we may try this model regardless of reinforcement.Vicarious ConditioningVicarious: experienced indirectly, through othersVicarious reinforcement and punishment means our choices are affected as we see others get consequences for their behaviors.
11 Albert Bandura’s Bobo Doll Experiment (1961) Kids saw adults punching an inflated doll while narrating their aggressive behaviors such as “kick him.”These kids were then put in a toy-deprived situation… and acted out the same behaviors they had seen.Click to reveal bullets and start animation of pictures from left to right.Instructor: point out to students that in each of the three pairs of pictures, the child is doing a behavior shown by the adult above. Maybe that’s selective editing and a coincidence…but the kids echoed the adult’s words also.Students might consider a critical thinking question that some have asked in recent years: were the children really acting out aggression, or just bored? Actually, it doesn’t matter; the adults were not narrating anger, just narrating their actions. Even if the motivation is boredom, the kids were still imitating the adults’ behaviors.
12 Mirroring in the BrainWhen we watch others doing or feeling something, neurons fire in patterns that would fire if we were doing the action or having the feeling ourselves.These neurons are referred to as mirror neurons, and they fire only to reflect the actions or feelings of others.Click to reveal bullets.Instructor: in this image, the brain of the person empathizing/mirroring the feelings of another are firing in some of the same areas as the person experiencing pain. Notice that the areas are more closely related to the emotional anguish than the physical sensations (the sensory strip is not firing in the empathizer).This mirroring can be involuntary, leading to the emotional “contagion” of moods and attitudes spreading from one person to another.
13 From Mirroring to Imitation Humans are prone to spontaneous imitation of both behaviors and emotions (“emotional contagion”).This includes even overimitating, that is, copying adult behaviors that have no function and no reward.Children with autism are less likely to cognitively “mirror,” and less likely to follow someone else’s gaze as a neurotypical toddler (left) is doing below.Click to reveal bullets.Instructor: perhaps you can nudge students to speculate why humans are more likely to have such a strong biological tendency to spontaneously have mirror neurons fire, and to have contagious emotions and behaviors.One clue might be by seeing what is lost for children with autism who do not experience contagious yawning or have mirror neurons fire when seeing others experience actions and feelings. These children miss out on cognitive practice/observational learning of social skills, and have difficulty making social-emotional connections with others. They are able to feel such a connection, typically with family and partners, but have more difficulty establishing such connections without the quick “ESP” of neuronal mirroring.
14 Prosocial Effects of Observational Learning Prosocial behavior refers to actions which benefit others, contribute value to groups, and follow moral codes and social norms.Parents try to teach this behavior through lectures, but it may be taught best through modeling… especially if kids can see the benefits of the behavior to oneself or others.Click to reveal bullets.
15 Antisocial Effects of Observational Learning What happens when we learn from models who demonstrate antisocial behavior, actions that are harmful to individuals and society?Children who witness violence in their homes, but are not physically harmed themselves, may hate violence but still may become violent more often than the average child.Perhaps this is a result of “the Bobo doll effect”? Under stress, we do what has been modeled for us.Click to reveal bullets.
16 Media Models of Violence Do we learn antisocial behavior such as violence from indirect observations of others in the media?Click to reveal bottom bar.Research shows that viewing media violence leads to increased aggression (fights) and reduced prosocial behavior (such as helping an injured person).This violence-viewing effect might be explained by imitation, and also by desensitization toward pain in others.
17 Epilogue: Learning about Learning From Pavlov and Watson to Skinner and Bandura, scientists have added to our understand of how we develop our associations, habits, our reactions and our patterns of behavior.Crucial to their success in learning how learning works: curiosity, and a willingness to study systematically , experimenting under controlled conditions, developing and testing ideas.Click to reveal bullets.