Conditioning: Situation Versus Intermittent Stimulus

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Transaction Publishers - Psychology - 100 pages
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In laboratory research, the process of conditioning is traditionally initiated with a single intermittent stimulus (such as a tone or flash of light). This is true of both classical and instrumental research. Because of its role in evoking conditioned behavior, the use of an intermittent stimulus has become an indispensable part of laboratory research on conditioned behavior. The question arises whether the same scheme of conditioning may be applied to behaviors occurring in real life. In Conditioning, Wanda Wyrwicka analyzes evidence of the influence of situations on behavior in laboratory studies. She looks at cases in which the subject's reaction was dependent on complex situations rather than a single stimulus. Wyrwicka suggests that beyond external situations there exists internal factors located in the brain that consist of previous and present experiences that may influence behavior.

In Chapter 1, Wyrwicka summarizes Ivan Pavlov's concept of the conditioned reflex using intermittent stimuli. Chapter 2 deals with the mechanisms of motor conditioned behavior and the results of instrumental conditioning studies. Chapter 3 covers the phenomenon called "switching," which is the appearance of a conditioned reaction different than the original conditioned stimulus. In Chapter 4, Wyrwicka describes various studies in which situation becomes a potent factor in conditioned reactions. Chapter 5 describes research pertaining to defensive and alimentary behaviors. Chapter 6 analyzes three examples of complex conditioning: detour, feeding, and presleep behaviors. Chapters 7 and 8 focus on the functions of various internal organs, and the conditioning of electrical brain activity leading to inhibition of epileptic seizures. In her concluding chapter, Wyrwicka discusses theoretically the data mentioned previously.

Conditioning opens up rich possibilities for continued exploration. This revealing work will interest scientists specializing in behavioral sciences, psychologists, neuroscientists, educators, as well as students of biology.

Wanda Wyrwicka is a research neurobiologist at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine. Her books include The Mechanics of Conditioned Behavior, The Development of Food Preferences, Brain and Feeding Behavior, and from Transaction, Imitation in Human and Animal Behavior.


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Classical Conditioned Reflexes
Instrumental Conditioned Reflexes
The Phenomenon of Switching
Cases of Dependence of Conditioned Behavior on Situational Factors
Studies on the Role of the Situation and the Intermittent Stimulus in Conditioning
Examples of Complex Conditioned Reflexes to the Situation
Conditioning of the Activity of the Internal Organs
Therapeutic Role of the EEG Feedback in Epilepsy
Theoretical Comments
Summary and Conclusions
Name Index
Subject Index

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Page 6 - Conditioned reflexes are phenomena of common and widespread ^.occurrence : their establishment is an integral function in everyday life. We recognize them in ourselves and in other people or animals ' under such names as " education,"
Page 6 - We recognize them in ourselves and in other people or animals under such names as "education," "habits," and "training;" and all of these are really nothing more than the results of an establishment of new nervous connections during the post-natal existence of the organism. They are, in actual fact, links connecting definite extraneous stimuli with their definite responsive reactions. I believe that the recognition and the study of the conditioned reflex will throw open the door to a true physiological...
Page 5 - Descartes' idea of the nervous reflex. This is a genuine scientific conception, since it implies necessity. It may be summed up as follows : An external or internal stimulus falls on some one or other nervous receptor and gives rise to a nervous impulse ; this nervous impulse is transmitted along nerve fibres to the central nervous system, and here, on account of existing nervous connections, it gives rise to a fresh impulse which passes along outgoing nerve fibres to the active organ, where it excites...
Page 92 - Sterman, MB (1968). Sleep suppression after basal forebrain lesions in the cat. Science, 160: 1253-1255.

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