Classical Conditioning

Topics: Classical conditioning, Ivan Pavlov, Behaviorism Pages: 5 (1669 words) Published: October 3, 2011
Classical Conditioning
Over the last 100 years classical conditioning evolved from a simple transfer of one stimuli to another to more complex studies of conditioning. Researchers still use classical conditioning today as a method used to study associative learning (Terry, 2009). Classical conditioning has several levels: Behaviorally - is learning of a new response, cognitively - is to gain knowledge between the stimuli’s relationships, and neutrally - is the synaptic changes that motivate training. Four basic phenomena of conditioning are acquisition, extinction, generalization, and discrimination. Classical conditioning is important to the learning process that will come to light in this paper. Concept of Classical Conditioning/Factors affecting Classical Conditioning Classical conditioning was first studied by Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov. Classical conditioning is the “basic learning process that involves repeatedly pairing a neutral stimulus with a response-producing stimulus until the same response is elicited from the neutral stimulus” (Hockenbury & Hockenbury, 2006, p. 192). Classical conditioning is a four-step learning procedure involving reflexes: 1. Unconditioned Stimulus (US) - a stimulus that evokes an unconditioned response without any prior conditioning (no learning needed for the response to occur). 2. Unconditioned Response (UR) - an unlearned reaction/response to an unconditioned stimulus that occurs without prior conditioning. 3. Conditioned Stimulus (CS) - a previously neutral stimulus that has, through conditioning, acquired the capacity to evoke a conditioned response. 4. Conditioned Response (CR) - a learned reaction to a conditioned stimulus that occurs because of prior conditioning (1998-2011). Classical conditioning was portrayed by stereotypes as a simple form of reflex learning, which is untrue because classical conditioning learning is a flexible and adaptive form of associative learning. “The learning that occurs in classical conditioning can be validly described in several levels: behaviorally, learning of a new response; cognitively, as the acquisition of knowledge about the relationships between stimulus; or neutrally, as the pattern of synaptic changes that underlie conditioning” (Terry, 2009). Pavlov spent three decades study classical conditioning, and during that time he discovered many factors that could affect the strength of the conditioned response. One factor discovered was the more frequently the conditioned stimulus were paired, the association between the two became stronger. Another factor that affected the strength of the conditioned response was the timing, of stimulus presentations he believed that conditioned was most effective when the conditioned stimulus was presented immediately before the unconditioned stimulus. Later, Pavlov along with other researchers found that the “optimal time interval varies in different conditioning situations” (Hockenbury & Hockenbury, 2006, p. 194), but it is rarely more than a few seconds. Four Basic Phenomena of Classical Conditioning

The four basic phenomena of conditioning are acquisition, extinction, generalization, and discrimination. These phenomena help explain how conditioning occurs and how the classical conditioning works.

The results of conditioned stimulus (CS) – unconditioned stimulus (US) trials are the conditional response development considered to be acquisition. For other reasons the conditioned response may occur with controlled procedures. In conditioning groups controlled procedures are used as a way to build a baseline in the experiment. During experiments the CS and US are stimulated in different ways, sometimes they are randomly controlled using separate programs at different times giving different responses.

The extinction of a response is the decrease or disappearance altogether of already conditioned CS alone and without the US. This causes an extinction of the conditioning. Several...
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