Theories of Conditioning

Pavlov’s Stimulus Substitution Theory The Conditioned Stimulus (CS) acts as a substitute for the Unconditioned Stimulus (UCS). A connection forms in the brain between the Conditioned Stimulus and the Unconditioned Stimulus activation sites. When the Conditioned Stimulus is activated alone, following acquisition, it will automatically activate the Unconditioned Stimulus site in the brain. Therefore, the Conditioned Response should be most identical to the Unconditioned Response (because the connection between UCS and UCR in the brain is hardwired.) Evidence that Support the Stimulus Substitution Hypothesis: Jenkins & Moore Study > one group of pigeons has CS (light) UCS (grain). It is showed that pigeons are trying to “eat” the lit key (open beak and closed eyes) when they pecked. > second group had CS (light) UCS (water) and showed that the pigeons is trying to “drink” the lit key (closed beak and open eyes) when they pecked. Evidence against Stimulus Substitution Hypothesis Any study in which the elicited CR is different from the UCS. e.g. when a light is paired with food, the rats will rear to the light (CR) but the UCR is approach to the food dispenser. Preparatory Response Theory What is learned during Pavlovian Conditioning is a response that prepares the organism for the appearance of the UCS. The response need not be identical to the UCR, and may, under certain circumstances involve novel forms of behavior that are antagonistic to the UCR. Kimble’s Preparatory Model His theory proposed that the CR is a response that serves to prepare the organism for the upcoming UCS. e.g. following acquisition of CR’s in eyeblink conditioning, the CR eyeblink may actually prepare the person for the upcoming airpuff such that the eye would be partially closed when the airpuff occurs.

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