Animal Learning: An Introduction by Stephen Walker

By Stephen Walker

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This also suggests a difference between short-term and long-term mechanisms. ’ (5) ‘The weaker the stimulus, the more rapid and/or pronounced is habituation. ’ This is why, in Sokolov’s terms, habituation is confined to orienting responses — stronger stimuli giving rise to adaptive or defensive reflexes which do not habituate. Thus an animal may not habituate to the taste of its most valuable food, or the presence of its most dangerous predator. (6) ‘The effects of habituation training may proceed beyond the zero or asymptotic response level’ This means that after an animal has stopped responding altogether, continued exposure to the stimulus will mean that when the series is ended, recovery of the response will be delayed.

1 Pavlov’s method. Pavlov’s experiments were very carefully controlled. The dog was isolated from the experimenter, who delivered stimuli by means of automated devices, and recorded quantitative measures of response. After Asratyan (1953). In order to study psychological effects on digestive secretions more thoroughly, it was enough to measure the effects of selected artificial stimuli on volume of salivation, and this could be accomplished by means of a minor operation to lead salivation out through a tube in the dog’s cheek.

This is why, in Sokolov’s terms, habituation is confined to orienting responses — stronger stimuli giving rise to adaptive or defensive reflexes which do not habituate. Thus an animal may not habituate to the taste of its most valuable food, or the presence of its most dangerous predator. (6) ‘The effects of habituation training may proceed beyond the zero or asymptotic response level’ This means that after an animal has stopped responding altogether, continued exposure to the stimulus will mean that when the series is ended, recovery of the response will be delayed.

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