By Stephen Walker
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Extra info for Animal Learning: An Introduction
Pavlov’s constant reference to analysis and synthesis may merely be a consequence of the fact that as a young man his favourite author was Herbert Spencer, who also used these terms frequently, but the experimental facts of discrimination learning, no less now than then, require some roughly similar theoretical attempt to account for attention and pattern recognition (Sutherland and Mackintosh, 1971; Sutherland, 1960). A more detailed account of Pavlov’s experiments in these areas will be given in later chapters, with further discussion of this theoretical point, but for present purposes it is important to note that Pavlov carefully distinguished ‘elementary’ analysis and synthesis from ‘higher’ types: the former being associated with the capacities of the sense organs themselves, as with absolute thresholds for pitch or visual acuity, and the latter being what he took to be central perceptual processes — for instance the integration of information of both ears to compute localization of sound sources.
42—4) had been obtained in Aplysia, but that three others were absent: greater habituation with repeated periods of habituation and recovery(3); generalization of habituation to a stimulus in another part of the receptive field (7); and delayed recovery of the response when the habituation series is continued after the animal has stopped responding (6). Given the very specific nature of the neural circuits involved, and the limited body area which produces Aplysia’s withdrawal reflex, it seems inevitable that generalization will be limited: the other two missing characteristics suggest that habituation in Aplysia is only a short-term phenomenon, and does not include the longer-term mechanisms that obtain in even the spinal cords of vertebrates.
47 The incremental series of stimuli results in pronounced relative response habituation at low stimulus intensities, and very little sensitization which may decay considerably within each block of trials. Both habituation and sensitization (including decay of sensitization) generalize substantially to each new series of stimuli. The result is a summation of the habituation occurring within all blocks of trials. (Groves and Thompson, 1970, p. 442) This is less than wholly convincing as a theory, but it is instructive that such complicated results can be obtained with the habituation of a spinal reflex.
Animal Learning: An Introduction by Stephen Walker