Learning is the adaptive process through which experience modifies pre-existing behavior and
understanding. Learning plays a central role in the development of most aspects of human
behavior. Humans and other animals learn primarily by experiencing events, observing
relationships between those events, and noting consistencies in the world around them.0
Psychological research on learning has been guided by three questions:0
Which events and relationships do people learn about?
What circumstances determine whether and how people learn?
Is learning a slow process requiring lots of practice, or does it involve sudden flashes of
LEARNING ABOUT STIMULI0
People appear to be genetically tuned to attend to and orient toward certain kinds of events
such as loud sounds, special tastes, or pain. Learning that involves exposure to a single
stimulus is referred to as
stimuli attract attention.
stimuli decrease our responsiveness; we
adapt to such stimuli. This adaptation is a simple form of learning called
After a response to a stimulus is habituated,
, reappearance of the
original response, occurs if the stimulus changes.
is an increase in responsiveness to a stimulus. For example, people and
animals show exaggerated responses to unexpected, potentially threatening sights or
sounds, especially when aroused.
According to Solomon’s
opponent process theory
, new stimulus events, especially
those that arouse strong emotions, disrupt the person’s physical equilibrium. This
disruption triggers an opposite (opponent) response (process) that eventually restores
equilibrium. If the event occurs repeatedly, the opponent process becomes stronger and
eventually suppresses the initial reaction to the stimulus, creating habituation. . .
The pleasurable reaction to a particular dose of a drug begins to decrease with
repeated doses. This habituation occurs because the initial pleasurable reaction to
the drug is eventually followed by an unpleasant, opposing reaction that
counteracts the drug’s primary effects. The opposing reaction becomes quicker
and stronger the longer the drug is taken. So, as drug users become habituated,
they have to take higher doses of the drug to achieve the same “high.”
believe that this explains the development of drug tolerance and addiction.
It may also explain some accidental drug overdoses. If the unpleasant reaction
that counteracts a drug’s initial effects becomes linked to environmental stimuli
that are regularly present when the drug is taken, those stimuli may become
capable of triggering the counteracting process by themselves, allowing tolerance
of larger doses. If the drug is taken in a new environment, the counteracting
process might be diminished, leading to a stronger drug reaction. This involves
between environment stimuli and certain responses.
III0. CLASSICAL CONDITIONING: LEARNING SIGNALS AND ASSOCIATIONS0