learning & motivation- lab report

learning & motivation- lab report - Stimulus...

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Stimulus Generalization and Stimulus Discrimination Brandi Donehoo and Susan Martinez November 9, 2010 PSY0405 10946 1050 Tuesdays 6-7:50pm
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Introduction Psychology as a science conquers a vast area of information from mental disorders to development to learning and motivation. Learning and motivation of animals and humans has a great deal of information through many laboratory studies from the start of the 20 th century up until today’s day and age. Two phenomena greatly studied in this field of psychology are discrimination and generalization. Discrimination is the ability to react to a specific stimulus and only that stimulus under the conditions in which it will be reinforced. For example, a teenager may only call their friends after nine o’clock each night because that is when their minutes are most readily available for talking to people outside of their cell phone network. Discrimination is characterized by two general types of stimuli known as S+ and S-. The S+ references the stimulus that signifies when reinforcement for the subject is available. The S- refers to the stimulus that signifies when reinforcement is not available. During many trials of an experiment, the subject learns to associate the availability of reinforcement only when the S+ signal is on in the environment, and only reacts and behaves at that point. On the other hand, when the S- signal is on in the environment, the subject knows that reinforcement is not available, and thus, does not do the desired behavior. Generalization is another phenomenon under learning and motivation thoroughly studied in psychology. Generalization is the tendency to react to similar stimuli after learning to associate reinforcement to one stimulus. For example, when driving one learns that red lights mean stop, so one does the behavior of stopping. Then, later when handling machinery, one may also see a red light blinking or shining and choose to react once again as if one was driving. So, the person stops because initially they learned that when driving, red means stop, thus in similar instances a red light will also trigger the act of stopping.
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For the experiments conducted with discrimination and generalization training, the researchers used a virtual rat program known as Sniffy. Sniffy was the subject in each and every experiment, and simulated many behaviors of live rats. Using this program, the experimenters were able to set conditions for each experiment without any external factors influencing the virtual rat. The researchers used the program to create an operant chamber with a speaker, a food pellet bowl, and a lever/bar. The experimenters trained Sniffy the Rat to bar-press to receive the reward of a food pellet. After this association was made between the bar-press and food, and also the sound that the bar made when pressed with food, then discrimination training and generalization training could begin.
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