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Questionsaboutstuff's avatar

Why does it seem like in similar cases conditional learning or habituation happens?

Asked by Questionsaboutstuff (233 points ) November 28th, 2012

So I’d like you to explain to me where I’m going wrong and how these two types of cases are different?

So in classic conditioning like with Pavlov’s dogs, if we ring a bell right before we bring food to the dogs where they would normally start to dribble, now if the dogs just hear the bell it will make them dribble. On a cellular level when two cells fire at a similar time, in the future when one fires it will set off the second one.

But in habituation the opposite seems to happen, so in our head we have the connection fattening foods taste good, but if we had burgers everyday rather than strengthening that connection it dies out, where am I going wrong here?

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12 Answers

Shippy's avatar

Not having studied Habituation, but knowing a little about Pavlov’s theories. I’d take a flier and say that, “conditioning” is the key word. This elicits a new behavior as opposed to an established behavior. I did look up Habituation, but it was quite wordy. So I reckon that lying closely to Habituation is “desensitization”. Where a stimuli used repeatedly looses effect.

An example would be that a person afraid of flying, would eventually become so desensitized to that experience after much flying, it would undo the “conditioned” response. And become part of habituation. Which is an older response. Habituation I would imagine is further consolidated by frames of reference to that experience (learning).

Questionsaboutstuff's avatar

@Shippy
What do you mean by one elicits a new behavior as opposed to an established behavior? We dont have inbuilt the urge to eat burgers or to dribble when we heard a bell rings.

Have another go at explaining it maybe I’ll get it then

Questionsaboutstuff's avatar

The same as with Pavlov’s dogs if we take out the bell, if we give food to the dogs again and again they will like the food less. So in the original experiment the link between the bell and the food is strong but for some reason the food and the primary please center is has weakened.

Shippy's avatar

@Questionsaboutstuff No because that is still in the process of a conditioned response. No one rang a bell at Big Macs. So leave out the bells for now. That is a simple experiment showing that responses can be motivated in the most simple of minds, like rats, doves and dogs. Also with humans. Its not about liking the food so much, it is a behavior that is REINFORCED by a bell, or by a negative or positive reinforcer. Or even an eratic reinforcer which is the strongest. Use gambling for e.g. If we won every hand would we bother playing?

thorninmud's avatar

Habituation happens when early exposures to a stimulus aren’t associated with a reward. It then becomes very difficult to use the stimulus for conditioning purposes, because the brain now treats the stimulus as irrelevant information in its pursuit of pleasure. If the connection between stimulus and reward is to be made, it needs to happen with the early exposures to the stimulus.

LostInParadise's avatar

If you are sufficiently hungry then you will like those burgers just fine. In addition to wanting food that tastes good and satisfies our appetite, we also like variety, but that desire is not as prominent as the other two.

Questionsaboutstuff's avatar

@Shippy
I’m still not getting it, explain to me whats happening on the cellular level and explain how both are different.

Questionsaboutstuff's avatar

@thorninmud
But when I eat a burger isn’t that the reward? why isnt the link between eating a burger and my mind going that’s high in fat and you like that being strengthened?

Questionsaboutstuff's avatar

@Shippy
Just answer me this, why isnt the link between burger and that’s burger gives you a lot of energy that you like being reinforced?

thorninmud's avatar

@Questionsaboutstuff What’s happening at a cellular level is much too complex to lay out here but if you’re really interested, it’s the subject of this study.

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lifeflame's avatar

Conditioning is when a connection is set up. Bell—> food (salivation by reflex at anticipation)

Habituation is when a connection is broken because of evolved response to overstimulation.
So if you kept ringing lots of bells and throwing lots of burgers at the dogs, they would get full, and there would be no anticipation (and therefore no salivation).

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