By Stephen Walker
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Additional info for Animal Learning: An Introduction
The acquisition of conditioned reflexes A wide variety of experimental stimuli were used in Pavlov’s experiments bells, buzzers, pure tones, and the sounds of musical instruments, presentation of illuminated visual patterns, or the sight of gradually rotating objects. None of these artificial stimuli would normally induce a hungry dog to salivate, but if any of them were to be presented consistently for a few seconds before the dog was given food, then the ‘conditioned stimulus’ would by itself elicit copious salivation.
1970) reported rapid habituation of the gill-withdrawal reflex over the first 10 elicitations by a jet of seawater, separated by 3 minute intervals. The reflex recovered after a rest of two hours, but could also be brought back without this long rest if a long and strong tactile stimulus was applied to the neck region. In that report Pinkser et al. note that six of Thompson and Spencer’s nine characteristics of habituation (listed above, pp. 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).
But, with due respect to the value of physiological research, it is a form of behaviourist fallacy to believe that such similarities mean anything profound, or that because Aplysia’s habituation takes this form ‘Studies along these lines could specify how long term memory is established and how it relates to the short term process’ (Kandel, 1976). Habituation in human infants and adults John Locke (1689/1982) shared the view that the learning abilities of molluscs were in a fundamental sense equivalent to those of the human species, but suggested that the factor of perceptual complexity ought to be considered as supplying a measure of difference between mollusc and man (his examples were cockles and oysters — see p.