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Theory of classical conditioning

Classical conditioning is a term used to describe learning which has been acquired through experience.  One of the best known examples of classical conditioning can be found with the Russian Psychologist Ivan Pavlov and his experiments on dogs.
It is a type of learning, to elicit (drawing out) a response is transferred from one stimulus to another’s, Pavlov in his series of experiment where he taught one of his laboratory’s animal a dog to salivate at the round of a bell by giving meat power along with the bell many times Pavlov conditioning is called classical because it was the first to be reported in the book of Psychology. Pavlov also noted that “if a neutral stimulus (one that does not elicit a certain response) is repeatedly paired with an unconditioned stimulus (one that does automatically elicit a response) the neutral stimulus will eventually take on the power to elicit the response. This is now called classical conditioning.
Ivan Petrovich Pavlov (1849-1936) was born in Ryazan a rural village in Central Russia. After reading translations of the scientific work of Charles Darwin and others he was enrolled the University of St. Petersburg. He completed medical studies at the imperial medical academy. Pavlov is best known for Research Studies of the Digestive System in dogs, exploring between salivation and digestions.
Ivan Petrovich Pavlov

In these experiments, Pavlov trained his dogs to salivate when they heard a bell ring.  In order to do this he showed them food, the sight of which caused them to salivate. 

            Later Pavlov would ring a bell every time he would bring the food out, until eventually, he could get the dogs to salivate just by ringing the bell without giving the dogs any food.
Pavlov experiment on dog

In this Simple but ingenious experiment, Pavlov showed how a reflex (salivation, a natural bodily response) could become conditioned (modified) to an external stimulus (the bell) thereby creating a conditioned reflex/response.
                  “The following are 4, elements of classical conditioning”.
Before Conditioning     During conditioning                   after conditioning
UCS   UCR                UCS+CS           CR             CS                     CR
CS R                        Meat+bell         salivation        Bell     salivation

Behavioral Explanation of learning:
Do you associate the smell of baking bread with eating fresh bred- a pleasant experience for most people? If you have learned this association the smell of baking bred will trigger thoughts in you about eating bread.
         Contiguity: The association of two events that are always closely paired or that repeatedly occurs at about the sometime.
         Stimulus: An environmental conditions or event that activate the senses.
         Response: An observable reaction to a known (or unknown) stimulus.
         Neutral stimulus (NS): An event or happening that has no effect on an organism.
         Unconditioned Stimulus (US): An object, event or happening in the physical environment that causes spontaneous activity in or organism.
         UN conditioned Response (UR): An action triggered spontaneously by a stimulus.
         Conditioning: The establishment of a new association between a stimulus and a response.
         Conditioned Stimulus (CS): A previously neutral stimulus that elicits a conditioned response after pairing with an unconditioned response after pairing with an unconditioned stimulus.
         Conditioned response (CR): A response evoked by a conditioned stimulus.
         Discrimination: Learning that it is appropriate to respond to some stimuli but not to others.

Components involved in classical conditioning

            We can gain a better understanding of classical conditioning by looking at the various components involved in his experiment.

            The unconditioned stimulus (Food):  An unconditioned stimulus is anything, which can evoke a response without prior learning or conditioning.  For example when a dog eats some food it causes his mouth to salivate.  Therefore the food is an unconditioned stimulus, because it causes a reflex response (salivation) automatically and without the dog having to learn how to salivate. 

            Conditioned stimulus (Bell):  The conditioned stimulus is created by learning, and therefore, does not create a response without prior conditioning.  For example, when Pavlov rang a bell and caused the dogs to salivate, this was a conditioned stimulus because the dogs learnt to associate the bell with food.  If they had not learnt to associate the bell with food they would not have salivated when the bell was rung.

            Unconditioned Reflex/Response (Salivation):  An unconditioned reflex is anything that happens automatically without you having to think about it, such as your mouth salivating when you eat.  Unconditioned reflex – Reflex that happens automatically and you did not have to learn how to do it.

Conditioned Reflex (Salivation in response to bell):  A conditioned reflex is a response which you have learnt to associate with something.  For example, the dogs salivated when Pavlov rang a bell, when previously (without conditioning) the bell would not cause the dogs to salivate.

Basic Concepts in Classical Conditioning:

There are several principles that are associated with classical conditioning, some of these are:
·        Extinction:  A conditioned response will disappear over time when the conditioned stimulus is no longer presented.
  Spontaneous Recovery:  Sometimes there is a weak appearance of a previously extinguished response.
  Stimulus Generalization:  This is when individual respond in this same way to experience stimuli.  For example, all fuzzy animals scaring a young child instead of just a fuzzy cat.
·        Stimulus discrimination:  Organisms can learn to discriminate between various stimuli.

·        Higher Order Conditioning:  This is when a neutral stimulus can cause the conditioned response sense if it had been associated with the conditioned stimulus.

         Forward Conditioning: It is that form of classical conditioning which is considered to be the most efficient as regard its result. This is called forward conditioning. Because the CS is presented first or earlier than UCS. The CS can be initiated and continued to overlap the CS in time by careful handling of the stimuli with other factors then a controlled, most efficient and effective conditioning take place.
         Backward Conditioning: This conditioning is just the opposite of forward conditioning. When then UCS precedes the CS, the procedure is called Backward conditioning. In this arrangement the acquisition of CR is very slim. In some cases, where the results have been very positive pseudo conditioning rather than learning may have been cause
         Delayed Conditioning: That type of conditioning where the response is later than the normal time. In this arrangement the CS is kept sustain for a significant interval before the outset of the UCS the conditioning, which is result, is known as delayed conditioning.
         Pavlov’s studies of classical conditioning had an impact on research methodology. Both in terms of the value placed on precise observation and measurement, and the use of number of experiment to explore one topic with great precision.
         At a more practical level, therapists and other often use classical conditioning principles to reduce fearful or irrational behaviour in children and adults. For example, throwing a child who cannot swim into deep water on the assumption that this will make the child learn to swim is likely to result in the child developing a fear of water. Therapists often use procedures derived from classical conditioning to help us overcome such problems.
Not all behaviour follows the model identified in classical conditioning. For example, when a child is mute at the time when speech should be merging. As a result formal instructional procedures based on classical conditioning principles are not often used. Although classical conditioning can come about inadvertently, and many irrational fears and phobias as well as negative or inhabiting responses to daily experience are formed in this way.

There is a great implication of this model for understanding, explaining and predicting the classroom situations. A teacher may use this model to make his instructional planning and classroom teaching more effective and efficient. The careful choice of conditioned stimuli is order to be associated with UCS can improve the results of learning. Moreover finding out those ideas, information or units of presentation which are to be treated initially as mental stimuli or CS can open the new avenues of fruitful leaning.
         Capacity: Such capacity differences between normal and retarded children have interested luria in, who has studied the relationship to language development.
         Practice: Conditioned reflexes are strengthened with repetition under reinforcement.
         Motivation: In alimentary reflexes, in which salvation is reinforced by food, the animal has to be hungry, drive is particularly important in the case of instrumental responses.
         Understanding: It means utilization of knowledge, utilization of the acquired connections.
         Transfer: Where one stimulus serves to evoke the conditioned reflex learned to another.
         Forgetting: As Pavlov did not deal systematically with the retention or forgetting of conditioned reflexes over time. Their conditioned reflexes were greatly over learned

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