© 1974 by the W. B. Saunders Company. Copyright under the International Copyright Union. All rights reserved. This book is protected by copyright. No part of it maybe reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the publisher. Made in the United States of America. Press of W. B. Saunders Company. Library of Congress catalog card number 74-4580.

Last digit is the print number: 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

 


 

DEDICATION

 

To my parents, who are responsible for my existence and started me learning.

To Benita, who makes existence pleasurable and shares in my learning.

To everyone who is interested in the nature of existence and learning.

 


 

preface

 

I have several objectives in writing this book. First, I want to show the reader how basic principles in the psychology of learning are applicable in varying degrees from the physiological level through complex human behavior. Most learning texts omit physiological material and minimize discussions of applications of learning principles to problems of human behavior. However, the physiological literature suggests relationships and constraints that are relevant to much of learning. Similarly, attempts to apply learning principles to various practical problems have suggested new interrelationships among learning variables, pointed out inadequacies in current psychological models, and provided a proving ground for the relevance and pragmatic aspects of our knowledge of the learning process.

 

In attempting to trace learning phenomena and principles across the various levels, I have organized the material somewhat differently from other texts. For example, where another text might have chapters devoted to such topics as verbal learning and behavior modification, in this text these topics have been broken down into their constituents and are discussed under general principles such as contiguity, holding mechanisms, and feedback. I hope such an organization is a useful one, both for the reader just entering the field of the psychology of learning and for the reader who has learned about the field using a different approach.

 

A second objective of this book is to provide the reader with a brief overview of the various ways in which different learning phenomena are conceptualized by different theorists, as opposed to selecting for the reader what I consider the best explanation for any phenomenon. Although such an approach may be slightly more difficult for the reader, I believe it will provide him a greater breadth of perspectives both for understanding the current state of learning and for better assimilation of future findings and theories.

 

The emphasis of this book is more on concepts and ideas than on Specific laboratory experiments. Specific experiments are discussed to the extent that they are unique or critical experiments, differentiate various Points of view, or illustrate important ideas. This book thus will supplement texts that stress discussions of the methodology of learning or emphasize experiments.

 

For people interested in applications of learning principles to problems of human behavior, particularly clinical problems, the psychology of learning offers a number of conditioning-based theories and therapies, Such as behavior modification, to name but one. As powerful as I believe these approaches to be, they are far from adequate in explaining the complexities of human behavior. As these learning-based models expand, they must take into account such things as learning-genetic interactions, the nature and source of individual differences in conditioning, and predispositions for certain types of learning. From here we can develop the type of “personality theory” that is both experimentally based and useful to the learning-oriented practitioner in delineating the relevant variables for therapy. I suspect that the development of such models is both highly desirable and inevitable. Therefore I have included a chapter on personality that covers some of the existing research and thoughts related to such models.

 

The final chapter, on behavior, cognitions, and consciousness, deals with how such subjective phenomena as consciousness, cognitions, and general awareness relate to the relatively mechanical-behavioral model of man developed in the earlier chapters. Some of the issues raised in this chapter are the basis for many of the major controversies in psychology and philosophy. Many of these issues cannot currently be resolved satisfactorily, and the assumptions one psychologist makes about them may lead him in directions quite different from those followed by another psychologist who makes different assumptions.

 

I would like to thank the following people who made comments on various parts of an early draft of the book: John DeLorge, Bruce Dunn, Jay Isgur, and Jack Keller.

 

WILLIAM L. MIKULAS


Chapter One

WHAT IS LEARNlNG?

 1

 

Development of a definition

2

Learning and motivation

4

Sensitization and habituation

7

Other non-learning performance variables

9

Measures of learning and retention

11

What can learn?

12

Unlearned behaviors

14

Some theoretical issues

15

Summary

18

Suggested readings

19

 

Chapter Two

PHYSIOLOGY OF LEARNING

21

 

Neuronal-synaptic models

21

RNA-protein models

25

Glial models

33

Non-connectionistic theories

33

Memory traces

37

Where to now?

42

Summary

42

Suggested readings

44

 

Chapter Three

PERCEPTION AND LEARNING

45

 

Attention

47

Theories of perceptual learning

48

Visual illusions

55

The Whorfian hypothesis

57

Set

59

Perception and verbal learning

62

Complexity

63

Summary

69

Suggested readings

70

 

Chapter Four

INFORMATION HOLDING MECHANISMS

71

 

Sensory storage

71

Short term memory

72

Two storages or one’?

74

Long term memory

76

Reverberatory circuits

78

Consolidation

81

Electroshock therapy

86

Some theoretical extensions

88

Summary

91

Suggested readings

92

 

Chapter Five

STIMULUS CONTIGUITY

93

 

Theories of respondent conditioning

98

Examples of respondent conditioning

100

Conditioned drives and conditioned reinforcement

103

Two-process theory

107

Associative interference theory

108

Counterconditioning

111

Respondent extinction and flooding

115

Summary

117

Suggested readings

118

Chapter Six

FEEDBACK

119

Sensitivity training groups

122

Operant conditioning

123

Reinforcement delay and schedule

128

The nature of reinforcement

130

Theories of reinforcement

131

Reinforcing brain stimulation

132

Punishment

137

Examples of operant conditioning

140

Conditioning visceral responses

144

Biofeedback

146

Knowledge of results

149

Summary 152
Suggested readings 154

Chapter Seven

PERSONALITY

155

 

Genetic influences on psychopathology

156

Preparedness of learning

160

Physiological bases of schizophrenia

162

Physiological-environmental interactions

163

Individual differences in conditioning

165

Experimental neurosis

169

Superstition and learned helplessness

171

Frustration-fixation

174

Approach-avoidance conflicts

176

Masochism

178

Repression

179

Summary

179

Suggested readings

181

 

Chapter Eight

BEHAVIOR, COGNITIONS, AND CONSCIOUSNESS

183

 

Nature of consciousness

185

Mind-body problem

187

Mediation

190

Awareness and verbal conditioning

191

Interactions of cognitions and behaviors

195

Levels of freedom

203

States of consciousness

205

Mental illness as a state of consciousness

206

Levels of consciousness

208

The quest

209

Summary

211

Suggested readings

213

 

REFERENCES

215

 

NAME INDEX

229

 

TOPIC INDEX

235