• Learning: a relatively enduring change in behavior, resulting from experiences.
  • Nonassociative learning: Responding after repeated exposure to a single stimulus, or event.
  • Types of learning:
    1. Non associative learning: learning about a stimulus, such as sight or sound, in the external world. Habituation: when our behavioral response to a stimulus decreases Sensitizataion: when our behavioral response to a stimulus increases.
    2. Associative Learning: learning the relationship between two pieces of information.
    3. observational: learning by watching how others behave.


  • Behaviorism, founded by John B.Watson, focuses on observable aspects of learning.
  • There are 3 types of learning, non-associative learning, associative learning and observational learning.
  • Associative learning process include classical and operant conditioning.
  • The nonassociative learning processes- habituation and sensitization- are simple forms of learning. Habituation results in decreased responding after repeated presentations of a stimulus. Sensitization results in increased responding after repeated presentations of a stimulus.
  • Kandel’s work on the aplysia has shown that habituation and sensitization occur through alteration in neurotransmitter release.


Classical Conditioning (Ivan Pavlov)

  • Classical Conditioning: a type of associative learning in which neutral stimulus comes to elicit a response when it is associated with a stimulus that already produces that response.
  • Unconditioned reflex: a response that does not have to be learned, such as reflex.
  • Unconditioned stimulus: a stimulus that elicits response, such as a reflex without any prior learning.
  • Conditioned stimulus:a stimulus that elicits a response only after learning has taken place.
  • Conditioned response: a response to conditioned stimulus, a response that has been learned
  • Acquisition: the gradual formation of an association between conditioned and unconditioned stimuli.
  • Extinction: a process in which the conditioned response is weakened when the conditioned stimulus is repeated without the unconditioned stimulus.
  • Spontaneous recovery:  A process in which a previously extinguished conditioned response reemerges after the presentation of a conditioned stimulus.
  • Stimulus generalization: learning that occurs when stimuli that are similar but not identical to the conditioned stimulus produce the conditioned response.
  • Stimulus discrimination: a differentiation between two similar stimuli when only one of them is consistently associated with the conditioned stimulus.
  • Rescorla-Wagner Model: a cognitive model of classical conditioning; it holds the strength of the CS-US association is determined by the extent to which the unconditioned stimulus is expected.
  • Phobia: an acquired fear that is out of proportion to the real threat of an object or of situation.
  • The neurotransmitter Dopamine is released in the brain after positive prediction errors.  Dopamine is no longer released when non surprise is associated with the presentation of CS.
  • Classical conditioning explains the development of phobias and contribute to drug addiction. Accordingly, techniques based on classical conditioning may be used to treat phobias and addictions.



Operant Conditioning/Instrumental Conditioning (B.F.Skinner)


  • Law of effect: Thorndike’s general theory of learning; any behavior that leads to a “satisfying state of affairs” is likely to occur again, and any behavior that leads to “annoying state of affairs” is less likely to occur again.
  • Reinforcer: a stimulus that follows a response and increases the likelihood that the response will be repeated.
  • Shaping: shaping, an operant conditioning technique, consists of reinforcing behaviors that are increasingly similar to the desired behavior. This technique can be used to train animals to perform extraordinary behaviors.
  • Positive reinforcement: the administration of a stimulus to increase the probability of a behavior being repeated.
  • Negative reinforcement: the removal of an unpleasant stimulus to increase the probability of a behavior’s being repeated.
  • Continuous reinforcement: a type of learning in which behavior is reinforced each time it occurs.
  • Partial reinforcement: a type of learning in which behavior is reinforced intermittently.
  • Fixed interval schedule: occurs when reinforcement is provided after a certain amount of time is passed.
  • Variable interval schedule; occurs when reinforcement is provided after the passage of time, but the time is not regular.
  • Fixed ratio schedule: occurs when reinforcement is provided after a certain number of responses have been made.
  • Variable ratio schedule: occurs when reinforcement is provided after an unpredictable number of responses.

Partial reinforcement extinction effect: refers to the greater persistence of behavior under partial reinforcement than under continuous reinforcement.

Behavior Management:

the use of operant conditioning techniques to eliminate unwanted behaviors and replace them with new one.


Cognitive Map: a visual or spatial mental representation of an environment.


Latent Learning: learning that takes place in absence of reinforcement.

  1. Michael Gazzaniga, Todd Heatherton, Diane Halpern: Psychological Science, 5th edition, Norton Publicaitons, Page No: 221-263.