By Stephen Walker
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Extra resources for Animal Learning: An Introduction
That is, Pavlov believed that the scope and limits of perceptual functions would be different in different animal species, and indeed at different 65 levels of the mammalian nervous system, and that these differences would be made clear by conditioning experiments (1927, p. Ill). 266; Baernstein and Hull, 1931, p. 99). 2. 2. The conditioned reflex modelled as a simple battery circuit The large battery, E, on the left means that the switch Su can be regarded as an unconditioned stimulus turning on the lamp, L, as the unconditioned response.
Such responses are selected partly for convenience, and partly because they appear to be useful indicators of stimulus novelty. They include, understandably, the turning of the head and eyes towards the source of a localized stimulus, and the desynchronization of the electroencephalograph (EEG) which is known to occur with subjective attention to external stimuli in normal human adults. Slightly less obviously, responses which are in practice correlated with stimulus novelty include dilation of blood vessels in the head, and the 41 ‘galvanic skin response’ or ‘GSR’, which is a drop in the electrical resistance of the skin, usually measured in the hand.
In terms of • the telephone switchboard analogy, a temporary connection should now become unplugged. But neither of these interpretations was used by 62 Pavlov: instead, the cessation of salivation when a stimulus was no longer followed by food was attributed to a neural process of inhibition, which is assumed to have suppressive effects on response output, without changing the neural connection formed when the conditioned reflex was established. The main experimental result which supports this explanation is the phenomenon of ‘spontaneous recovery’.