Mathematical Psychology and Psychophysiology

By Stephen Grossberg | Go to book overview
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16. Concluding remarks: Real-time analysis of multicomponent behavioral mechanisms. The above considerations suggest an alternative to Hinson and Staddon's claim that "contrast results from changes in relative reinforcement rate" (p. 432). One might begin by saying that contrast can result from a complex interaction between at least four types of competition acting in different proportions, and two transmitter systems acting on different time scales. For example, cues whose generalization gradients are narrowed by incentive feedback due to dipole competition between on-reactions and off-rebounds can cause behavioral contrast when their narrowed gradients are heightened by an STM storage process, if these stored representations thereupon release motor commands that control observable behavior.

One's first reaction might be to balk at the complexity that such a multicomponent description seems to entail. Such basic components are ignored, however, at the peril of being continually driven into error and paradox. For example, greater expectancy mismatch and arousal sometimes, but not always, yield a larger contrast effect. If the ambient arousal level is too high, they do not because the rebound is reduced by the inverted U law which results from transmitter adaptation and dipole competition. If all cues remain active before and after the mismatch, they do not because all the cues control small net incentive due to dipole competition between their conditioned reinforcer signals. If the cues that are on before the mismatch and on after the mismatch are too dissimilar, they do not if they are separately normalized. Thus all the component processes can be differentially varied to amplify or to cancel each other as a function of experimental manipulations and internal parameter changes. More importantly, all the component processes are needed to build up and stabilize the behavioral codes which lead to behavioral contrast effects as a special property. Such considerations suggest that it is better to avoid all one sentence generalities, and to study the interplay of underlying behavioral mechanisms as they react in real-time to different experimental conditions.


Berlyne D. E., 1969. "The reward-value of indifferent stimulation", Reinforcement and Behavior ( J. T. Tapp , ed.), Academic Press, New York.

Bitterman M. E., 1972. "Phyletic differences in learning", Biological Boundaries of Learning ( M. E. P. Seligman and J. L. Hager, eds.), Appleton-Century-Crofts, New York.

Bloomfield T. M., 1969. "Behavioral contrast and the peak shift", Animal Discrimination Learning ( R. M. Gilbert and N. S. Sutherland, eds.), Academic Press, New York.

Bolles R. C., 1967. Theory of motivation, Harper and Row, New York.

Buchwald A. M., 1967. "Effects of immediate vs. delayed outcomes in associative learning", J. Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior 6, 317-320.

Butcher L. L., ed., 1978. Cholinergic-monoaminergic interactions in the brain, Academic Press, New York.

Cox V. C., J. W. Kakolewiski and E. S. Valenstein, 1969. "Inhibition of eating and drinking following hypothalamic stimulation in the rat", J. Comparative and Physiological Psychology 68, 530-535.


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