Classical Conditioning

Classical Conditioning

Classical Conditioning

Classical Conditioning

Excerpt

This book is devoted to behavioral, neurophysiological, and neurochemical methods and findings in classical conditioning. It is devoted to a set of model Pavlovian, or classical conditioning, preparations in the rabbit. Although primary emphasis has been placed on the nictitating membrane response (NMR), the set includes, in addition, eyelid, eyeball retraction, jaw movement, and heart rate responses.

It has been evident since Pavlov's time that the classical conditioning paradigm has had the potential of helping us to understand the functioning of the nervous system, the neural substrate for functional units of behavior, and behavioral systems. Nonetheless, prior to the 1960s there was a paucity of research in Western laboratories based upon preparations reliable enough to go very far in reaching that potential. In part, the relative neglect can be attributed to Watson's use of the term classical conditioning to refer not only to a method but to a functional unit, or building block, of behavior. Unfortunately, Watson's speculative use of the term classical conditioning created the illusion that its laws had been specified fully by Pavlov's conditioning research. In addition, through the year methodological difficulties were encountered with many of the response system and species selected for study with classical conditioning procedures. For example, although extensive methodological work had removed many measurement difficulties in human eyeblink conditioning, the data still displayed considerable variability and the human preparation was clearly inappropriate for physiological intervention. This was further complicated by the fact that such data were frequently interpreted in terms of "volitional" processes despite the physicalistic and deterministic nature of conditioning theory dating from Pavlov. Further-

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