Non-Associative Learning

Non-Associative Learning

Non-Associative Learning is where a reaction to a stimuli (event) is increased/decreased over time, as it is learnt to be expected.

Dual Process Model

One model of Non-associative learning (the dual process model) postulates that there are two processes; H (habituation) and S (sensitisation). Any stimulus can activate H, S or both, and observed behaviour is the sum of the two processes.

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Habituation

Habituation is a decrease in response amplitude or frequency as a consequence of repeated experience with a stimulus.

Habituation is mediated by the S-R Pathway; the shortest neural pathway involved in detecting/responding to stimuli.

Coolidge Effect

The Coolidge effect is an example of habituation where (male) mammals lose interested in a frequent sexual partner over time, whereas sexual interest is renewed when introduced to possibly receptive new partners.

Sensitisation

Sensitisation is an increase in response amplitude or frequency as a consequence of repeated experience with a stimulus.

The sensitisation process is mediated by the "state" system (everything but the S-R pathway).

Heart Rate in PTSD

Sufferers of PTSD show an increased heart rate response to stressors over time, rather than a decreased one, meaning that they have been sensitised to the stressor.

Examples

Studying with Animals

A study with Aplysia

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Fearful/Angry Faces

In normal adults, neural responses (activation of the hippocampus) to angry faces sensitises, whereas the response to fearful faces habituates. (Strauss et al 2005 and Brieter et al 1996 respectively).