December 2009 Archives

Maze Generator

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The program generates mazes using three standard algorithms: Depth-first search, Prim's algorithm, and Kruskal's algorithm.

The Show Gen option will allow you to watch the construction process. Use the scrollbar below the option to control the generation speed.

Similarly, the Show Solve option will display the process of solving the maze, and it too has a scrollbar for speed control.

The Backtracks option controls the display of dead-end paths, where the solver backs up.

The Cycle button will loop the program indefinitely, generating and solving mazes using the current settings.


Bed Jumping?

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I thought this was something different when I first read the headliner. These people go to hotels, jump on beds, and post pictures of the act.

How would you describe this in behavioral terms?




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Behavioral psychology research is shedding light on why some people become compulsive gamblers--and how to boost the success rate of treatment programs.

How does this relate to what we have been studying. How does it relate to schedules of reinforcement? Who is that guy in the picture?


Schedules of Reinforcement

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This is an interesting site. It covers a variety of topics related to operant conditioning. Many of the topics are not covered in much detail. However it is a good example of how a student could put a small website together for the class. The section on schedules of reinforcement has enough detail to be helpful in our understanding of the topic.



Effective conditioning requires a correlation between the experimenter's definition of a response and an organism's, but an animal's perception of its behavior differs from ours. Various definitions of the response are explored experimentally using the slopes of learning curves to infer which comes closest to the organism's definition. The resulting exponentially weighted moving average provides a model of memory which grounds a quantitative theory of reinforcement in which incentives excite behavior and focus the excitement on the responses present in memory at the same time. The correlation between the organism's memory and the behavior measured by the experimenter is given by coupling coefficients derived for various schedules of reinforcement. For simple schedules these coefficients can be concatenated to predict the effects of complex schedules and can be inserted into a generic model of arousal and temporal constraint to predict response rates under any scheduling arrangement. According to the theory, the decay of memory is response-indexed rather than time-indexed. Incentives displace memory for the responses that occur before them and may truncate the representation of the response that brings them about. This contiguity-weighted correlation model bridges opposing views of the reinforcement process and can be extended in a straightforward way to the classical conditioning of stimuli. Placing the short-term memory of behavior in so central a role provides a behavioral account of a key cognitive process.

Instrumental or operant conditioning - Slides

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A slideshow on operant conditioning. There are no notes associated with these slides. After taking this class you should be able to combine these slides with what you have learned and be able to give this presentation.

How do people learn? Bandura v Piaget

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Read these short essays (make sure you read the readers' comments below them - if any), search for additional information on each topic and then compare and contrast the two.

Bandura -

Piaget -

Read these short essays (make sure you read the readers' comments below them), search for additional information on each topic and then compare and contrast the two.

Constructivism -

Behaviorism -

Vending Machine Illustration

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What caption would you write for the image below if you were using it in the context of conditioning and learning? Can you find some other good images that could be used to illustrace C&L concepts?


Seaworld's InfoBook on Animal Training

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This is actually a hard topic to teach. In part becasue it seems easy, however the concepts are easily confused. How would you go about putting an introduction to Classical Conditioning together?


The development of pecking in ring doves is described and analyzed as a model system for understanding the roles of learning in behavioral development.  Ring dove squab go from complete dependence on their parents to independent feeding during the third and fourth week post-hatch.  They learn to identify food and to consume it through their interaction with food and their parents.  This chapter describes experiments that analyze the specific learning mechanisms involved in the development of pecking and what it is that squabs learn from their experience.  More generally, the chapter illustrates the utility of applying learning principles to the analysis of behavioral development.

Thorndike v Guthrie v Hull (Various Theories)

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Connectionism (E. Thorndike) -

Contiguity Theory (E. Guthrie) -

Drive Reduction Theory (C. Hull) -

Compare and contrast these three theories.

Dr. P's Dog Training

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The Library - presents a detailed outline of the contents of this site & includes:

Photo/Video Collections - see working dogs in action.
Various types of work (individual dogs & topics), agility, hunting, protection (general, individual dogs, police/military, schutzhund, ring, KNPV) & other stuff.

Obedience - competition technique & theory.
Competition related, clicker training, learning theory, & electronic collars.

Assistance Dogs - helping folks with disabilities.
General info, articles/stories (individual dogs, seizure alert dogs, news, others), providers, & lists of providers.

The Nose Knows - dog chores involving smell.
Tracking, searching, & other scents.

Protection & Police/Military Training - martial arts for dogs.
Various types (Schutzhund, ring, KNVP & others), breed info, general articles, police, & military working dogs.

Other Dog "Work" - various sporting/working activities.
Agility, carting & weightpulling, flyball & frisbees, freestyle, herding, hiking & such, hunting, livestock guardian dogs, lure coursing & racing, sledding & such, & therapy.

Misc. Info. & Resources - lots of other relevant stuff.
Acronyms & terms, acting, associations, career info, e-zines, humor, legal issues & bites, names, rescue, statistics, upcoming events, & other stuff.

Confusing Consequences - Short Essay

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by Dr. Plonsky.

I have found that many people confuse negative reinforcement and punishment. These people include dog trainers, college students, and surprisingly, even many college professors and Introduction to Psychology textbooks. In fact, I recently read the book Don't Shoot the Dog! by Karen Pryor and was a bit dismayed to find this confusion there as well. Note that this is not an attempt to flame the book or criticize it unduly. I like the book and learned a lot from it. I recommend it highly to anyone interested in training animals (and sometimes even those interested in training their children). Nonetheless, I do believe that the book suffers from the problem of confusing negative reinforcement and punishment. As such it propagates this confusion because many dog trainers look to this book as a definitive source on the science of behavior.


The proposal that there exist independent explicit and implicit learning systems is based on two further distinctions: (i) learning that takes place with versus without concurrent awareness, and (ii) learning that involves the encoding of instances (or fragments) versus the induction of abstract rules or hypotheses. Implicit learning is assumed to involve unconscious rule learning. We examine the implicit learning evidence from subliminal learning, conditioning, artificial grammar learning, instrumental learning, and reaction times in sequence learning. Unconscious learning has not been satisfactorily established in any of these areas. The assumption that learning in some of these tasks (e.g., artificial grammar learning) is predominantly based on rule abstraction is questionable. When subjects cannot report the "implicitly learned" rules that govern stimulus selection, this is often because their knowledge consists of instances or fragments of the training stimuli rather than rules. In contrast to the distinction between conscious and unconscious learning, the distinction between instance and rule learning is a sound and meaningful way of taxonomizing human learning. We discuss various computational models of these two forms of learning.

Behavioral Adaptation - Presentation Slides

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What do you make of these? How do they relate to what we have been studying? How do they relate to the material in your reference text? Are you familiar with the graph to the extent that you can describe what it is 'saying'?

Animal Cognition & Learning - Dr. Cook's Site

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This is a great site worthy of exploring. What did you find interesting on this site? What did you find suprising? What did you find difficult to read though? What do you disagree with? Why is the understanding of animal cognition important?


A complete on-line text book by J. E. R. Staddon


Table of Contents:

1 The evolution, development, and modification of behavior
Niches, similarities and differences. Philosophical background. Evolution and development. Summary

2 Variation and selection of behavior
Simple orientation mechanisms. Reflex mechanism. Inhibition and reflex strength. Summary

3 Direct orientation and feedback
Taxes. The integration of behavior. The nature of explanation. Summary

4 Operant behavior
Causal and functional analysis of operant behavior. The logic of historical systems. Summary

5 Reward and punishment
Reinforcement and the law of effect. Contingency and feedback functions. Summary

6 Feeding regulation: a model motivational system
Reinforcement and homeostasis. Obesity and schedule performance: a static analysis. Summary

7 The optimal allocation of behavior
Utility and adaptation to constraint. The allocation of behavior. Experimental applications. Summary

8 Choice and decision rules
Optimal choice. Matching and maximizing. Overall maximizing. Summary

9 Foraging and behavioral ecology
Diet selection and functional response. Natural feedback functions. Summary

10 Stimulus control and cognition
The definition of stimulus. Stimulus generalization. Similarity. Summary

11 Stimulus control and performance
Inhibitory and excitatory' control. Behavioral contrast and discrimination performance. Competition and matching. Summary

12 Response Strength
Time-allocation constraints: the pressure model Summary

13 Memory and temporal control Temporal control. Memory and spatial learning. Summary

14 Learning, I: the acquisition of knowledge
Template learning. Reinforced learning. Summary

15 Learning, II: the guidance of action Historical background. Operant and respondent behavior. Behavioral variation. the origins of operant behavior. The guidance of action Experimental applications. Summary

16 Learning, III: experimental analysis Conditioned reinforcement. Avoidance and escape. Extinction. Summary

Animal Trainer's Operant Conditioning

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This page attempts to explain Operant Conditioning, and promote the use of Positive Reinforcement and Negative Punishment in animal training.

How good are these notes? What would you add or go into more detail about? Are there missing topics? Which topics or areas do you find most interesting?

Intra-Cranial Self-Stimulation

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"If it was possible to become free of negative emotions by a riskless
implementation of an electrode - without impairing intelligence and
the critical mind - I would be the first patient."
Dalai Lama (Society for Neuroscience Congress, Nov. 2005)