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Learning is any permanent change in behavior that can be attributed to experience Learning isnt always the result of practice It depends on what you mean by practice Merely repeating a response will not necessarily produce learning You could close your eyes and swing a tennis racket hundreds of time without learning anything about tennis Reinforcement is the key to learning Any event that increases the probability that a response will occur again is reinforcement An example would be a person trying to teach a dog a trick could reinforce correct responses by giving the dog some food each time it sits up Learning can also occur in other ways For example if a girl got stung by a bee she could learn to fear bees In this case the girls fear is reinforced by the pain she felt when she got stung Unlocking the secrets of learning begins with noting what happens before and after a response Events that precede a response are called antecedents Consequences are effects that follow a response Paying careful attention to the before and after of learning is a key to understanding it An example of antecedents would be a bee stinging a girl The consequence of that would be the girls arm being in pain In Classical conditioning antecedent events become associated with one another A stimulus that does not produce a response is linked with one that does In Operant Conditioning learning is based on the consequences of responding A response may be followed by reinforcement such as food or by punishment or nothing These results determine whether a response is likely to be made again Pavlovs classic demonstration of conditioning came about by accident He was actually studying digestion To observe salivation he placed meat powder on a dogs tongue After a while of doing this he noticed that the dogs were salivating before the food reached their mouths Later
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