Neural structures involved in classical conditioning::Classical conditioning


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Neural structures involved in classical conditioning I think this topic is much vast and a number of brain structures are involved. Stating a single brain area such as cerebellum is not comprehensive to cover the Neural structures involved in classical conditioning. Kpmiyapuram 09:09, 23 April 2007 (UTC)

You're absolutely right! However, at this point I don't have more knowledge about the neural structures that I can share. I see the two lines about the cerebellum as a start, not as a final paragraph. Please expand the topic if you have more information. (By the way, I just fixed the reference that wasn't shown.) Lova Falk 10:02, 23 April 2007 (UTC)
The literature surrounding the neural structures involved in learning is vast and inconclusive. Is it really worthwhile to put in a section on this when it will neccessarily be over-simplified and misleading? If you guys insist on this sort of information here, perhaps it would be better to come at it from a more structured angle. For example, the neural systems involved in the learned probiscus extension in the honeybee is fairly well characterized and could be pressented as a model. References to Hebbian wiring might be instructive. Or perhaps the neural structures of SPECIFIC learning could be discussed, such as place learning or fear learning in rats. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 02:23, 2 May 2007 (UTC).
I had left a tag requesting expert attention in this particular section. Not sure why it was removed. sorry, i did remove it when i added information about dopamine system. Please expand it if you have more information. Kpmiyapuram 16:54, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

The entire neural structures section should be deleted. Because classical conditioning has many different "forms" - such as fear or eyeblink - these topics should have their own pages (and they do), which handle the discussion of neural structures. Essentially, they rely on different circuits, and these forms of conditioning have been studied specifically to delineate the underlying mechanisms.--Dentate 02:04, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

any comment on "neural structures" pertinent to classical conditioning has to apply to a vast range of unconditioned stimuli and responses across a huge number of species. and the pertinent "neural structures" are in most cases speculative in any vertebrate, much less humans. a more interesting perspective would be evolutionary: what are the least complex organisms in which classical conditioning appears? i'd suggest it is likely that classical conditioning results from convergent evolution, so that there are a variety of neural mechanisms which produce it in different animal (and plant?) lineages. otherwise, delete this useless display of esoterica. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Macevoy (talk • contribs) 21:44, 15 March 2008 (UTC)

Main Article Links

It would be appropriate to reinstate the link to main article Little albert experiment.

Similarly link to mainarticle aversion therapy can also be reinstated.

Another section on systematic desensitization also has a main article. Kpmiyapuram 09:18, 23 April 2007 (UTC)

Theories of classical conditioning

I have merged the two articles S-S and S-R theories into this article. as one of these articles had been tagged to be merged with classical conditioning. the reseon being that these thoeries fall only into the theme of conditioning and hence do not need consideration as articles on their own. Kpmiyapuram 13:24, 23 April 2007 (UTC)

The theory of S-S learning proposes that stimuli are nerually associated with eachother while S-R learning proposes that the neural representation of the conditioned stimulus becomes wired directly to the response. Neither of these theories depend upon "cognitive action". —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 02:05, 2 May 2007 (UTC).
Really, this whole section is quite misleading and badly written. I don't have time right now, so I'll delete it from the page and leave it in here for future re-working
I have undone some parts of deletion by this user. The major part was already undone by another wikipedian. The word badly is not neutral (wikipedia policy?). The section needs to be revised or attention from an expert. I think this is true to a large extent for most part of this article. Regarding the cognitive activity, perhaps it is from original research. see Signalization and Stimulus-Substitution in Pavlov’s Theory of Conditioning Kpmiyapuram 15:19, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

"Stimulus-response theory, referred to a S-R theory, is a theoretical model of behavioral psychology that suggests animals, and people, can learn to associate a new stimulus- the conditioned stimulus (CS)- with a pre-existing stimulus - the unconditioned stimulus (UCS), and can think, feel or respond to the CS as if it were actually the UCS.

The opposing theory, put forward by cognitive behaviorists, is stimulus-stimulus theory (S-S theory). Stimulus-stimulus theory, referred to a S-S theory, is a theoretical model of classical conditioning that suggests a cognitive component is required to understand classical conditioning and that stimulus-response theory is an inadequate model. It proposes that a cognitive component is at play. S-R theory suggests that an animal can learn to associate a conditioned stimulus (CS) such as a bell, with the impending arrival of food termed the unconditioned stimulus, resulting in an observable behavior such as salivation. Stimulus-stimulus theory suggests that instead the animal salivates to the bell because it is associated with the concept of food, which is a very fine but important distinction.

  • This section is simply not correct! Stimulus-response (S-R) theory claims that the CS elicits a response through a direct association with the unconditioned RESPONSE (UR), not the unconditioned stimulus (US), hence the term stimulus-response. Stimulus-stimulus (S-S) theory instead claims that the conditioned response (CR) arises through the association between the CS and the US, and that it is via this association that the CS is able to elicit a response. Consider the following:

I don't own this information, however. I just refer you to the link as I feel it might help to clarify this particular area of confusion. Melissza (talk) 10:46, 23 February 2011 (UTC)Melissza

Check out Suki's human experiment as well for her views on s-s theory here =>[1]

To test this theory, psychologist Robert Rescorla undertook the following experiment <ref>Rescorla, R (1973) Effect of US habituation following conditioning. Journal of Comparitive and Physiological Psychology, 82 17-143</ref>. Rats learned to associate a loud noise as the unconditioned stimulus, and a light as the conditioned stimulus. The response of the rats was to freeze and cease movement. What would happen then if the rats were habituated to the UCS? S-R theory would suggest that the rats would continue to respond to the UCS, but if S-S theory is correct, they would be habituated to the concept of a loud sound (danger), and so would not freeze to the CS. The expiremental results suggest that S-S was correct, as the rats no longer froze when exposed to the signal light. <ref>Psychology, Peter Gray Third Edition pg 121</ref>"

all well and good, but it is very important to pay attention to the freighted language in these "theoretical" positions. "cognitive" in particular is complicated by the fact that classical conditioning has been clearly demonstrated in animals that don't "think" or "form concepts". it's ok to use the term "learned" but only in the technical sense of a behavioral change that is not developmental. and classical conditioning was early understood by using responses that were reflexive or involuntary (eye blink, salivation), rather than "cognitively mediated" or learned, and a theory that does not track or account for generalizing from reflexes to learned responses is probably just playing with words. Macevoy (talk) 22:04, 15 March 2008 (UTC)

Merging two other articles

I agree with the proposal to merge eye blink conditioning and fear conditioning into classical conditioning. Both are clearly examples of classical conditioning and the articles are too small to justify that the're separate. Lova Falk 12:18, 24 April 2007 (UTC)

I paste below the comment by another wikipedian who thinks that fear conditioning should not be merged into this article. Kpmiyapuram 15:47, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
Fear conditioning is a massive area of research with multiple applications and a vast literature. What determines whether something gets its own page? Will you put blocking into classical conditioning? Overshadowing? Sensory preconditioning? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 15:35, 2 May 2007 (UTC).
However i think the eyeblink conditioning article has more information on trace and delay conditioning and hence the merge suggestion for this article remains. Kpmiyapuram 15:47, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

I've been working on the eyeblink conditioning page. A merger is simply out of the question. A link to fear conditioning or eyeblink conditioning from classical conditioning is much more appropriate. Any help that anyone wants to provide to make eyeblink conditioning page look more professional would be great. There is much more to add, too, which I will start a discussion on tomorrow.--Dentate 01:55, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

again, "eye blink" is a pretty specific, easily measured and physical reflex, while "fear" is a complex emotional state that is in most instances learned (it is quite distinct from a startle response or a freeze response, for example). this page would do well to lay out all the generalities about classical conditioning in the context of reflex or nondevelopmental responses only, and then tackle the conceptual problems and generalizing classical conditioning up the brain stem, through the limbic system, and into the gray mush of "concepts". Macevoy (talk) 22:03, 15 March 2008 (UTC)

Aversion Therapy

Might be appropriate to mention Clockwork Orange. Is this sort of therapy actually DONE anymore? Any Clinicians in the house? It seems totally unethical. It strikes me as something that "psychologists" would use to "cure homosexuality". (<--biased opinions allowed in the talk section, eh? ;))

It's always good to know whom I'm talking to, so please sign your posts using the four tildes (~~~~).
As you can read in the article on Aversion therapy, it is still used. For example alcoholics can take a medicine that makes them really sick if they would drink. The article on aversion therapy also refers to Clockwork Orange. I don't think "Classical conditioning" needs to mention this movie (too specific). However, I think the paragraph on aversion therapy needs to be rewritten and I might just do that myself. Maybe not tonight though. Lova Falk 18:04, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Little Albert

This whole section really belongs under Fear conditioning with a link to the Little Albert experiment.--Dentate 05:14, 15 August 2007 (UTC)


The main page has no fluidity. After the description of Pavlov's experiment it is probably best to have a brief description of classical conditioning as it has been applied to the human condition. This will demonstrate the relevance and importance to the average reader. For example, you could discuss behavior therapy, systematic desensitization, etc. After this, the majority of the rest of the page should discuss theories of classical conditioning. Here you could discuss theories of Rescorla, Wagner, etc. --Dentate 05:14, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

Here is a little list of information that needs to be added with descriptions of each:

Types of Classical Conditioning

Forward Conditioning

The onset of the CS precedes the onset of the US. Three common forms of Forward Conditioning are: Short-delay, Long-delay, and Trace.

Short-delay Conditioning

The onset of the US is delayed relative to the onset of the CS. In this procedure, the CS may completely overlap with the US, or the CS may terminate at some point before the US offset. The term "short" refers to the Interstimulus interval (ISI), and is determined by the type of classical conditioning. For example, in some forms of classical conditioning, such as Eyeblink conditioning, ISIs in the range of 100 to 750 msec are typically considered short. In other forms of classical conditioning, such as in Taste aversion, ISIs in the range of minutes to 1 or 2 hours are considered short.

Long-delay Conditioning

In this procedure, the onset of the US is still delayed relative to the onset of the CS, but ISIs are longer than in the Short-delay Procedure. While the difference between Short and Long may appear trivial, the distinction is important because some forms of conditioning are best learned with a long delay, while others are best learned with a short delay.

Trace Conditioning

The CS and US do not overlap. Instead, the CS is presented, a period of time is allow to elapse during which no stimuli are presented, and then the US is presented. The stimulus free period is called the trace interval.

Simultaneous Conditioning

The CS and US are presented at the same time.

Backward Conditioning

The onset of the US precedes the onset of the CS.

Temporal Conditioning

The US is presented at regularly timed intervals, and CR acquisition is dependent upon correct timing of the interval between US presentations. The background, or context, can serve as the CS in this example.

Unpaired Conditioning

The CS and US are not presented together. Usually they are presented as independent trials that are separated by a variable, or pseudo-random, interval. This procedure is used to study non-associative behavioral responses, such as Sensitization.

CS-Alone Extinction

The CS is presented in the absence of the US. This procedure is usually done after the CR has been acquired thought Forward Conditioning training. Eventually, the CR frequency is reduced to pre-training levels.

Variations of Classical Conditioning Procedures

In addition to the simple procedures described above, some classical conditioning studies are designed to tap into more complex learning processes. Some common variations are discussed below.

Classical Discrimination/Reversal Conditioning

In this procedure, two CSs and one US are typically used. The CSs may be the same modality (such as lights of different intensity), or they may be different modalities (such as auditory CS and visual CS). In this procedure, one of the CSs is designated CS+ and its presentation is always followed by the US. The other CS is designated CS- and its presentation is never followed by the US. After a number of trials, the organism learns to discriminate CS+ trials and CS- trials such that CRs are only observed on CS- trials.

During Reversal Training, the CS+ and CS- are reversed and subjects learn to suppress responding to the previous CS+ and show CRs to the previous CS-.

Classical ISI Discrimination Conditioning

This is a discrimination procedure in which two different CSs are used to signal two different Interstimulus intervals. For example, a dim light may be presented 30 seconds before a US, while a very bright light is presented 2 minutes before the US. Using this technique, organisms can learn to perform CRs the are appropriately timed for the two distinct CSs. --Dentate 15:14, 16 August 2007 (UTC)

Latent Inhibition Conditioning

In this procedure, a CS is presented several times before paired CS-US training commences. The pre-exposure of the subject to the CS before paired training slows the rate of CR acquisition relative to organisms that are not CS pre-exposed. Also see Latent inhibition for applications.--Dentate 15:14, 16 August 2007 (UTC)

Conditioned Inhibition Conditioning

Three phases of conditioning are typically used:

Phase 1:
A CS (CS+) is paired with a US until asymptotic CR levels are reached.
Phase 2:
CS+/US trials are continued, but interspersed with trials on which the CS+ in compound with a second CS, but not with the US (i.e., CS+/CS- trials). Typically, organisms show CRs on CS+/US trials, but suppress responding on CS+/CS- trials.
Phase 3:
In this retention test, the previous CS- is paired with the US. If conditioned inhibition has occurred, the rate of acquisition to the previous CS- should be impaired relative to organisms that did not experience Phase 2.


This form of classical conditioning also involves three phases.

Phase 1:
A CS (CS1) is paired with a US.
Phase 2:
CS1 is presented in compound with a new CS (CS2), and the compound is paired with the US.
Phase 3:
CS2 is paired with the US. Blocking is measured as an impairment in the rate of learning to CS2 relative to organisms that did not experience Phase 2. Essentially, acquisition to CS2 is blocked during compound training because CRs had already formed to CS1.

Second Order Conditioning

Sensory Preconditioning

Conditional Discrimination

All of this should go after a history of CC section and before any discussion of learning theory. Actually, now that I think of it, discussions of learning theories should really have their own wiki entries. They are far too involved to be relevant on this page.--Dentate 13:15, 16 August 2007 (UTC) </nowiki>

Difficulty of introduction

I was hoping to link through to this page from the article on electronic dog control collars, but I fear most readers won't understand the dense text in the introduction, let alone the jargonistic nature of the rest of the article. Whilst I appreciate its scientific (and therefore precise) nature, the article reads as if it were written by doctorate students in psychology: would it be possible to make at least the introduction a bit more readable to your average, non-psychology graduate reader? kabl00ey 22:50, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

Dense and jargonistic indeed, though I wouldn't say it's particularly precise (or, more importantly, concise). I commented below on this very issue. I stopped short of slapping a cleanup tag on the article, but it definitely needs a huge amount of work in the readability department. Fuzzform (talk) 21:19, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
I suppose this is my fault. I revised the introduction because it looked like a child wrote it. Aside from obvious errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation, the basic information was just wrong. I'll think about how to make it more clear to every reader. The other thing is, regarding the shock collar, you might consider linking to operant conditioning instead. You see, in Classical conditioning, the animal has absolutely no control over the stimuli. In Operant conditioning, the punishments and rewards are completely under the control of the animal. So, if the dog simply learns not to bark, then it will avoid the shock. The animal can control the delivery of the shock by not barking.--Dentate 17:21, 15 November 2007 (UTC)

Being someone who never studied conditioning like this, the article is extremely difficult to understand. I don't consider myself a genious, but I do consider myself successfully educated on the low-college level at least. To write an article, I find it best to imagine a freshman in high school who never knew classical conditioning ever existed (or any conditioning) trying to read the article.

I'm pretty sure that's easier said than done, considering the nature and intellect of the topic, but this is an encyclopeida afterall -- general knowledge, with some room for deeper understanding and further study.

I'll give you an example: the very first few sentences. I don't know what associative learning is. I didn't know "classical conditioning" was something that could be demonstrated.

"The typical procedure for inducing classical conditioning involves presentations of a neutral stimulus along with a stimulus of some significance." -- This explains nothing to me. The introduction still hasn't explained what classical conditioning is, thus, inducing it into what, or how? There is a procedure for it? I can easily look it up, but I don't know what a "neutral stimulus" is either, although I am now hinted that "classical conditioning" has something to do with the mind.

Going to, I found out more information about classical conditioning in one paragraph than this entire page. "A process of behavior modification by which a subject comes to respond in a desired manner to a previously neutral stimulus that has been repeatedly presented along with an unconditioned stimulus that elicits the desired response." While this is still too complex (though an encyclopedia article has more room), I can now guess what a neutral stimulus is, and generally what the article is discussing. Colonel Marksman (talk) 20:31, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

Hi folks, I must agree that the lede is far too technical and verbose an explanation for a general encyclopedia article.
1- The use of abbreviations is confusing even to the professional reader,
2- The use of jargon and in-jokes e.g. the quote from Rescorla at the end is the wrong to tone to strike in the lede- jokey, appealing to a teen audience, not well-considered,
3- The lede makes no reference to behavior modification, which is what everyone calls it these days. The 1950s-Behaviorist (and very limited) idea of "learning theory" in complex organisms is not something people ascribe to these days unless they are strictly Behaviorists. Are there any left? Nowadays, learning theory takes into account emotion and cognition, which the older school did not. Also, neurobiologist have a lot to say on this subject today, something that psychologists are still way behind on.
4- It's far too long! 3 to 5 lines ought to be the limit.
I'm going to try to put something together in the next day or two. Please edit or revert if you feel this is going in the wrong direction. Laguna greg 21:54, 7 November 2014 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Laguna greg (talk • contribs)


Is it possible to better organize this page? As it stands, it is difficult to garner the basics of conditioning from the presented information. A simple diagram would help immensely. The many, many subsections describing variations on conditioning are mostly uninformative and are quite confusing; they need to be better organized. The massive list of sections and subsections is enough to turn off any non-expert's interest in the article. Fuzzform 21:15, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

section removed

Kpmiyapuram (talk) 18:49, 4 April 2008 (UTC) see previous discussion as some users suggested this section to be deleted

Neural structures involved in classical conditioning

{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||Expert-subject|date=__DATE__|$B= {{#invoke:Message box|ambox}}{{#invoke:Category handler|main}} }} Dopamine neurons in the pars compacta of substantia nigra and the medially adjoining ventral tegmental area show short, phasic activations after presentation of appetitive US. These phasic dopamine responses transfer to the onset of conditioned stimuli.<ref>W. Schultz Multiple reward signals in the brain. Nature Reviews Neuroscience 1:199-207, 2000</ref> It has been suggested that the ventral striatum corresponds to the critic and responds during both Pavlovian and instrumental conditioning and the dorsal striatum corresponds to the actor which mainly responds during operant conditioning.<ref>J.P. O'Doherty et al., Dissociable Roles of Ventral and Dorsal Striatum in Instrumental Conditioning. Science 304:452-454, 2004 </ref> Amygdala has long been associated with Pavlovian fear conditioning, but recent views suggest that amygdala also responds to appetitive stimuli.<ref>J. J. Paton et al. The primate amygdala represents the positive and negative value of visual stimuli during learning. Nature 439:865–870, 2006</ref> Neurons within the orbitofrontal cortex discriminate between visual stimuli that predict appetitive and aversive reinforcers <ref> J. O'Doherty et al. Abstract reward and punishment representations in the human orbitofrontal cortex. Nature Neuroscience 4:95-102,2001</ref> The cerebellum also appears to be involved in classical conditioning. Researchers demonstrated that lesions to pathways from the cerebellum stop the conditioned response, but do not stop the unconditioned response.<ref>R.F. Thompson: The neurobiology of learning and memory. Science 233:941-947, 1986</ref>

Talk:Classical conditioning sections
Intro  Untitled   Alpha conditioning    Apetite conditioning on snails    similar pages, combine?    Neural structures involved in classical conditioning    Main Article Links    Theories of classical conditioning    Merging two other articles    Aversion Therapy    Little Albert    Format    Difficulty of introduction    Organization?    section removed   Neural structures involved in classical conditioning  soft  Precursors to Pavlov?   The introduction is completely wrong    Types of classical conditioning    Classical Conditioning Graphic   Sterne's Locke    Criteria for a conditioned response   Konorski quote removal   Schmidt quote removal    Which year did Pavlov make his discovery in?    Moved redundant para to talk page   

Neural structures involved in classical conditioning
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