Learning and Cognition

Essay by Shawn1969College, UndergraduateA, October 2008

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According to B.R. Hergenhahn and Matthew H. Olson in the text An Introduction to Theories of Learning (2005) it states that learning is defined in The American Heritage Dictionary as; "To gain knowledge, comprehension, or mastery through experiences or study " (p. 3). Hergenhahn and Olson also stated that the more modern and excepted definition by Psychologist is the one by Kimble that states; "Kimble (1961, p.6), which defines learning as a relatively permanent change in behavioral potentiality that occurs as a result of reinforced practice " (p. 3). Even with these definitions learning still needs looked at as a change in behavior that is considered to be permanent and the behavior does not have to happen right after the learning but can occur with experience or practice and that it has to be reinforced (Hergenhahn, & Olson, 2005).

Types of LearningAccording to Hergenhahn and Olson the two different types of learning are caused by classical and instrumental conditioning.

Classical conditioning is a type of learning that is natural and automatic and is caused by an unconditioned stimulus. A good example of this type of learning that has been used many times is food, which is the unconditioned stimulus, when presented to an organism will cause an unconditioned response, which would be salivating. Now if a light was flashed every time the food was presented eventually the organism would salivate when the light was flashed even though the food was not present this type of stimulus is called conditioned and it causes a conditioned response (Hergenhahn, & Olson, 2005). The second type of learning is caused by instrumental conditioning, which is where the organism must behave or act in a certain way to acquirer something or avoid something. The avoidance action is associated with escape and avoidance conditioning. The...