Essay Example on Previously conducted behavioural experiments on Animals









Tolman 1948 a field theorist corroborates his theoretical position by discussing previously conducted behavioural experiments on animals Prior to discussing these experiments it is important to note that the cognitive theory only holds under two pivotal assumptions Firstly the nervous system in animals plays an active and discriminatory role in the face of multiple stimuli Secondly cognitive maps range from a narrow strip style to a broader comprehensive style p 192 Bearing that in mind the experiments highlighted by Tolman 1948 are discussed below The stimulus response theory regards reinforcement as an indispensable element in the learning process Latent Learning conceptualized by Blodgett 1929 challenges this claim Tolman 1948 In addition to Blodgett 1929 pioneering the concept he performed the first ever experiment in relation to it His subjects were three groups of rats comprising of one control group and two experimental groups Each group underwent differential treatment but performed trials in the same environment a six unit alley maze 

The control group of rats underwent one trial a day and found food in the goal box at the end of each trial On the other hand the two experimental groups of rats first found food at the end of the maze on the seventh and third day respectively and continued to find it on the subsequent days The results revealed that the control group committed more mistakes and took more time in finding the food in the goal box as compared to the two experimental groups This was on account of the fact that the experimental groups had a period of non rewarded trials during which they were able to develop a cognitive map of the maze This learning i e formation of cognitive map is referred to as Latent Learning and it only manifests itself when a motivating factor in this case food is introduced Generally rats find themselves in a dilemma at choice point before making a decision towards where they are headed Professor Muenzinger 1938 coined this phenomenon as Vicarious Trial and Error abbreviated as VTE This phenomenon is depicted in the experiment carried out by Geier Levin and Tolman 1941 The experimental set up includes a jumping stand facing two visually distinct doors 

One of these two doors is always regarded as the correct choice Furthermore there always lies food behind the correct door while the incorrect door has a landing platform which enables the rat to jump back again and start over The rats were to carry out two tasks i e to choose between a black or white door and between a white or grey door It was observed that rats possessed the tendency to VTE more and learn sooner when they had to choose between a between a black or white door lower difficulty level as compared to white or grey door higher difficulty level This may seem odd for a great majority of humans as we possess the tendency to VTE more while making a difficult choice However rats aren t humans and humans aren t rats Tolman 1948 believes rats are oblivious to what is expected of them and it is completely natural for them to be enticed by stark discrepancies i e black and white rather than faint discrepancies Lastly the action of VTE ing further proves that animals are effective in identifying differences between stimuli which is of critical importance in forming a cognitive map p 196 Intrigued Hudson 1950 tested if rats could learn an avoidance reaction to a certain physical stimulus in a single trial The subjects were put individually in a living cage with food put on a small striped visual pattern at the end and an electric shock would be given to it as soon as it touched the cup with the food in it Days or even weeks after when the rat was put back in the same cage it would have a strong aversion towards the visual pattern 

This brings up to the question of whether rats passively succumb to all the physical stimuli present or actively determine the physical stimuli causing an effect Tolman 1948 Taking this into account Hudson 1950 improvised the experiment by switching all the lights off as soon as the electric shock occurred Interestingly it was discovered that majority of the rats establish the association only after they ve been shocked The rats in the following experiment failed to develop an avoidance reaction completely or selected alternative physical stimuli present Thus it stands to reason that rats do possess the ability to build a cognitive map and one of the ways it does is by actively selecting from physical stimuli present D Krech 1932 through his experiment proved that rats have the potential to solve a problem in a logical and sequential manner He used a four compartment discrimination box and designed it in such a way that the correct door at each choice point is either lighted or dark left or right or different combinations of these It was discovered that a rat works through this insolvable maze in an efficient and methodical manner i e it decides to go through every left handed door every right handed door and subsequently every lighted and dark door Its determination to test each of the 40 choices is termed as hypotheses In any case rats are truly active information processors who initiate learning independently Tolman 1948

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