Learning And Cognition Essay

766 WordsMay 10, 20114 Pages
Introduction to Cognition Paper University of Phoenix PSY 390 Esther Siler-Colbert February 28, 2011 According to Gregory A. Kimble, learning is a relatively permanent change in behavior that is the result of practice and reinforcement (Olson, 2009). Learning happens anytime a behavior is affected by stimuli, reinforcement, and punishment for a long-term period of time. Although Kimble’s definition is disputed within the psychological community, researchers seem to agree that learning must be gauged by observable changes in behavior (Olson, 2009). Among the many definitions of learning widely accepted by psychologists, there lay common threads and rejected theories. The following is an analysis of learning, including different types of learning, behavior’s role in learning, and the relationship between learning and cognition. First, what does it mean for learning to be “relatively permanent?” Quite simply, learning cannot be a fleeting notion, as easily forgotten as it was remembered. However, one is capable of unlearning a behavior over a period of time, so learning cannot be considered entirely permanent. Eventually, the behavior associated with the learning might fade away. With this in mind, it would seem as though learning and behavior are one in the same. That is not the case. Learning is its own process. Behavior is the means by which psychologists are able to measure that process (Olson, 2009). Since changes in behavior can be observed with ease, it makes more sense to study behavior and then make inferences as to what that behavior means in terms of learning. This explanation is more complete when placed in the context of specific types of learning. Learning can also be referred to as conditioning, of which there are two kinds: classical and operant, or instrumental. Classical conditioning takes place when a subject subconsciously learns to

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