Aspects of Learning and Memory

Introduction

For the classical conditioning test, Option A is selected. The unconditioned stimulus is darkness or absence of light, and the unconditioned response is pupil dilation. The conditioned stimulus is the sound of a bell, and the conditioned response is pupil dilation as well. The idea behind the activity is to condition the pupil to dilate to the bell sound without darkness. It took twenty four repetitions of the conditioning in order to develop the pupil dilation response to the bell sound without darkness. The extinction took eighteen repetitions of the activity without darkness. The key challenge was finding a dark place and managing between holding the mirror, the bell, and switching the light. After the initial ten, the pupil dilation response was checked, but pupils did not dilate noticeably to the bell sound. Therefore, the next response check was done after twenty four repetitions, which resulted in a noticeable conditioned response. Pupils dilated without any darkness to the sound of the bell.

The main challenge was managing the switching of the lights and holding both the bell and mirror. Another issue was the difficulty of seeing the pupils in the mirror after the lights were turned on since it takes some time to adjust to the brightness. Therefore, the experiment is best conducted with a partner who was unavailable. However, higher-order conditioning can be utilized with the activity. It is stated that “in some cases, an existing conditioned stimulus can serve as an unconditioned stimulus for a pairing with a new conditioned stimulus — a process known as second-order (or higher-order) conditioning” (Walters, 2020, p. 267). For example, it is possible to put the bell into a plastic or paper bag, which makes a noise when interacting. Therefore, every time the bell needs to pull out to make a sound, the bag will generate a crumpling or rustling sound. By repeatedly exposing oneself to these secondary conditioned stimuli, one can achieve higher order conditioning, where pupils dilate to the crumpling or rustling of the bag because it expects the bell sound and darkness.

Operant Conditioning

In the case of Step 1, the identified bad habit is cuticle biting, which is similar to fingernail biting. It is a mild form of dermatophagia, where one engages in an obsessive-compulsive activity, which is harmful to the skin around fingernails and unhealthy as well as unclean. The observations for the first three days are presented in Table 1 below.

Step 1: Baseline
[cuticle biting]
Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
At what times did the behavior occur? For how long?
  • 19:13
  • 20:47
  • 21:50
  • 20:21
  • 20:58
  • 21:34
  • 19:34
  • 21:11
  • 21:45
What were you doing/thinking/feeling right before the behavior occurred?
  • Annoyance with a skin tag
  • Obsession with removal
  • Constant touching with other fingers
  • Annoyance with a skin tag
  • Obsession with removal
  • Constant touching with other fingers
  • Annoyance with a skin tag
  • Obsession with removal
  • Constant touching with other fingers
What happened immediately after the behavior?
  • Satisfaction
  • Tiredness
  • Hand washing
  • Satisfaction
  • Tiredness
  • Hand washing
  • Satisfaction
  • Tiredness
  • Hand washing

In the case of Step 2, the observation revealed that the key antecedent circumstances involve me sitting in front of my computer alone during the evening. The behavior starts with me noticing and constantly touching a skin tag near my fingernail, which is due to constant cuticle biting. It generates an obsessive behavior with the skin tag, mostly unconscious, to remove it with other fingers first. If it fails or leaves another skin tag, biting is used to remove it. The consequences involve satisfaction with removal, tiredness in fingers, and bite muscles due to meticulousness of activity. In addition, there is a feeling of disgust and uncleanliness, which leads to hand and mouth washing.

Alternative behavior would be to use cuticle nippers to remove skin tags without using other fingers or mouth. The better alternative is to either seek out the help of a professional to remove all skin tags from previous biting sessions or ignore them completely. The reinforcement can include small treats and little purchases. Punishments can include turning off the computer, which would result in boredom and ruining of the relaxing and entertaining evening routine before going to bed.

In the case of Step 3, the observations of the plan implementation are presented in Table 2 below.

Step 3: Behavior Modification Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
Times when behavior occurred
  • 19:37
  • 20:50
The behavior did not occur
Punishments applied Turning off of the computer Turning off of the computer The punishment was too heavy, and it already ruined my two evenings
Time when behavior did notoccur when you wanted to Every moment after the punishment until the next evening Every moment after the punishment until the next evening. The first desire took place before 20:50, but I resisted The desire did occur through the evening, but I resisted and used nippers only
Alternates to behavior used Cuticle nippers used to remove the skin tag Cuticle nippers used to remove the skin tag Cuticle nippers used to remove the skin tag
Rewards for alternates I ordered a new mousepad I ordered fast food I ordered bigger water bottle

In sum, the plan was effective because the punishment was effective as well. Since cuticle biting took place when I was alone and during my evening routines in front of the computer, the removal of the device ruined my relaxing and entertaining evenings. It was effective not solely because of the removal of the habit but also due to being more aware of my urges and managing them properly with nippers because the turning off of the computer was a high price to pay for cuticle biting.

Memory Palace

The selected memory palace is centered around the structure of the eyeball, which was not used in other discussion posts at the time of selection and writing. The memory palace resembles my parents’ house, where I lived for most of my life. At the entrance, I am greeted by Andrew Bernard from The Office TV show wearing his Cornell shirt, which translates to the cornea. As soon as I enter the house, I am greeted by school children talking to their iPhones on Siri, which translates to Iris and pupils. Then I go to the kitchen area, where I see my mother wearing eyeglasses with the Mercedes Benz symbol on them to remind me of the lens. Afterward, I go to the living area and picture a blind person smoking marijuana, which translates to the blind spot. When I go upstairs, I am greeted by my father, who says that he loves me forever to remind me about fovea. After entering my room, I see the sign that says ‘re-enter,’ which translates to the retina. Lastly, I lay down at my bed, and my partner flies in through the window and shouts at me, “you have a nerve not to call me,” reminding me of the optic nerve. Using my parents’ house as a template or memory palace, I am able to remember all the key structures of the eyeball due to the association of the unfamiliar information with familiar spatial and visual memories (Foer, 2012). I was able to remember all structures even after four days of not practicing.

References

Foer, J. (2012). Feats of memory anyone can do [Video]. TED. Web.

Walters, S. (2020). Psychology (1st Canadian edition). Pressbooks.

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PsychologyWriting. 2023. "Aspects of Learning and Memory." April 3, 2023. https://psychologywriting.com/aspects-of-learning-and-memory/.

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