Learning is a continuous process of memorizing information and acquiring new habits or models of behavior in different situations. The central concepts of learning are reflexes, instincts, and associative learning, which help to explain how individuals acquire new habits and skills. The theories of learning within these concepts have been developed are behavioral and psychoanalytic. Human behavior is associated with conditional and unconditional reflex activity, a change in the organism’s relationship to the external environment. Higher nervous activity manifests itself in complex reflex reactions carried out with the obligatory participation of the cerebral cortex and the subcortical formations closest to it.
With an unconditional reflex, the behavioral reaction of the organism is innate, formed during the evolution of the species, and carried out with the help of the nervous system. Complex forms of animal behavior determined by a set of unconditional reflexes are called instincts. However, unconditional reflexes alone are not enough for the body to adapt to changing environmental conditions; conditioned reflexes are necessary. Conditioned reflexes are individually acquired systemic adaptive reactions of the body, formed based on a temporary connection between a conditioned stimulus and an unconditional reflex (Maltzman, 2021). Conditioned reflexes form the basis of education, upbringing, development of speech and thinking in a child, and social and creative activity of a person.
Associative learning refers to the process by which a person and other living beings establish a connection between phenomena so that they learn and react to these relationships. The processes of associative learning take place through experience. People’s experience teaches them what is beneficial and what is harmful. Although people do not always get the same results for the same actions, past events are reliable guides for future activities. Associative learning allows people to make predictions and establish new strategies based on obtaining information and establishing causal relationships. People can connect ideas, concepts, and thoughts to develop new knowledge without being subjected to actual stimulation.
Maltzman, I. (2021). Orienting reflexes and classical conditioning in humans. In The orienting reflex in humans (pp. 323-351). Routledge.