Number of stimuli pairings in higher-order conditioning studies

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Conditioned emotional responses with Watson and Rayner’s work (1920) :

The first historically important study concerning this type of conditioning was Watson and Rayner’s work (1920), focused on the conditioned emotional responses (CER) in young humans. It should be noted here that this experimentation could no longer take place today because of the ethical and deontological issues it would rise. In that study, the child tested was the famous 11-month-old Little Albert, a nurse’s the son who was accustomed to the hospital environment. Before the initial experiment, the child had been determined to be « robust and stable » (Watson & Rayner, 1920), and that there was no fear observed as a result of presentation of rodents in the laboratory. Initially, the researchers struck a metal bar (US) with a hammer, causing the child to cry (UR). Then, a rat (NS) was introduced into the experiment. When Albert touched the rat, the experimenter hit the metal bar with the hammer causing Albert to cry. After several blocks of presentations, the presence of the rat (CS) alone elicited Albert’s tears and cries (CR). A few months later, Watson and Rayner placed again Albert in front of a rat, a rabbit, a dog, a fur coat and cotton wool. After each presentation of the rat, a negative emotional response was observed. The same conditioned fear was observed when the rabbit and the fur coat were individually presented to the child, while no negative emotional reaction appeared in the presence of the dog or the cotton wool. Watson and Rayner concluded that most fears conditioned in humans could be established and maintained in the long term by this type of learning. Studies of conditioned fear in species other than rats have raised many questions concerning Watson and Rayner’s work (1920). Harris (1979) reported some errors in the scientific literature concerning Watson and Rayner’s experimentation. For example, many studies referred to a conditioned fear of white items in the Watson and Rayner (1920) experiment, which was not presently the case (for example, see Helms & Turner, 1976). Although it is possible that such conditioned fears could have arisen from an overgeneralization of stimuli (Carr, 1925), it is difficult to be certain about it because of the lack of appropriate control conditions. Nevertheless, the report of Watson and Rayner demonstrated that conditioned fear initially neutral stimulus was possible as a result of pairings with unconditioned stimuli.

First experiments of first order and second order conditioning with Pavlov (1927) :

At the same time, Pavlov (1927) published in his renowned book Conditioned Reflexes the principles of Pavlovian conditioning by studying salivary responses in dogs. One of the most famous examples of first order conditioning concerns the sound of a metronome associated with food, eliciting alone the salivary response in the dog. Initially, the presence of food (US) caused the unconditioned response of salivation (UR). Then, a neutral sound (NS) from a metronome was presented before food delivery on successive trials. At tests, Pavlov (1927) observed the same conditioned salivary response (CR) to the mere presentation of the metronome (CS). Pavlov’s demonstration led to the view that a biologically significant outcome was necessary for conditioning to occur, despite the fact that conclusion currently going beyond the evidence. Specifically, to become a CS, Pavlov suggested that stimulus had to be a more important « biological determinant » than the US with which it was being paired. This implied that an effective outcome in conditioning had to be a « biological determinant » (i.e., an US capable of eliciting an UR).
In the framework of the experimental preparation described previously, Pavlov (1927) associated various NSs with the sound of the conditioned metronome (CS), causing these previously neutral stimuli to now elicit the same CR of salivation as the metronome. For example, a light (NS) paired with the conditioned metronome over several trials came to elicit conditioned salivation in the dog. Pavlov described this learning as second order conditioning (i.e., the lowest level of higher order conditioning). Then, another neutral stimulus such as the odor was paired with light several times, and came to elicit the same salivation response (i.e., third order conditioning). Pavlov observed a diminution of the saliva amount with each higher successively higher order of conditioning. Indeed, the saliva recovered in the cup after each test was less and less abundant after second order conditioning compared to first order conditioning.

Visual attention as a measure of attention :

Visual attention is a phenomenon that has been studied for over a hundred years. Its study was initially limited to the observation of eye movements and subsequently become more complex thanks to the development of modern engineering to measure and record foveal direction. In 1925, Von Helmholtz considered visual attention as an indispensable part of visual perception. More precisely, Von Helmholtz was interested in displacements of eye movements with respect to speficic spatial areas, thus suggesting that those movements were indicative of attention. Subsequently, James (1981) suggested that visual attention may reflect the intent and willingness to look at a specific item by the individual. Yarbus (1967) was one of the first to study ocular pursuits by presenting a scenic image to participants, who were subsequently asked questions about the scene. For each question, participants’ eye movements were recorded and the direction of their gaze varied according to the relevant information needed to answer the question asked to participants. These results are illustrated below in Figure 2. A picture located at the top left was the scene that participants had to observe and illustrated an excerpt from the daily life of a social group. For recording 1, participants were asked to view this scene freely. A large number of ocular pursuits throughout the picture area were then recorded. For recording 2, the participants had to estimate the socio-economic level of the characters. Yarbus (1967) found more eye fixations on the contextual cues during recording 2, with participants looking in part at the pictures on the wall of the image and tableware on the table in the image. For recording 3, the instruction was to estimate the age of the characters. Results showed that participants mainly looked at the characters’ faces before giving their estimates. Subsequently, the participants had to guess what the people in the image were doing before the arrival of the visitor (recording 4), remember their clothes (recording 5), the location of the characters and objects (recording 6) and estimate the time of the last visit of the guest (recording 7).

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Table of contents :

Remerciements
Résumé
Préambule/ Foreword
PART 1 : Elaboration of a SPC procedure without using any instructions in humans
CHAPTER 1 : INTRODUCTION
1. History of SPC
1.1.Conditioned emotional responses (Watson & Rayner, 1920)
1.2. First experiments of first-order and second-order conditioning (Pavlov, 1927)
1.3. SPC, emerged and developped through species
2. Visual attention and eye-tracking
2.1. Visual attention as a measure of attention
2.2. Uses of visual attention in paradigms
3. Anticipatory and avoidance responses in Pavlovian conditioning
3.1.Adaptative nature of anticipatory and avoidance responses
3.2.Focus on anticipatory responses
3.3. Focus on avoidance responses
CHAPTER 2 : CREATION OF A SPC PROCEDURE
1. Sensory preconditioning paradigm
2. Choice of CSs, US+, and US-
2.1. Choice of CSs
2.2. Choice of US+ and US-
2.3.Choice of the background on the computer screen
3. Time choices according temporal contiguity
3.1. Temporal coding hypothesis
3.2. In our experiment
4. Sensory preconditioning corpus
4.1.Phase 1
4.2.Phase 2
4.3.Test
5. Choice of measure (i.e. dependent variable)
5.1.Reaction times between CSs presentations and CR, and distance traveled by eye’s participants
5.2.Pupil diameters
5.3.Eye gaze
CHAPTER 3: SPATIAL CONTIGUITY AND SPC
1. Introduction
1.1.First-order conditioning and spatial contiguity
2. Method
2.1.Participants
2.2.Apparatus
2.3.Materials
2.4.Procedure
3. Results
3.1.Statistical issues
3.2.Statistical analysis
4. Discussion
CHAPTER 4 : NUMBER OF STIMULI PAIRINGS IN PHASE 1 OF SPC IN ADULTS
1. Introduction
1.1.Number of stimuli pairings in higher-order conditioning studies
1.2. In our experiment
2. Method
2.1.Participants
2.2.Materials
2.3.Procedure
3. Results
3.1. Statistical issues
3.2. Statistical analysis
4. Discussion
CHAPTER 5 : ROLE OF TRIAL REPETITION FOR ELDERLY
1. Introduction
1.1. Beneficial role of repetition
1.2.Repetition in elderly with dementia
1.3. In our experiment
2. Method
3. Results
3.1. Statistical issues
3.2. Statistical analysis
3.3.. Comparison between adults and seniors across 10 or 20 pairings presentations .
4. Discussion
General conclusion of Part 1
Résumés en français Part 1
PART 2 : Influence of verbal behavior on conditioned responding
CHAPTER 1 : INTRODUCTION
1. Development of verbal behavior in humans
1.1.Verbal behavior considered as an operant
1.2.Emergence of verbal behaviors in babies
1.3.Acquisition of verbal skills according Denney’s model (1982, 1984)
1.4.Development of verbal behaviors thanks operant procedures
2. Verbal strategies in the establishment of SPC
2.1.Influence of instructions in experimental tasks
2.2.Use of instructions in SPC procedures
3. Using an SPC task
3.1.Apparatus
3.2.Materials
3.3.Procedure
CHAPTER 2 : SPC IN NON VERBAL BABIES
1. Introduction
1.1.Demonstrations of associative learning in babies
1.2.Second-order conditioning in infants rats (Cheatle and Rudy, 1978)
2. Participants
3. Results
3.1.Statistical issues
3.2.Statistical analysis
4. Discussion
CHAPTER 3 : SPC IN NON VERBAL AND VERBAL AUTISTIC CHILDREN
1. Introduction
1.1.Joint attention and verbal behavior in autistic children
1.2.Categorization skills in autistic children
1.3.Associative learning in autistic children
1.4.In our experiment
2. Participants
3. Results
3.1.Statistical issues
3.2.Statistical analysis
4. Discussion
CHAPTER 4 : SPC AND DEMENTIA
1. Introduction
1.1.Respondent and operant conditioning and elderly with dementia
1.2.In our experiment
2. Participants
3. Results
3.1.Statistical issues
3.2.Statistical analysis
4. Discussion
CHAPTER 5 : SPC ACROSS AGES
1. Introduction
1.1.Piaget’s assumption about Development
1.2.Verbal strategies and developmental models
1.3. In our experiment
2. Participants
3. Results
3.1.Statistical issues
3.2.Statistical analysis
4. Discussion
Résumés en français Part 2
GENERAL DISCUSSION :
1. Summary and clinical applications
1.1. Resume of findings
1.2. Clinical applications
2. Limitations and critiques of our experimental task
3. Theoretical issues
3.1. Biologicial determinant” and individual survival
3.2. Compound stimulus and equivalence relations in the establishment of SPC
3.3. Reflexions about verbal strategies
Articles and Communications

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