Associative Learning and Conditioning: Training the Brain

How does a dog know to sit? Or a child know to be polite? The process of learning, whether through observation or associations made in the brain that can stick for life, helps animals and humans to acquire new behaviours. This video takes us through associative learning, training the brain to link certain events or stimuli together during a process known as conditioning.

Conditioning is taking an unconditioned stimulus and linking it with a neutral stimulus, so eventually either on their own will produce the same natural response. The simplest form of this is classical conditioning, such as Pavlov’s famous dog saliva experiment. Operant conditioning is the reinforcement of positive behaviours with rewards and negative behaviours with a negative response, but not necessarily a punishment.

Through the various forms of conditioning, we can study behaviourism focused on observable outcomes rather than the internal mental processes behind them.

From Crash Course: Psychology on YouTube presented by Hank Green