Learning

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Learning is getting information, knowledge, behaviours, skills or values into your brain. All animals that have a nervous system, and some machines, can learn.

There are a number of different types of learning: [1]

  1. Classical conditioning: where two stimuli come together, the organism learns they are related.
  2. Operant conditioning: an organism changes its behaviour when behaviour has consequences.
  3. Play: an inherited mechanism whereby mammals speed up learning in the young.
  4. Gestalt learning: learning by insight
  5. Imitation, emulation or observational learning: mimicking the behaviour of others
  6. Implicit learning or unconscious learning: learning which is done without conscious awareness of the learning process.
  7. Imprinting: a very rapid type of early learning.

Learning may occur as a result of habituation or classical conditioning, seen in many animal species, or as a result of more complex activities such as play, seen only in relatively intelligent animals.[2][3] Learning may occur consciously or without conscious awareness. There is evidence for human behavioral learning prenatally, in which habituation has been observed as early as 32 weeks into gestation, indicating that the central nervous system is sufficiently developed and primed for learning and memory to occur very early on in development.[4] According to James Zull, Professor of Biology and Biochemistry at Case Western University, "Learn­ing is phys­i­cal. Learn­ing means the mod­i­fi­ca­tion, growth, and prun­ing of our neu­rons, connections—called synapses—and neu­ronal net­works, through expe­ri­ence".

References[change | edit source]

  1. Hilgard E.H. & Bower G.D. 1981. Theories of learning. 5th ed, Appleton-Century-Crofts, New York.
  2. Jungle gyms: the evolution of animal play
  3. What behavior can we expect of octopuses?
  4. Sandman, Wadhwa, Hetrick, Porto & Peeke. (1997). Human fetal heart rate dishabituation between thirty and thirty-two weeks gestation. Child Development, 68, 1031–1040.

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