Factors Determining the Effectiveness of Classical Conditioning

In addition to food induced salivation other reflexes commonly used include access to an opposite-sex conspecific in order to condition courtship behavior in birds, eye- blinks (or nictitating membrane closure in animals like rabbits) elicited by puffs of air directed at the eye, leg-withdrawal from electric shock, together with the more complex constellation of 'fear' reactions to shock such as changes in skin-conductivity (galvanic skin response, GSR), changes in heart-rate and suppression of ongoing behaviors (when these responses are conditioned they are known as a conditioned emotional response - CER), the reflexive pecking which food elicits in birds, or the gagging and nausea which the flavour of a poisonous food comes to elicit. It must be emphasised that the these reflexes may exist in some species but not others. Given an effective US, however, there are still many factors which influence conditioning a particular CS using it.

This document has been restructured from a lecture kindly provided by R.W.Kentridge.