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Neurofunctionalism Revisited: Learning is More Than You Think It Is

  • Author(s): Grau, James W.
  • Joynes, Robin L.
  • et al.
Abstract

Studies of learning in simple systems (invertebrates and spinal cord) have revealed that organisms can encode stimulus-stimulus (Pavlovian) and response-outcome (instrumental) relations in multiple ways. It is suggested that nonassociative mechanisms contribute to learning and that there is value in adopting an approach that details the neural-functional mechanisms involved. Reactions to this approach are discussed. The link between the methods of Pavlov and associative (“true”) learning is deeply ingrained and, some believe, should be maintained. We suggest that there is value in dissociating the concepts and seek to clarify the implications of a neurofunctionalist approach to learning. It is argued that a neural-functionalist approach provides a better framework for integrating behavioral and neurobiological observations.

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