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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Operant/Classical Conditioning: Comparisons, Intersections and Interactions The 2014 Winter Conference on Animal Learning and Behavior Focus and Research Seminar Sessions

  • Author(s): Weiss, Stanley J.
  • Rosales-Ruiz, Jesús
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY' version 3.0 license

The Keynote Speaker at Winter Conference on Animal Learning and Behavior (WCALB) 2014 was Dr. Björn Brembs whose address was titled, Pavlovian and Skinnerian Processes Are Genetically Separable.  The essence of the address, that describes the research on which Dr. Brembs based this conclusion, is described below.  Articles in this issue representing the related Focus Session include:  The Many Faces of Pavlovian Conditioning by Dr. Jozefowiez, Pavlov + Skinner = Premack by Dr. Killeen, Evocation of Behavioral Change by the Reinforcer is the Critical Event in Both the Classical and Operant Procedures by Dr. Donahoe, On Choice and the Law of Effect by Dr. Staddon, Response-Outcome versus Outcome-Response Associations in Pavlovian-to-Instrumental Transfer:  Effects of Instrumental Training Context by Gilroy, Everett and Delamater, and The Instrumentally-Derived Incentive-Motivational Function by Dr. Weiss.  As a whole, they attempt to increase our contact with, and get at the essence of, what is actually happening with these operant and classical contingencies in the laboratory and nature.  The Research Seminar Session revealed the current tendency for explanations of behavior to be reduced to physiology, neuroscience, and genetics.  However, anti-reductionists saw shortcomings in this approach.  They recommended an interconnected holistic approach which shifts the focus away from the structure of discrete behaviors and toward examining the environment in which the behavior occurs and the consequences produced.  The distinction between structural and functional analysis points to a difficulty of integrating facts about behavior with other levels of analysis that requires our attention.


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