Brooklyn College- CUNY
Presidential Address: On the Richness of Pavlovian Learning
The study of Pavlovian learning provides us with a rich framework for understanding the psychological and neural mechanisms of rudimentary associative/cognitive and emotional processes. At the heart of the phenomenon is the simple idea that stimuli serve as cues that enable organisms to anticipate future events. However, just what is meant by the term “anticipate” is subject to varied interpretations. I will suggest that much research illustrates that Pavlovian cues can cause changes in emotional and motivational states, have direct influence on perception, convey specific meaning about various cognitive dimensions of stimuli (what they are, when they should occur, and where they will occur), and that learning about these distinct dimensions may involve distinct underlying processes. Furthermore, I will also suggest that connectionist modeling can serve as an important tool to further our understanding of more complex context-dependent forms of learning. In short, Pavlovian learning continues to be a ripe area of research that lies at the intersection of several different research domains spanning different levels of analysis.