, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 631-642
Date: 29 Jan 2013

What is learning? On the nature and merits of a functional definition of learning

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Learning has been defined functionally as changes in behavior that result from experience or mechanistically as changes in the organism that result from experience. Both types of definitions are problematic. We define learning as ontogenetic adaptation—that is, as changes in the behavior of an organism that result from regularities in the environment of the organism. This functional definition not only solves the problems of other definitions, but also has important advantages for cognitive learning research.