Table of contents
About this book
A method of behavioral control which utilizes nutritive sucking as the operant has been evolved in our laboratory. Using this technique we studied the role of arousal and learning in the development of environ mental control over earliest feeding behavior. Few of the infants in our studies were able to coordinate their sucking behavior to arbitrary operant-discrimination schedules, but when the individual pattern of suck ing was taken into consideration, some infants rapidly adapted to the reinforcement schedule. Data from various reinforcement schedules suggest that earliest mothering involves a mutual adaptation in which the nurturing environment approximates and then entrains the infant's feeding behavior by a perceptive manipulation of the infant's state of arousal. Coordination between the infant and its environment sets the stage for associative learning, which develops following maturation of the infant's discriminative and response capacities. The process of behavioral acquisition begins with unconditioned feeding responses, which are transformed into complex learned behavior through the mediation of an appropriately reinforcing environment. The infants studied showed individual differences in susceptibility to environmental control and in response to frustration. The relative importance of arousal and learning as determinants of infant behavior are discussed and a hypothetical model for the earliest mother-infant relationship is proposed.
Laboratory adaptation behavior brain development electroencephalography (EEG) memory nervous system neurophysiology pharmacology physiology psychiatric disorder therapy