Development of a normal behavior pattern requires genes. These genes code for the development of structures and organs involved in the behavior. For example, normal locomotion of vertebrates requires limbs. There are some genes of the limbs. But the normal development of limbs requires interaction with the environment of animals. This environment includes proper nourishment, water balance, and other factors. These factors maintained normal development.


Some behavior patterns appear only after a specific developmental stage or time. This stage or time is called maturation: The development of nervous system and other structures is completed during maturation. Therefore, the performance of the behavior pattern ‘improves. Its example is tail movement in frog embryos. Tail is developed in egg near hatching. But the embryo is present still in the egg membranes. It starts moving its tail inside the egg membrane. It looks as it is swimming in water. This movement coordination improves with time: These improved ‘movements are due to maturation.


The inherited behavior is called instincts. The change of behavior by life experiences is called learning. Many behavioral scientists have concluded that both instinct and, learning are important in animal behavior. Interaction of inherited and learned components develops a number of behavior patterns. There are following examples of interaction of instincts and learning.

  1. Young bobcats were kept in isolation. They had no chance to catch live prey.

A white rat was placed with them. They did not attack it. They attacked the rat only which it tried to escape. Their attacks were not efficient at first. But after some experience, they captured the prey by the neck and rapidly killed them. Thus learning refines inherited behavior. Learning occurs during play with

littermates under normal conditions.

  1. The nut cracking behavior of squirrels is an example of interaction of instincts

and learning. Squirrels gnaw (grind) and pry (throw on ground) to open a nut. Inexperienced squirrels are not efficient. They gnaw and pry randomly on the nut. Experienced squirrels gnaw a furrow on the broad side. Then they insert their lower incisors into the furrow and crack the nut open.


The attachment of a young animal toward another animal or object is called imprinting. The attachment is formed only during a specific critical period. This period is soon after hatching or birth. Imprinting is not reversible. Imprinting is a rapid learning process. It occurs without reinforcement.

Kcnrad Lorenz (1903-1989) conducted experiments on geese. He allowed the geese to imprint on him. The goslings (offspring of geese) followed him like their mother. Imprinting occurs in many species of birds. They young follow the parent soon after birth. They recognize their parents by imprinting. Then parents lead them to the nest or to water. Both visual and auditory cues (sign) are important in imprinting systems.


The change of behavior by life experiences is called learning. Learning is adaptive process. It allows an animal to respond quickly to .changes in its environment. The behavioral choices of an animal increases with learning. The learning ability correlates with the certain characteristics of its environment. Certain changes in the habitat occur regularly. They are predictable. The animal rapidly responds to a stimulus with instinctive behavior. An animal does not benefit from learning in this situation. But certain environmental changes are unpredictable. An animal may modify its behavioral responses through learning or experience in these changes. This modification is adaptive. It allows an animal to change its response to a given situation. It also improves its response to similar environmental changes.

There are different categories of learning. These are habituation (the simplest form of learning) to insight learning (the most complex form).

  1. HABITUATION (become used to)

The decrease in response to repeated or continuous stimulation is called habituation. Habituation is the simplest and most common type of behavior.

Some environments are constant and unimportant. An animal need not respond to stimuli in these environments. Therefore, it becomes habitual to unimportant stimuli. Habituation conserves energy and time of an animal. This energy can be spent on other important functions.

Examples                                                                                         •

  1. Birds learn to ignore .scarecrows (-.7L-Lr—P,I.‘-/-?,).1.-4.:E.c.i..,,A..1115,;Lij21). It previously caused them to flee.
  2. Squirrels in adjust themselves to the movements of humans and automobiles in city park. Phys logy of habituation

The  response returns rapidly with removal, of stimulus. Habituation does not involve any conditioning. Habituation is controlled through the central nervous system. It is different from sensory adaptation. Sensory adaptation is repeated stimu ation of receptors. Finally, these receptors stop responding, For example, one erson enters a room. He feels unusual odor in the room. His olfactory sens organs soon sto0 responding to these odors.




Pain i g of an irrelevant stimulus with a natural primary stimulus that produces an automatic response is called classical conditioning. Classical con. boning was discovered by Russian physiologist, Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936). He performed experiment on the salivary reflex in dogs. Pavlov gave food to dog after the sound of a bell. The dogs were conditioned after a number of such presentations. They associated the sound of the bell with food. Now dogs can P101 ‘ e saliva with just the sound of the bell. The food was a positive stimulus for salivating behavior. But negative stimulus cannot condition responses.


Classical conditioning is very common in the animal kingdom. For example, the bird avoid certain brightly colored caterpillars (larvae of insects). These caterpillars have bad taste. The birds associate the color pattern with the bad tastes . Now they can also avoid animals with a similar color p :tern.


Th trial and error learning is called instrumental conditioning. The animals lea n during searching actions. These actions include walking and moving. For example, an animal finds food during these activities. The food reinforces the behavior. Therefore, the animal associates the reward with the behavior. This association is repeated several times.


A -tin a Skinner box is a classic example of instrumental conditioning. It was developed by B. F. Skinner (1904-1990). He placed the rat in the box. The rat started exploring the box, It moves all about the box. He by accident presses a lever. He is rewarded with a food pellet. Food rewards are provided each time the rat presses the lever. Therefore, the rat associates the reward with the behavior. The rat learns to press the lever to receive the reward. The animal is instrumental in this type of learning. It provides its own reinforcement.

Reinforcement (fed) shapes the behavior in instrumental conditioning. Finally, the animal learns to press the lever to obtain food.

Young animals try to learn new motor patterns. It is also an instrumental conditioning. The flight of young bird and play of young mammal improve coordination of certain movements. The practice during these activities develops behavior patterns in these animals.


Making associations without immediate reinforcement or reward is called latent learning. It is also called exploratory learning. The reward is not obvious. However, an animal is motivated to learn about its surroundings. Latent learning allows an animal to learn about its surroundings. Knowledge about home area of the animal is important for its survival. It enables the animal to escape from a predator or capture prey.


A rat is placed in a maze. The maze has no food or reward. The rat explores the maze slowly. Now food or another reward is provided. The rat quickly runs the maze to explore it. Thus some learning of the maze occurs. But this learning remains latent or hidden. The reinforcement (food) exposed this learning in future.



5 INSIGHT LEARNING (cethilL-1),1%”i&nixf)

The uses of cognitive or mental processes to associate experiences and solve problems is called insight learning. Examples

1. Wolfgang Kohler (1887-1967) performed experiments on chimpanzees. He

trained the chimpanzee to use tools for obtaining . food rewards. One chimpanzee was given some bamboo poles. These poles can be joined to

m e a longer pole. Some bananas were hung from the ceiling. The chimpanzee formed the longer pole. It used the pole to knock the bananas. The bananas fall on the floor of cage. The animal used insight learning to get the bananas.

-2. Jane van Lawick-Goodall observed chimpanzees in the wild environment. They were using tools to perform different tasks. For example, they use

Crumpled pi) leaves as a sponge for drinking water.

Similar Articles:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.