A problem solving approach to visceral learning

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Roberts, Larry E.
Williams, Robert J.
Marlin, Richard G.
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An earlier paper in this series depicted visceral learning as a problem in concept identification in which subjects seek information about the visceral target (Roberts, Williams, Farrell, & Marlin. 1979). Concepts pertaining to this target are based initially upon procedural details of training and are modified as feedback identifies instances of the desired response. Evidence for this view was sought by examining verbal reports for the information about target responding that is presumably the product of a concept identification process. Accurate self-report was observed when subjects were successfully trained to produce either: 1) an increase and decrease in heart rate, or 2) lateralized changes (L > R and R> L) in skin conductance. Control of the response in the absence of accurate self-report was not observed in either training condition. The present paper describes an extended framework for the study of learning mechanisms. In this approach, a task statement is assumed to establish a problem space within which visceral learning proceeds. Major components of this space include: 1) a representation of task objectives. 2) initial concepts concerning effective strategies derived from the task statement and the subject's personal history, and 3) a processing system which is organized to acquire information about the response from feedback events. The processing system is seen as a construction which is determined uniquely for each learning procedure by processing requirements that are implicit in problem structure. The system organizes memory to receive information about the response and codes this information in a manner appropriate for production of the target in accordance with performance requirements of the task. This analysis suggested that within-subject training for two visceral targets with a transfer requirement (as in Roberts et al., 1979) might have favored identification of differences rather than similarities between the targets and encoding in a manner appropriate for recall without feedback as a retrieval cue. Consequently accurate self-report was assessed as a function of forewarning of transfer when subjects were trained to produce a single target alone. The purpose was to determine whether a problem-solving approach might identify processing conditions that favor veridical self-report following training on a feedback task. (Supported by A0132 from NSERC of Canada)
Abstract only. Permission to include in repository granted by Sally Byers, Permissions Assistant, Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Biofeedback training
Roberts, L. E., Williams, R. J., & Marlin, R. G. (1981). A problem solving approach to visceral learning (conference abstract). Psychophysiology, 18, 193.