Visceral learning as concept identification

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Roberts, Larry E.
Williams, Robert J.
Farrell, V. T.
Keleher, B.
Marlin, Richard G.
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Blackwell Publishing
Visceral learning may be depicted as a process in which subjects seek information about the behavioral goal. Concepts of this goal are based initially upon procedural details of training and are modified as feedback identifies instances of the target response. This approach was assessed by determining whether subjects were capable of describing activities associated with the visceral target after feedback training. Two groups were given visual feedback for changes in heart rate (HR) or lateralized skin conductance (LSC). The two visceral targets within each group (HR: inc/dec; LSC: L>R/R>L) were designated as Response A and Response B. Production of the response on A and B trials in the presence (Training) and absence (Transfer) of feedback was measured. After a one-hour session subjects were asked, without prior notification, to provide written reports describing what they did to control feedback on A and B trials. Awareness of the response was assessed by determining whether judges given the reports successfully identified the visceral target which was required on A and B trials for each subject. Awareness of activities related to feedback was also assessed by quantitative scales completed by the subjects after the written report. Awareness of the response was demonstrated on identification tasks for each experimental condition (HR and LSC). Furthermore, awareness (measured as probability ofcorrect identification) was significantly correlated with performance during Training and Transfer in the HR oroup, but this relationship was obtained only for Transfer in the LSC condition. Transfer without awareness was not observed in either group. Scale ratings did not differ between the visceral targets in either training condition. However, awareness was confirmed by significant correlations between these ratings and visceral performance for Training and Transfer in the HR group and for Transfer in the LSC group. These findings suggest that veridical concepts of the behavioral goal are formed during visceral learning. The concept-formation process appears important to Transfer but does not fully explain performance on feedback trials in the LSC experiment. (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., Farrell, V. T., Keleher, B., & Marlin, R. G. (1980). Visceral learning as concept identification (conference abstract). Psychophysiology, 17, 288-289.