NSCS 344, Week 4

Reinforcement Learning

In this section of the class we are going to switch our focus from perceptual decision making to learning from reward and punishments - aka reinforcement learning.
The classic example of reinforcement learning comes from one of the famous experiments in all of Psychology - the classical conditioning experiments of Pavlov and his dogs.
In this experiment Pavlov paired the ringing of a bell with the presentation of food (a reward). After a while, the dogs learned to associate the food reward with the bell and would salivate upon hearing the bell, even if no food was actually given.
Indeed, this experiment is so famous that one of the best descriptions of Classical Conditioning comes from a TV show. Check out this clip from the "The Office" (https://vimeo.com/35754924 )