Eyeblink conditioning

From Academic Kids

Eyeblink conditioning is a form of classical conditioning in which animals are trained to blink in response to a tone. Typically, the tone is played just before a puff of air to the eyelid. This results in the animal blinking. Eventually, the animal blinks in response to the tone alone.

For example, many optometrists have machines which put a puff of air in the eye that patients are required to have done to both eyes. There is often a soft ticking sound in the machine prior to the puff of air. The patient is to sit leaning on the chin rest and is instructed to refrain from blinking until the air has been blown. The puff of air causes an individual to blink. However, because the ticking sound precedes the air, patients will soon learn to blink when the ticking sound is heard. In this scenario, the original puff of air is the unconditioned stimulus and the blinking from that air is the unconditioned response. The ticking is originally a neutral stimulus; however when placed in association with the air, the ticking soon becomes a conditioned stimulus that elicits a conditioned response, the blinking.

"Extinction" occurs when, after training, the tone is played alone. Eventually the animal stops responding.

The vestibulo-ocular reflex has similar circuitry. Both forms of motor learning depend on the cerebellum.

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