respondent conditioning

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1. in physical medicine, improvement of physical health by a program of exercises; called also physical conditioning.
2. in psychology, a form of learning in which a response is elicited by a neutral stimulus which previously had been repeatedly presented in conjunction with the stimulus that originally elicited the response. Called also classical or respondent conditioning.

The concept had its beginnings in experimental techniques for the study of reflexes. The traditional procedure is based on the work of Ivan P. Pavlov, a Russian physiologist. In this technique the experimental subject is a dog that is harnessed in a sound-shielded room. The neutral stimulus is the sound of a metronome or bell which occurs each time the dog is presented with food, and the response is the production of saliva by the dog. Eventually the sound of the bell or metronome produces salivation, even though the stimulus that originally elicited the response (the food) is no longer presented.

In the technique just described, the conditioned stimulus is the sound of the bell or metronome, and the conditioned response is the salivation that occurs when the sound is heard. The food, which was the original stimulus to salivation, is the unconditioned stimulus and the salivation that occurred when food was presented is the unconditioned response.

Reinforcement is said to take place when the conditioned stimulus is appropriately followed by the unconditioned stimulus. If the unconditioned stimulus is withheld during a series of trials, the procedure is called extinction because the frequency of the conditioned response will gradually decrease when the stimulus producing the response is no longer present. The process of extinction eventually results in a return of the preconditioning level of behavior.
aversive conditioning learning in which punishment or other unpleasant stimulation is used to associate negative feelings with an undesirable response.
classical conditioning conditioning (def. 2).
instrumental conditioning (operant conditioning) learning in which a particular response is elicited by a stimulus because that response produces desirable consequences (reward). It differs from classical conditioning in that the reinforcement takes place only after the subject performs a specific act that has been previously designated. If no unconditioned stimulus is used to bring about this act, the desired behavior is known as an operant. Once the behavior occurs with regularity the behavior may be called a conditioned response.

The traditional example of instrumental conditioning uses the Skinner box, named after B. F. Skinner, an American behavioral psychologist. The subject, a rat, is kept in the box and becomes conditioned to press a bar by being rewarded with food pellets each time its early random movements caused it to press against the bar.

The principles and techniques related to instrumental conditioning are used clinically in behavior therapy to help patients eliminate undesirable behavior and substitute for it newly learned behavior that is more appropriate and acceptable.
physical conditioning conditioning (def. 1).
respondent conditioning conditioning (def. 2).
work conditioning a physical exercise program designed to restore specific strength, flexibility, and endurance for return to work following injury, disease, or medically imposed rest; it may be part of a complete work hardening program when other aspects of functional restoration are required.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.

re·spon·dent con·di·tion·ing

a type of conditioning, first studied by Pavlov, in which a previously neutral stimulus (bell sound) elicits a response (salivation) as a result of pairing it (associating it contiguously in time) a number of times with an unconditioned or natural stimulus for that response (food shown to a hungry dog).
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012


Ivan, Russian physiologist and Nobel laureate, 1849-1936.
Pavlov behavioral theory
pavlovian conditioning - a type of conditioning in which a previously neutral stimulus elicits a response as a result of pairing it a number of times with an unconditioned stimulus for that response. Synonym(s): respondent conditioning
Pavlov method - the method of studying conditioned reflex activity by the observation of a motor indicator, such as the salivary or electroencephalographic response.
Pavlov pouch - a section of the stomach of a dog used in studies of gastric secretions. Synonym(s): miniature stomach; Pavlov stomach
Pavlov reflex - peripheral vasoconstriction and a rise in blood pressure in response to a fall in pressure in the great veins. Synonym(s): auriculopressor reflex
Pavlov stomach - Synonym(s): Pavlov pouch
Pavlov theory of schizophrenia - belief that symptoms of schizophrenia result from an inhibited state of the cerebral cortex.
Medical Eponyms © Farlex 2012
References in periodicals archive ?
Phasic changes in skin resistance (SRRs) were used as the measure of respondent conditioning. In mathematical terms, skin resistance is simply the reciprocal of skin conductance (but see Roche & Barnes, 1995b) and is measured in [ohms/cm.sup.2].
A further 3 subjects were dropped from the study because they failed to show clear visual evidence of respondent conditioning within 36 conditioning trials (see respondent conditioning procedure above).
A cross-subject statistical analysis indicated that respondent conditioning emerged at significant levels on a one-tailed t test (t = 5.62; p = 0.002; see Figure 2).
In some situations the recording of an elicited response by a previously neutral stimulus is taken as evidence for respondent conditioning, and in other situations the recording of a change in response frequency is taken as evidence for operant conditioning.
However, respondent conditioning has been reliably demonstrated to occur in one direction only, so it is difficult to explain equivalence relations in this way without also assuming the acquisition of sample stimulus functions by matching comparisons, the parallel in respondent procedures being the acquisition of neutral stimulus functions by a US, a phenomenon for which there is little empirical support.
That functions transfer between stimuli that are temporally contiguous is not only a close parallel to the outcome of respondent conditioning procedures, it is identical.
The remaining difference between stimulus equivalence and respondent conditioning is the defining outcomes of both phenomena.
Moreover, respondent conditioning may be a special case of stimulus equivalence, one in which the transfer of eliciting functions can be observed, in one direction only.
In respondent conditioning, contiguity has been shown to be a necessary but not sufficient condition; stimuli must also be temporally correlated or contingent (Catania, 1992, pp.
The difficulties in specifying the nature and function of semantic meaning relations via respondent conditioning operations have been noted elsewhere (cf.
Rather, behavior analysts have described verbal behavior and emotive functions largely using operant learning principles (Hayes, 1991; Hayes & Wilson, 1994) and have dismissed an entire literature showing similar effects via respondent conditioning operations (e.g., Eifert, 1987; Jenkins, 1963; Martin & Levey, 1987; Staats, 1975; Staats & Eifert, 1990).
In fact, behavior analytic criticisms of semantic conditioning have been of basic respondent conditioning research with infrahumans and not of semantic conditioning - an issue we will return to later.