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INSTRUCTOR: So how do we learn what we know?
A way to think about all that you have learned
is to compare yourself to how you were as a baby.
Think about yourself now, and think about yourself
as an infant.
What do you know now that you did not know as a baby?
Well, you know many things.
That includes how to talk, how to walk, how to read,
how to do math.
You know things about science, about history.
You know your own beliefs, what matters to you, how
to behave with other people.
These are all things that came from one of two places.
They were either in your genes when you were born,
or you learned them through the experiences
that changed who you are.
So what do we want from learning?
We want to know how to predict the future
on the basis of past experience so we can make
good decisions for ourselves.
And we also want to imbue the world with meaning.
If we hear a word that we do not know as an infant,
we want to know what it means as an adult.
There are two kinds of learning that we can think about.
One is called associative learning,
learning where one thing predicts another thing.
A simpler form of learning is non-associative learning.
That simply increases or decreases our response
to something in our environment.
So one form of simple non-associative learning
is habituation where we reduce our response
to a repeated environmental stimulus.
Let's say you move into an apartment which
has much more street traffic than you're used to.
At first, the noises wake you up.
But over time, you get used to it, or you habituate to it,
and you respond less to that noise
and get a better night's sleep.
Another form of non-associative learning is the opposite.
It's called sensitization where you have an enhanced response
to a repeated environmental stimulus.
Let's say you just watched a really scary horror movie.
Now you're in your bed, and late at night you hear sounds.
Previously, they didn't bother you,
but now they wake you up in a bit of fright and terror.
That would be sensitization, a form
of non-associative learning.