Impact of Stimulants on Conditioning Behavior
The process of learning or conditioning is a complicated process that involves many facets of the organism that is involved. Generally, it can be assumed that particular aspects of the organism greatly impact the efficiency of a particular learning procedure. Thus, the environment in which the learning takes place along with the stimuli and reinforcement utilized may hinder as well as facilitate the degree to which an organism is conditioned. The state of the organism’s nervous system is also at issue in that if the nervous system is not functioning optimally, it may cause the conditioning or learning process to be hindered in unique or unusual ways. For example, if the organism is under the influence of a drug that has psychoactive properties, it may impact the organism’s ability to function as it might typically do so during a conditioning procedure.
This is further complicated by the fact that drugs, which have psychoactive properties, may also be highly desired by the organism, which further impacts its nervous system. In other words, an organism may ingest a drug which changes the state of the nervous system, and in doing so creates a desire for additional quantities of the drug, which further impacts the nervous system. Consequently, the drug itself continuously effects the ability of the organism to learn. Thus, the use of conditioning paradigms enables the researcher to have a better understanding of the impact of a particular drug on the overall learning behavior of an organism. One such class of drugs that appears to operate in this manner is stimulants. The purpose of this paper is to review some of the research regarding the impact of stimulants on the learning or conditioning behavior of rats.