A snippet on habituation

Habituation has been in the behavioural news recently. Victor Ros has researched the subject in depth and produced his graduate thesis on this fascinating and much discussed phenomenon. Read his thoughts here; includes a link to his thesis.

Wild Equus

Habituation is one of those terms habitually (see I did it again) used in training and experimental protocols. Trouble is, it is so overused and underdefined that its significance has been frayed at the edges, and is used by most as a term that means having gotten used to something.

Whether you are training horses, dogs or rats, or working with these in laboratory or field experiments, the importance of habituation is underestimated in most cases.

Some proponents define habituation as a waning of response to repeated presentations of a single stimulus, while others would argue that it would only be so if the stimulus was not followed by a second reinforcing or punishing stimulus.

It is almost as if depending on your worldview and the justification you need for your methods or protocols, habituation per se would acquire a distinct definition in almost every case. Having said that most…

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