Cognitive Maps in Rats and Men
Edward Chance Tolman made many significant findings to the studies of learning , memory and motivation. By today's standards he would be considered a behaviorist. “He is best remembered for being a pioneer in cognitive psychology during a time when behaviorists dominated the field. Tolman made several significant contributions to the field of psychology. At Berkeley University he created a cognitive theory of learning, which became his trademark to the field. He thought of learning as developing from bits of knowledge and cognition about the environment and how the organism relates to it “(Kimble et al, 1991).
Tolman's experiment questions whether complex internal cognitive activity occurs in an organism, whether these mental processes could be studied without observing them directly. He hypothesized that because humans live in an environment full of obstacles,tools and paths, he theorize that humans must be using those things in a purposive way. He used rats in his experimentation because he believed that rats have a type of stimulus response system akin to humans. to explain that organisms are capable of creating useful cognitive maps. His aim was to observe the complexity of those cognitive maps, and to indicate the significance of these findings on rats for the behavior of humans. Tolman's version of behaviorism emphasized the relationships between stimuli and the organism rather than stimulus-response. Instead of an SR (Stimulus-Response) theory, Tolman pioneered the SOR (Stimulus-Organism-Response) theory. This theory states that a behavior is initiated by things from within the organism's environment
According to Tolman, a new stimulus or sign becomes associated with already meaningful stimuli. New stimuli becomes significant through a series of pairings; essentially saying that there is no need for reinforcement in order to facilitate learning. In his studies of rats, Tolman aimed to demonstrate that animals could learn facts about the world that they could subsequently use in a flexible manner, rather than simply learning automatic responses that were triggered off by environmental stimuli.
According to Tolman cognitive maps are tools we use to construct and store spatial knowledge, they allow the mind to visualize images in order to reduce cognitive load, and enhance recall and learning of information. It is this map that indicates paths and environmental relationships, which inevitably determines what responses the organism will make .Tolman noted that learning involves the learner's creation of cognitive maps or internal schemas, that are not specifically, directly or instantly tied to performance. This means that new concepts are learned but not necessarily put into action immediately. This is the basic principle of latent learning , a theory which leads Tolman away from behaviorism and toward cognitive behaviorism. Cognitive behaviorism states that there is a purpose for all of...