The effect of amphetamine on simple and complex paired-associates
Atkinson, Bobby Lee
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Hull (1943) integrated the concept of drive into his theory of learning. Although his theory is quite extensive, the principle elements of his theory are contained in the formula sEr = sHr X D - Ir. In this formula sEr is Reaction Potential, sHr is Habit Strength, D is Drive and Ir is Inhibition. Each element of this formula has several components which in turn become part of a larger formula. In Hull's theory, D is not a generalized factor, but is made up of specific needs such as thirst, hunger, etc. Taylor (1951) introduced general D into the formula by showing that anxiety, as measured by her TMAS, had the same effects as would be predicted from high D. Other studies verified that anxiety did in fact facilitate learning in which a dominant response was to be learned and disrupted learning in which competing responses were involved. Studies of amphetamine show that it has some properties similar to drive. Also, Eysenck (1957) suggests that a stimulant would have effects similar to anxiety. This raised the question of whether or not amphetamine has general D functions, or specifically, does amphetamine facilitate the learning of dominant responses and hinder the learning of competing responses? A total of 60 Ss were divided into four equal groups as follows: 15 received the placebo and learned a high-associative list; 15 received the placebo and learned the competitive list, 15 received 10 mgm. of amphetamine and learned the high-associative list, and 15 Ss received 10 mgm. of amphetamine and learned the competitive list. The lists were from Haagen's (1949) list and were high associative pairs. In the competitive list, the pairs were scrambled, so that the high associative response was incorrect. The lists, of 12 pairs each, were presented, on a Hull-type memory drum. An examination of the results verified that the simple list contained dominant responses and that the complex list not only contained competing responses, but was overall much more difficult to learn. However, there was absolutely no differences found between the placebo and amphetamine groups on the simple or complex task. This indicates that although some properties of amphetamine suggest drive, it cannot be substituted for general D in the Hull formula as anxiety has been substituted. This also raises the question of whether or not there are many components of drive, some of which will function in some situations, while others function in others. Thus, the general D measured by the TMAS might itself be a specific D that operates only for short periods of time, while amphetamine, certainly at this point, appears to have characteristics of D only after an extended period.