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Innate vs. Learned Draft 3/6

Submitted by kheredia on Wed, 09/18/2019 - 21:04

It is often difficult to distinguish the difference between a learned behavior or something that is innate. If it is instinctual, it is present from birth and likely has evolved in an organism to better help it survive in harsh or changing conditions. For example, the Clark Jay has the ability to bury over 30,000 nutcrackers regardless of the weather and be able to retrieve 90% of them within the span of months. Their spatial learning is not a behavior that was learned over time through experience but rather is behavior that has a genetic basis. 

Another example of this is depth perception. Though they are not born being able to perceive depth. humans eventually develop the pathways needed to obtain the ability of depth perception after the age of 5 months. Otherwise, they fail to distinguish how deep something such as a ledge could be. The only difference is that it takes a little bit of time. Nonetheless, it is not a learned behavior, but rather an innate feature of mind that develops post-birth.

One classic example of a learned behavior is conditioning. A famous example of this is Pavlov's experiment with dogs. Dogs do not know to salivate when they hear a bell, but if you present food as a stimulus paired with the ringing of a bell, the dog will eventually associate the ringing of the bell with food and will salivate even if the food is not present.