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WCALB | About the Conference


The Winter Conference is a friendly and informal meeting that provides an opportunity to combine intensive, scientifically rigorous discussions on a variety of topics related to animal conditioning, behavior and learning with skiing at one of Colorado's premier ski areas, Winter Park. The breadth of WCALB paper sessions that reflect the research interests of participants can be seen in recent programs posted on the website. All participants are invited to make a presentation and suggest topics. Graduate students are welcome, and can make a presentation with the written recommendation of their advisor.

There is downhill skiing for all skill levels, up to black diamond, as well as exciting cross-country skiing in the Arapaho National Forest, Devil's Thumb and Snow Mountain Ranch. The majestic snow-covered Rockies in winter are breathtaking.



Keynote Address

Pavlovian and Skinnerian Processes
Are Genetically Separable

Björn Brembs

Universität Regensburg


Abstract: The commonalities and differences between operant and classical conditioning have been debated ever since Skinner and Konorski embarked on their epic exchange about "two types of conditioned reflex and a pseudo type" in the 1930s. New techniques that surmount experimental design problems identified in early research allow for a much improved separation of the two types of conditioning. These technical advances, combined with modern genetic manipulations, provide evidence that Pavlovian and Skinnerian processes separate not between the learning procedure (operant vs. classical), but between learning content (self vs. non-self). The picture emerging today reinforces Skinner's early insight that operant conditioning is a composite situation, comprised of a 'Pavlovian' component (learning about stimuli — 'world-learning') and a 'Skinnerian' component (learning about the consequences of actions 'self-learning'). A research program that distinguished these processes genetically is described.

Björn Brembs is Professor of Neurogenetics at Universität Regensburg. He obtained his doctorate in genetics and neurobiology from Universität Würzburg, and has done post-doctoral research at the University of Texas Houston Health Science Center. Thematically, Dr. Brembs' research concerns the general organization of behavior with regards to reward and punishment with the objective of better understanding how brains accomplish adaptive behavioral choice. See http://brembs.net/about.html


Focus Session

Operant/Classical Learning: Comparisons and Interactions

Alan Neuringer, Peter Killeen, Jeremie Jozefowiez (Université Lille Nord de France), Michael Commons, Karyn Pryor, and Stan Weiss have already joined the Focus Session. The format is up to 25-minute presentations with extended discussion among participants in a Research Seminar session. Additional qualified participants can be added. Let me (sweiss@american.edu) know if you would like to join this session.



Recent WCALB Focus sessions have been concerned with:

• Pharmacological Hist. & the Control & Expression of Learning & Behav. (2013)
• Theory of Mind: Current Status of the Controversy (2012)
• Bi-directional Links Between Obesity & Learning & Memory Dysfunction (2011)
• Rational Rats: Causal Inference and Reality Monitoring (2010)
• Economic Demand, Reinforcer Essential Value and Drug Addiction (2009)
• Remembering and Anticipating Events in Time (2008)
• Modeling Data: From Description & Significance to Behavior & Theories (2007)
• The Question of Animal Consciousness and Cognition (2006)
• Choice in Humans and other Animals (2005)
• Associative Mechanisms and Drug-Related Behavior (2004)
• Learning, Choice and Context Effects (2003).

The 2004 & 2010 Focus Sessions were published as Special Issues of the International Journal of Comparative Psychology.


Winter Conference on Animal Learning & Behavior 

Winter Park, Colorado 

February 8 to February 12, 2014

Stan Weiss (Convener)