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Little heed was taken of the prescient views of Tolman in the 1930s when he suggested that mental representations formed in the brains of animals could enable them to possess a cognitive map of their environment, develop expectancies about outcomes and plan their actions in the world. Associative learning principles, especially those espoused by Skinner, are central to animal training. Operant procedures are powerful techniques and their use in training help to establish the motor behaviours that are the basis of skilled action by the guide dog. However, for the dog to become a safe and fluent guide for a vision impaired person it will be necessary for it to employ the cognitive processes of selective attention, pattern recognition, categorisation, discrimination, prediction and the mental representation of knowledge and its translation into action. Above all the guide dog needs to be a confident decision maker and problem solver, capable of operating with purposeful intent within a set of rules. If the dog is to guide its vision impaired owner safely in town or city, stopping at kerbs, avoiding pedestrians and street furniture, manoeuvring around ladders and helping its owner cross roads safely, it will need to be much more than a well conditioned and unthinking robot! Skill acquisition by the guide dog would appear to be dependent upon an interplay between stimulus driven [bottom-up] and mentally driven [top-down] processes. This book will be of value to dog owners and professional trainers, education and training staff of guide dog schools, students of animal and human cognition, veterinary staff, and anyone who has a curiosity about how the guide dog does its job.

d e

THE SKILFUL MIND OF

THE GUIDE DOG TOWARDS A COGNITIVE AND HOLISTIC MODEL OF TRAINING

Bruce Johnston Bruce Johnston is a psychologist. He lost his sight in a car accident in 1963 at the beginning of his fourth year as a medical student. As an alternative career he chose to study psychology, qualifying from the University of Sheffield in 1967. Before joining Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (UK) in 1992 as their Psychology and Training Consultant, Johnston had over 25 years of experience as a college lecturer.

Bruce Johnston

Johnston has been a guide dog owner for 47 years. He trained with his first dog in 1965. He now lives in Berkshire with his wife Jane.

Such was the success of the campaign of the school of Behaviourism to rid psychology of any mentalistic explanations of animal behaviour, just about everyone came to believe very little of importance went on in animal brains. Even very complex behaviour by animals was viewed as the product of mechanistic and non-cognitive processes.

THE SKILFUL MIND OF THE GUIDE DOG

The writing of the first edition of this book in 1990 stemmed from his work in developmental and cognitive psychology, education and disability, and his interest, at the time, in the burgeoning discipline of animal cognition. “The Skilful Mind of the Guide Dog” formed the basis of his developmental and educational work with the Association, and foreshadowed the publication of “Harnessing Thought” in 1995.

ed www.knsediciones.com


The Skilful Mind of the Guide Dog TOWARDS A COGNITIVE AND HOLISTIC MODEL OF TRAINING

Bruce Johnston


The Skilful Mind of the Guide Dog TOWARDS A COGNITIVE AND HOLISTIC MODEL OF TRAINING

Bruce Johnston

ed


First issued in 1990 by The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association [UK] Present edition 2012 by Kns ediciones SC consultas@knsediciones.com www.knsediciones.com Š Bruce Johnston, 1990 Š Kns ediciones S.C., 2012

ISBN 978-84-939690-8-0 DL C 2169-2012

Graphic designer: Alberto Mosquera Lorenzo Illustrator: Alberto Mosquera Lorenzo Printed in Spain

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission in writing from the author and the publisher.


In memory of Binley who was a most skilled operator


7

Preface to the current edition

The challenge I faced when writing the first edition of this book in 1990 was to integrate the principles and procedures derived from the associative learning theories of Pavlov and Skinner with the findings from the burgeoning discipline of animal cognition into an explanatory framework of skill learning by the guide dog; and additionally to outline a cognitive and holistic model of training. Behaviourism had been so successful in ridding animal psychology of any mentalistic explanations of behaviour, just about everyone came to believe that very little of importance went on in animal brains. Even very complex behaviour by animals was viewed as the product of mechanistic and noncognitive processes. Little heed was taken of the prescient views of Tolman in the 1930s when he suggested that mental representations formed in the brains of animals could enable them to possess a cognitive map of their environment, develop expectancies about outcomes and plan their actions in the world. Associative learning principles, especially those espoused by Skinner, are central to animal training. Operant procedures are powerful techniques and their use in training help to establish the motor behaviours that are the basis of skilled action by the guide dog. However, for the dog to become a safe and fluent guide for a vision impaired person it will be necessary for it to employ the cognitive processes of selective attention, pattern recognition, categorisation, discrimination, prediction and the mental representation of knowledge and its translation into action. Above all the guide dog needs to be a confident decision maker and problem solver, capable of operating with purposeful intent within a set of rules. If the dog is to guide its vision impaired owner safely in town or city, stopping at kerbs, avoiding pedestrians and street furniture, manoeuvring around ladders and helping its owner cross roads safely, it will need to be much more than a well conditioned and unthinking robot! Skill acquisition by the guide dog would appear to be dependent upon an interplay between stimulus driven [bottom-up] and mentally driven [top-down] processes.


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The first edition of, The Skilful Mind of the Guide Dog, issued in 1990 formed the basis of my developmental and educational work with The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association [UK] from 1992 to 2001. The 1990 edition had a very restricted readership as it was mainly intended for internal use. It was made available to other international guide dog schools and a small number of interested individuals and groups. Therefore, the unexpected offer from Kns to publish a commercially available second edition in a print and digital version came as a very welcome surprise. Deliberately few changes have been made to the original text. However, the very amateur attempts at the figures and diagrams by myself and a colleague have been significantly improved. I hope this edition will reach a much wider readership and prove of value to dog owners and professional trainers, education and training staff of guide dog schools, students of animal and human cognition, veterinary staff, and anyone who has a curiosity about how the guide dog does its job. My thanks to Benigno Paz of Kns who has been diligent and patient throughout the preparation of the manuscript, and to Jane for the many hours she has spent proof reading and marking up the text. Finally my lasting gratitude to my guide dogs over the past 47 years, Cindy, Toni, Binley, Pippa and Josh, all skilful and faithful friends, for without them I could have understood or written little.

Bruce Johnston, Formerly Psychology and Training Consultant to Guide Dogs for the Blind Association [UK] and Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Suffolk College, Ipswich. October, 2012.


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Preface

In all parts of the world the guide dog has provided independent mobility to many thousands of vision impaired people. The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (UK) has played a unique and critical role in this country in such provision. The effectiveness of their work is clear for all to see. Both the number and competence of guide dog units continue to increase. Within the various functions of the Association, one objective remains paramount, namely that of producing the most effective guide dog possible. It is hoped that this publication will contribute to the Association’s quest for excellence in this most challenging, important and interesting area of work. My warmest thanks are extended: to Mike Csernovits whose stimulation, ideas, enthusiasm and support have been unfailing throughout; to my wife Jane, and my family whose critical eyes have been invaluable during the preparation of the manuscript; to Clive Barrett whose computer drawn diagrams and thoughtful comments always proved to be both amusing and illuminating; and finally, but by no means least, to my guide dogs over the past twenty-five years, Cindy, Toni, Binley and Pippa, from whom I have learned so much. Skilled operators, one and all, for without their guidance little could have been written. Bruce Johnston, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Suffolk College, Ipswich. Project Consultant to Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (UK). September, 1990.


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Contents

Chapter One. Introduction ......................................................... 17 1.1. Learning to be Skilful by the Guide Dog ............................. 17 1.2. A Hierarchical Model of Learning ........................................... 17 1.3. Training the Guide Dog to be a Skilled Operator ............. 20 Chapter Two. Pavlovian or Classical Conditioning .............. 21 2.1. The Value of Pavlovian Conditioning to Guide Dog Training .......................................................................................... 21 2.2. Pavlovian Conditioning Procedures ........................................ 22 2.3. The Development of Dysfunctional Behaviours in the Guide Dog .................................................................................... 27 2.4. Pavlovian Conditioning and Cognition ................................. 31 Chapter Three. Operant Training Procedures ....................... 33 3.1. The Value of Operant Training Procedures .......................... 33 3.2. The Principle of Reinforcement ............................................... 34 3.3. The Value of Positive Reinforcers in Guide Dog Training .......................................................................................... 37 3.4. Antecedents and Consequences Regulate Behaviour ....... 38 3.5. Punishment Procedures............................................................... 41 3.6. Avoidance Learning by the Guide Dog ................................ 43 3.7. The Process of Extinction .......................................................... 45 3.8. Schedules of Reinforcement ..................................................... 46 3.9. Shaping Behaviours in the Guide Dog .................................. 47


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Chapter Four. Chains, Prompts, Guiding Instructions and Commands ...................................................................... 49 4.1. Forming and Maintaining a Chain of Responses ................ 49 4.2. Guided Learning, Prompts, Guiding Instructions and Commands .................................................................................... 52 Chapter Five. Learning to be Helpless or Learning to Predict ......................................................................... 55 5.1. The Learned Helplessness Hypothesis ................................... 55 5.2. Motivational, Emotional and Cognitive Effects of Helplessness .................................................................................. 58 5.3. Helplessness or Predictive Competence by the Guide Dog .................................................................................... 60 5.4. Making Decisions about Traffic .............................................. 61 5.5. Some Suggestions Concerning Traffic Education ............... 65 Chapter Six. Skill Performance by the Guide Dog ............... 67 6.1. Viewing the guide dog as a Skilled Performer ..................... 67 6.2. The Complexity of the Task for the Guide Dog ................. 68 6.3. What Behaviours may be Defined as Skills? . ...................... 70 6.4. The Role of Cognition in Motor Skill Performance by the Guide Dog .................................................................................... 71 6.5. From Graded Response to an Holistic Model of Training . 73 Chapter Seven. The Nature of Skill Learning by the Guide Dog ....................................................................... 77 7.1. Markers of Skilled Action by the Guide Dog ..................... 77 7.2. Translating Knowledge into Action ........................................ 78 7.3. The Guide Dog as an Information Processing System . ..... 82 7.4. Developing Perceptual Organisation by the Guide Dog .. 84


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7.5. Fluency of Performance by the Guide Dog .......................... 86 7.6. Automaticity of Response by the Guide Dog ..................... 90 Chapter Eight. Emotions, Confidence and Plans .................. 91 8.1. Regulatory and Cognitive Systems Interact ......................... 91 8.2. The Confident Partnership ........................................................ 94 8.3. Planned and Purposive Action by the Guide Dog ............. 102 Chapter Nine. From Categorisation to Problem Solving .... 117 9.1. Categorisation of Stimuli by the Guide Dog . ..................... 117 9.2. Overcoming the Combinatorial Explosion . ......................... 121 9.3. Schema Theory and Guide Dog performance ..................... 124 9.4. The Problem Solving and Reasoning Guide Dog ............... 134 Glossary ........................................................................................... 141 Bibliography ................................................................................... 171 Index . ................................................................................................ 175 About the Author .......................................................................... 181


14

The Skilful Mind of the Guide Dog

Contents Table of Figures

1a. Hierarchical model of skill learning.................................................... 18 2a. Classically conditioned response to sound of food bowl............ 23 2b. Conditioning the guide dog to the whistle. .................................... 24 2c. Stopping the guide dog sniffing.......................................................... 25 2d. Classically conditioned fear to veterinary environment............... 28 2e. Classically conditioned fear to traffic................................................ 29 2f. Conditioning of inappropriate level of anxiety or fear................. 30 3a. Basic operant learning procedure...................................................... 35 3b. D  ifferential effects associated with the application, removal or non-application of positive and negative reinforcers.................... 36 3c. Operantly learned kerb behaviour.................................................... 39 3d. Operantly learned obstacle avoidance............................................. 40 3e. Operantly learned platform behaviour............................................. 40 3f. Punishment by application.................................................................. 41 3g. Learning the word “NO!�..................................................................... 42 3h. Two stage model of avoidance learning........................................... 44 4a. Chain of motor responses ................................................................... 50 5a. Classically conditioned fear to traffic................................................ 56 5b. A series of learning trials....................................................................... 57 5c. Development of learned helplessness............................................... 57 5d. Operantly learned correct road crossing.......................................... 62


The Skilful Mind of the Guide Dog

5e. Operantly learned far traffic procedure............................................ 62 5f. Operantly reinforced correct behaviour with near traffic............ 63 5g. Operantly punished incorrect traffic behaviour.............................. 63 6a. Cognitive components of skill action by the guide dog. ............. 72 6b. S-R model of learning........................................................................... 73 7a. Declarative and procedural memory systems for skilled action . 80 7b. Limited capacity information processing system............................ 83 7c. Planning ahead by the guide dog....................................................... 89 8a. Outline model of the information processing system................... 92 8b. D  iagrammatic representation of the interaction between the regulatory and cognitive systems........................................................ 94 8c. The confidence quadrangle.................................................................. 95 8d. Diagram of a TOTE cycle or unit....................................................... 105 8e. C  hoosing a path that avoids a lamp post and an oncoming pedestrian‌.............................................................................................. 107 8f. Left turn behind...................................................................................... 110 8g. The old combination turn.................................................................... 112 8h. Left turn behind avoiding pedestrians.............................................. 114 9a. Ladder Schema........................................................................................ 128 9b. Scaffolding Schema................................................................................ 129 9c. Platform Schema..................................................................................... 130 9d. Kerb edge Schema................................................................................. 130 9e. Off-kerb Obstacle Schema................................................................... 131

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17

1. Introduction 1.1. Learning to be Skilful by the Guide Dog To guide a blind person from place to place, safely, fluently and comfortably is indeed a most difficult task. Perhaps it is the most demanding work the human being asks of any animal. Pedestrians and street furniture have to be avoided and busy road crossings safely negotiated. Such complex behaviours do not emerge naturally in the dog as a function of maturation - they have to be acquired by learning. It has been traditional to seek explanations of how the guide dog learns its task, and in addition, to provide guidelines for training, mainly within a conditioning framework. Surprisingly, little attention has been paid to the role of cognition in relation to animal training in general, or to guide dog training in particular. The term cognition refers to the activities of recognising, selecting, discriminating, remembering, predicting, organising and making use of knowledge. As will become evident, the guide dog will need to utilise all of these cognitive processes to the full if effective performance is to be achieved. In the following pages a description and clarification of present guide dog training procedures is offered. These traditional methods are integrated into a broader cognitively orientated framework and a hierarchical model of learning is proposed. The model provides a means whereby Pavlovian and operant conditioning procedures can be seen to contribute to the development of such higher order cognitive processes as problem solving, concept and rule learning by the skilful guide dog.

1.2. A Hierarchical Model of Learning The acquisition of skills by the guide dog, within the context of training, may be thought of as emerging in a hierarchical manner. The evidence for this claim


18

The Skilful Mind of the Guide Dog

is limited and the model is presented, not as a statement of what is necessarily the case, but rather as a useful framework in which to explore the various levels of learning which may be involved in guide dog training. It is suggested that learning at each level depends upon successful learning having already taken place at each of the preceding levels. Level 1 [Pavlovian conditioning] is not considered to operate in this hierarchical fashion. Rather the effects of such conditioning, whether helpful or disruptive to training, are seen to operate at all other levels of the hierarchy. The same is true of level 5 [learned helplessness] but in this case the effects are always such that they interfere with the training and work of the guide dog. The levels of learning are illustrated in figure 1a.

Level 1: Pavlovian or classical conditioning Level 2: Operant [Skinnerian] or instrumental conditioning Level 3: Motor chain learning Level 4: Multiple discrimination learning Level 5: Learned helplessness Level 6: Categorisation, classification and concept learning Level 7: Rule learning Level 8: Problem solving

Figure 1a. Hierarchical model of skill learning [Adapted from the hierarchical model of learning proposed by Gagne, 1974, 1977.]

The organisation of the book is based broadly upon the hierarchy of skill learning illustrated in figure 1a. above. Chapters Two, Three and Four examine the value of associative learning principles and procedures to guide dog training. The nature and particular value of Pavlovian conditioning [level 1] is outlined in Chapter Two. Although operant techniques [level 2 in Chapter Three] and the chaining of motor responses [level 3 in Chapter Four] are fundamental procedures in training, it will become apparent to the reader that associative learning theories


1. Introduction

in general fail to offer a complete or satisfactory account of skill learning by the guide dog. The radical behaviourism of Skinner [in the tradition of Watson and Thorndike] does not invoke mental processes in the explanation of animal learning. Learning is considered to occur as a result of the establishment of associations between environmental stimuli on the one hand, and responses in the animal on the other. The link between stimuli and responses is deemed to be direct. In Chapter Five the concept of learned helplessness [level 5] is introduced. The learned helplessness hypothesis provides a useful bridging concept between the earlier chapters of the book concerned with stimulus-response [S-R] learning and the later ones which focus upon the role of cognition in skill acquisition. The importance of prediction for skilled action is explained. Additionally, the motivational, emotional and cognitive effects of “helplessness” and the “traffic problem” faced by the guide dog are explored. The reasons why it is appropriate to view the guide dog as a skilled performer are examined in Chapter Six. Cognitive processes are necessarily involved in all motor skills. The role of cognition in skilled action is analysed and a cognitive and holistic model of training is introduced. It is, however, in Chapters Seven, Eight and Nine that the main theoretical support for the holistic training model is provided. Skill acquisition also appears to be hierarchically organised. Well practised and well learned motor behaviours are down-graded and in turn require less attentional focus as they become automatic. Attention is a limited cognitive resource and such down-grading prevents, or at least reduces, the possibility of “information overload” when the dog is having to make a number of decisions in relation to a complex, and frequently changing, environment. It is in Chapter Seven that guide dog skill acquisition is examined within an information processing framework. Fluency of performance can only be achieved through the development of a perceptual organisation which facilitates the efficient “filtering” of sensory data. Chapter Eight commences by offering a timely reminder that cognitive and emotional systems interact. The emergence of competent decision making by the guide dog will be significantly affected by the confidence developed in both itself and its handler. The chapter continues to explain why planned and purposive action by the guide dog is dependent upon the formation of mental representations and, of course, the confidence within the partnership.

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20

The Skilful Mind of the Guide Dog

The cognitive capacities of the guide dog for the categorisation of stimuli [level 6], the development of response rules [level 7] and problem solving [level 8] are examined in Chapter Nine. The inadequacy of S-R theory to provide either a completely satisfactory model for training, or a credible explanation of the complex skills acquired by the guide dog, is explained. Clearly, for effective action, the dog must have some form of mental organisation that stores memories of “what to do” and “how to do it”. Schema theory [which is detailed in Chapter Nine] adds further to the discussion of declarative and procedural knowledge in Chapter Seven. Schema theory provides a flexible account of how knowledge about the guiding task is translated into action. A cognitive framework would seem to be demanded to account satisfactorily for the skills displayed by the guide dog.

1.3. Training the Guide Dog to be a Skilled Operator A skill is a complex pattern of behaviour which is acquired by learning and is directed towards an end-point or goal. Above all, the guide dog is a skilled decision maker. The extent to which such skills may be developed by the guide dog would appear to depend upon four main factors. [i] The innate capacity of the dog to acquire decision making, problem solving and other skills associated with the guiding task. [ii] The quality of the socialising experiences from day one, during the puppy-walking period and beyond. [iii] The nature of the “teaching” procedures adopted during all stages of training. [iv] The ability of the guide dog owner [GDO] to continue to support [without unnecessary interference] the development of skills by his or her dog. Perhaps the most critical of these factors is that concerned with the nature of the procedures employed during training. These, together with the development of a theoretical framework for training, will be the main focus of attention throughout the following chapters.


181

About the Author

Bruce Johnston is a psychologist. He lost his sight in a car accident in 1963 at the beginning of his fourth year as a medical student. As an alternative career he chose to study psychology, qualifying from the University of Sheffield in 1967. Before joining The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (UK) in 1992 as their Psychology and Training Consultant, Johnston had over 25 years of experience as a college lecturer. The writing of the first edition of this book in 1990 stemmed from his work in developmental and cognitive psychology, education and disability, and his interest, at the time, in the burgeoning discipline of animal cognition. “The Skilful Mind of the Guide Dog” formed the basis of his developmental and educational work with the Association, and foreshadowed the publication of “Harnessing Thought” in 1995. Johnston has been a guide dog owner for 47 years. He trained with his first dog in 1965. He now lives in Berkshire with his wife Jane.


PortadaContraPortadaPerrosGuia(1).pdf

10/4/13

19:48:23

ed

Little heed was taken of the prescient views of Tolman in the 1930s when he suggested that mental representations formed in the brains of animals could enable them to possess a cognitive map of their environment, develop expectancies about outcomes and plan their actions in the world. Associative learning principles, especially those espoused by Skinner, are central to animal training. Operant procedures are powerful techniques and their use in training help to establish the motor behaviours that are the basis of skilled action by the guide dog. However, for the dog to become a safe and fluent guide for a vision impaired person it will be necessary for it to employ the cognitive processes of selective attention, pattern recognition, categorisation, discrimination, prediction and the mental representation of knowledge and its translation into action. Above all the guide dog needs to be a confident decision maker and problem solver, capable of operating with purposeful intent within a set of rules. If the dog is to guide its vision impaired owner safely in town or city, stopping at kerbs, avoiding pedestrians and street furniture, manoeuvring around ladders and helping its owner cross roads safely, it will need to be much more than a well conditioned and unthinking robot! Skill acquisition by the guide dog would appear to be dependent upon an interplay between stimulus driven [bottom-up] and mentally driven [top-down] processes. This book will be of value to dog owners and professional trainers, education and training staff of guide dog schools, students of animal and human cognition, veterinary staff, and anyone who has a curiosity about how the guide dog does its job.

d e

THE SKILFUL MIND OF

THE GUIDE DOG TOWARDS A COGNITIVE AND HOLISTIC MODEL OF TRAINING

Bruce Johnston Bruce Johnston is a psychologist. He lost his sight in a car accident in 1963 at the beginning of his fourth year as a medical student. As an alternative career he chose to study psychology, qualifying from the University of Sheffield in 1967. Before joining Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (UK) in 1992 as their Psychology and Training Consultant, Johnston had over 25 years of experience as a college lecturer.

Bruce Johnston

Johnston has been a guide dog owner for 47 years. He trained with his first dog in 1965. He now lives in Berkshire with his wife Jane.

Such was the success of the campaign of the school of Behaviourism to rid psychology of any mentalistic explanations of animal behaviour, just about everyone came to believe very little of importance went on in animal brains. Even very complex behaviour by animals was viewed as the product of mechanistic and non-cognitive processes.

THE SKILFUL MIND OF THE GUIDE DOG

The writing of the first edition of this book in 1990 stemmed from his work in developmental and cognitive psychology, education and disability, and his interest, at the time, in the burgeoning discipline of animal cognition. “The Skilful Mind of the Guide Dog” formed the basis of his developmental and educational work with the Association, and foreshadowed the publication of “Harnessing Thought” in 1995.

ed www.knsediciones.com

The Skilful Mind of the Guide Dog (First pages)  

Towards a cognitive and holistic model of training. Bruce Johnston´s book. If the dog is to guide its vision impaired owner safely in town o...

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