In this book J.E.R. Staddon proposes an explanation of behavior that lies between cognitive psychology, which seeks to explain it in terms of mentalistic constructs, and cognitive neuroscience, which tries to explain it in terms of the brain. Staddon suggests a new way to understand the laws and causes of learning, based on the invention, comparison, testing, and modification or rejection of parsimonious real-time models for behavior. The models are neither physiological nor cognitive: they are behavioristic. Staddon shows how simple dynamic models can explain a surprising variety of animal and human behavior, ranging from simple orientation, reflexes, and habituation through feeding regulation, operant conditioning, spatial navigation, stimulus generalization, and interval timing.
Bradford Books imprint
J. E. R. Staddon is th James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Professor of Zoology and Neurobiology at Duke University.
There is a shortage of books and materials that help students and instructors move from a cursory analysis of animal learning and behavior to a deeper level of understanding. John Staddon, one of the most creative and thoughtful scientists in the field, is to be commended for giving us such a book.
Armando Machado, Department of Psychology, Indiana University, USA, and Instituto de Educação e Psicologia, Universidade do Minho, Portugal
A superb and useful guide to understanding adaptive behavior through a step-by-step development and qualitative comparison of parsimonious models. This interesting volume is filled with information and insight.
Jose L. Contreras-Vidal, Department of Kinesiology and Neuroscience & Cognitive Science Program, University of Maryland at College Park
Adaptive Dynamics is a real tour de force. By showing that phenomena such as navigation and timing may be adequately described by simple behavioristic models, Staddon issues a challenge to cognitive theorists. His 'theoretical behaviorism' charts a middle way between behaviorist and cognitivist approaches, retaining the parsimony of behaviorism with an ability to explain complex behavior associated with cognitive models.
Randolph Grace, Department of Psychology, University of Canterbury, New Zealand
This is vintage Staddon: ingenious, mathematical, black-box models of behavior. It accepts Skinner's prescription that the study of behavior is a self-contained science and rejects his proscription against models. The models are nonliteral in that they are not based on physiology or brain mechanisms. They specify relations between observable variables. This book is an exciting challenge and a must read for anybody with the courage to consider a nonmolecular approach to behavior.
George Collier, Department of Psychology, Rutgers University