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Understanding Associative Learning: The Fundamentals of Classical Conditioning

Classical conditioning explores how associations between stimuli can shape our behaviors.

Written by Sarah Hill
November 24th, 2023

Classical conditioning plays a pivotal role in shaping our responses to stimuli and can be an extremely useful tool to get the most out of your meditation practice. In this post, we’ll explore the core components of classical conditioning as well as its applications in neurofeedback meditation.


What is Classical Conditioning?

Classical conditioning explores how associations between stimuli can shape behavior by pairing a neutral stimulus with an unconditioned stimulus to create a learned response. 


The most widely recognized example of classical conditioning is Pavlov’s experiment with dogs, where the ringing of a bell (neutral stimulus) became associated with food (unconditioned stimulus), eventually causing the dogs to salivate at the sound of the bell alone (learned response). 


This process highlights the power of environmental cues in influencing behavior. Classical conditioning is not only a key element in understanding reflexes and automatic responses but also has broad applications in areas like meditation, education, therapy, and even marketing, where learned associations can be leveraged to modify or predict behavior.


Key Terms to Remember


Unconditioned Response (UCR):

The unconditioned response is the natural reaction to an unconditioned stimulus. It’s an automatic, instinctual response. 


Consider the calming effect of nature sounds or the soothing ambiance of a meditation space – these are unconditioned responses that can be harnessed in classical conditioning.


Conditioned Response (CR):

When the conditioned stimulus consistently precedes the unconditioned stimulus, the neutral stimulus becomes associated with the unconditioned response. This learned response is the conditioned response. 


In the context of meditation, it could be achieving a state of deep relaxation, lower levels of stress and anxiety, or heightened focus in response to a specific cue.


Conditioned Stimulus (CS):

Classical conditioning starts with a neutral stimulus that becomes associated with a meaningful event or stimulus. This neutral stimulus transforms into a conditioned stimulus, capable of triggering a response. 


In the world of meditation and neurofeedback, this could be a visual cue, sound, or even a sensation.


Examples of Classic Conditioning

Classical conditioning occurs whenever you’ve begun to associate a neutral stimulus with a particular response. So, for example:


Taste Aversion:

After eating a specific type of food and later experiencing nausea, an individual may develop an aversion to that particular food due to the association with feeling sick.


Elevator Anxiety:

If someone experiences anxiety during a power outage in an elevator, they may later feel anxious in any elevator, even when the power is functioning normally.


Relaxing Aromas:

Imagine using a specific scent every time you meditate. Initially, the scent might not have any particular effect, but as you consistently pair it with deeply relaxing meditation experiences, eventually, the scent alone could trigger a relaxed meditative state .


Conditioning with Meditation & Neurofeedback

Healium builds upon the foundational principles of conditioning to provide an innovative way to meditate, utilizing operant conditioning rather than classical conditioning.  


By using biofeedback devices that monitor heartrate and brainwaves in real-time, Healium grants users agency over their mental states as they experience a virtual reality meditation.


Whenever your biofeedback data falls out of ideal range, like when your mind drifts or you become anxious, visual cues within the experience alert and guide you back to a relaxed, meditative state. 


Unlock the full potential of your mind through conditioning and the immersive experience of neurofeedback meditation. 



To learn more about how Healium works watch the video below!

About the Author

Sarah Hill, a former interactive TV news journalist at NBC, ABC, and CBS affiliates in Missouri, gained recognition for pioneering interactive news broadcasting using Google Hangouts. She is now the CEO of Healium, the world’s first biometrically powered VR/AR channel, helping those with stress, anxiety, insomnia, and other struggles through biofeedback storytelling. With patents, clinical validation, and over seven million views, she has reshaped the landscape of immersive media.

Written by Sarah Hill
November 24th, 2023
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