Habituation is a type of learned behaviour whereby the strength of a response diminishes when the response is repeated

  • The response is usually an innate behaviour (e.g. reflex), rather than conditioned behaviours (which undergo ‘extinction’)

An example of habituation can be seen in the response of crows to the presence of a scarecrow

  • Initially the birds will react to the scarecrow as if it is a valid threat (predator) and fly away
  • Eventually the birds will react less and not fly away – demonstrating habituation

Habituation can even be seen in the slime mould Physarum polycephalum, which lacks any form of nervous system

  • When introduced by a bitter (yet harmless) barrier between its food source, the mould quickly learned to ignore the barrier
  • This acquired behaviour could even be passed on to naive mould cells when the two types of slime moulds fused

The opposite of habituation is sensitisation – whereby the strength of a response is amplified with repetition

Habituation of Crow Behaviour


Link:  Habituation in Slime Moulds

Link:  Direct Transfer of Learned Behaviour in Slime Moulds