Neutral reinforcement thread

fburton

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Just wondering why it was deleted. I thought it contained some reasonable points. I would be grateful if someone could PM me with the reason. Thanks!
 

YorksG

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I can't say for certain, but I should imagine that it was deleted as yet again the OP of that thread was advertising her partner/husbands business, which she does in all her posts. It was reported to admin as advertising, I know because I did the reporting.
 

better half

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I can't say for certain, but I should imagine that it was deleted as yet again the OP of that thread was advertising her partner/husbands business, which she does in all her posts. It was reported to admin as advertising, I know because I did the reporting.
The OP of the thread was Janet George, I had updated the progress of the little horse in the thread, as I am sure there are people out there that liked it from all the positive feed back I got on Facebook. I can't mention OH without it being advertising,:eek: but it is just part of my life and I am very interested in what others think about the way he works as it only helps me to describe what he does on the phone to people with real problems without doing a degree in Behavioural Science. (3 children and animals to look after no chance at the moment).
 

Spudlet

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What is neutral reinforcement? I know about positive and negative reinforcement, and positive and negative punishment, but I haven't come across neutral reinforcement before. I am intrigued by this, can anyone explain? I didn't see the thread referred to.
 

better half

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When my OH (can’t mention his name because of advertising Law) did large demo’s in Denmark, Copenhagen Vet School wanted to work with OH as they could not work out if he was systematically desensitising or flooding as the process was so fast. OH then explained his theory as Neutral R.

He explained that there is a small space between these theories in which you must work, where it is completely neutral territory. It look’s like I am doing nothing because all I am doing is keeping a horse’s behaviour between the positive and negative ie the neutral zone. Just like someone balancing a basket of fruit on their head. When they are good at it it seems to be part of them, but while you are learning, then you’ll see them make huge, erratic adjustments from positive to negative to keep things in balance.
The horse by nature understands that life provides both negative and positive stimuli and is looking for a balance between the two. When it is right the reward is peace and understanding.
 

fburton

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Are you using 'new' terminology... is that allowed lol
:p

He explained that there is a small space between these theories in which you must work, where it is completely neutral territory. It look’s like I am doing nothing because all I am doing is keeping a horse’s behaviour between the positive and negative ie the neutral zone. Just like someone balancing a basket of fruit on their head. When they are good at it it seems to be part of them, but while you are learning, then you’ll see them make huge, erratic adjustments from positive to negative to keep things in balance.
The horse by nature understands that life provides both negative and positive stimuli and is looking for a balance between the two. When it is right the reward is peace and understanding.
Fair enough, but calling it "neutral reinforcement" doesn't make sense to me (and probably not to others who know about positive and negative reinforcement). At least, not yet! For starters, "reinforcement" means something very specific in learning theory - it's increasing a behaviour. "Negative" means taking away, not something bad; and "positive" means adding. So "neutral reinforcement" would mean increasing a behaviour by doing nothing. Is that what is actually meant?

Please note that I'm not saying that Mr Better Half doesn't have useful ideas to contribute - I'd just prefer he used less confusing/misleading terminology!
 

better half

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:p


So "neutral reinforcement" would mean increasing a behaviour by doing nothing. Is that what is actually meant?

Please note that I'm not saying that Mr Better Half doesn't have useful ideas to contribute - I'd just prefer he used less confusing/misleading terminology!
Yes, I think that is right? a lot of people say it looks like he is doing nothing.
When he is just redirecting attention sometimes down to nothing so they go to sleep.

The Horses just know, he knows and they know he knows they know, he knows so they do increase the behaviour he wants because the trust it is there.

In between pressure and release is 'feel' how would you describe this.
 
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JFTDWS

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are you allowed to pm those of us who are confused a link to a website explaining it? Or, er, get your OH to teach a flock of penguins to explain it via interpretive dance or something to make it clearer whilst avoiding advertising laws? Or can someone un-related who does understand explain it? Please?? :D
 

Spudlet

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:p


Fair enough, but calling it "neutral reinforcement" doesn't make sense to me (and probably not to others who know about positive and negative reinforcement). At least, not yet! For starters, "reinforcement" means something very specific in learning theory - it's increasing a behaviour. "Negative" means taking away, not something bad; and "positive" means adding. So "neutral reinforcement" would mean increasing a behaviour by doing nothing. Is that what is actually meant?

Please note that I'm not saying that Mr Better Half doesn't have useful ideas to contribute - I'd just prefer he used less confusing/misleading terminology!
I agree completely with this, FWIW I train dogs using positive reinforcement and negative punishment so I do have an understanding of the terms, but I am a bit lost here:eek:

Loving the idea of the interpretive dancing penguins though:D
 

fburton

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Sorry, but I'm even less clear about this than before. :eek: Are you simply talking about tiny/very subtle pressures and releases, or something more mysterious?
 

Spudlet

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Sorry, but I'm even less clear about this than before. :eek: Are you simply talking about tiny/very subtle pressures and releases, or something more mysterious?
That is how I would understand it but that doesn't mean I'm right:confused:
 

MerrySherryRider

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I've never heard the term before but clicked on the post to find out if it was what I thought it might be.
Watching horseman who seem to do nothing and yet get the task done on a horse that would normally react strongly, my impression was, that this approach lessens anxiety when used appropriately.
Positive/negative reward can be over used, thereby creating a desensitized horse. By seemingly not responding to undesired behaviour, but continuing in a calm manner, quietly getting the job done, the approach can instil confidence in the horse if the handler is empathic and observent.
 

amandap

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What is neutral reinforcement? I know about positive and negative reinforcement, and positive and negative punishment, but I haven't come across neutral reinforcement before. I am intrigued by this, can anyone explain? I didn't see the thread referred to.
I missed it too. :p I don't think science includes neutral reinforcement. However, although not knowing what was meant by it on that thread, I do think 'neutral' has a place in learning and even as a reinforcer if a reinforcer can be 'neutral'. :D
 

YasandCrystal

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I've never heard the term before but clicked on the post to find out if it was what I thought it might be.
Watching horseman who seem to do nothing and yet get the task done on a horse that would normally react strongly, my impression was, that this approach lessens anxiety when used appropriately.
Positive/negative reward can be over used, thereby creating a desensitized horse. By seemingly not responding to undesired behaviour, but continuing in a calm manner, quietly getting the job done, the approach can instil confidence in the horse if the handler is empathic and observent.
Yes I know that one - trying not to react to bad behaviour. That's very hard when you have bared teeth whizzing past your ear or an angry striking foreleg or hind! The positive reinforcement is easier.
I am fascinated, it is very impressive to watch in tune horsemen.
 

better half

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I've never heard the term before but clicked on the post to find out if it was what I thought it might be.
Watching horseman who seem to do nothing and yet get the task done on a horse that would normally react strongly, my impression was, that this approach lessens anxiety when used appropriately.
Positive/negative reward can be over used, thereby creating a desensitized horse. By seemingly not responding to undesired behaviour, but continuing in a calm manner, quietly getting the job done, the approach can instil confidence in the horse if the handler is empathic and observent.
I think this is getting there! I have been on a visit with Mr BH and he said put this note in your pocket with out reading it at 11.30am the owner said 'OH I think my horse is just having a good day... he is normally much worse ...' The note said at 11.30ish the owner will say My horse must just be having a good day today.

At a racing yard that had him out to saddle a horse they could not do when it was to easy they sent him away and called him back when the mare was 'not' in season as they thought that was the reason. It went just as well, they went on to race her as if there was never a problem. They never paid their bill as may be she never had a problem, (you know who you are!)

When other's talk about eye's on or eye's off he just said it's how you look, again it's that space between pressure and release called feel can you explain feel.
 
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Wagtail

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If I have understood it correctly an example of neutral reinforcement is when we lunge or school a horse and it is to keep in the same gait. For example we put negative pressure on a horse to move into canter and the pressure is released as soon as the horse obliges. We can then do one of three things, we can keep the leg on to keep it in gait or do nothing (neutral reinforcement) but if the horse breaks gait, give it more negative reinforcement ( a squeeze, kick or tap with the whip) or we can give it positive reinforcement for staying in gait such as a scratch to the withers, or a click of a clicker or a treat. So presumably by doing nothing, the horse can be trained to stay in gait to avoid experiencing the negative reinforcement when it breaks gait. Is that right?
 

amandap

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To me a term like neutral 'reinforcement' refers to that place when we are doing nothing. Staying calm, unstressed, ignoring (when safely possible of course) unwanted behaviour and just 'waiting' for a response or 'thinking time' for the horse.

I need more thinking time about the reinforcement aspect, but I do think it's well covered in my limited examples above, and in that I find it hard to call it a reinforcer unless the horse has been stressed by an applied stimulus. :D
Mta. Left out waiting to give the next signal to the horse.

I see we are talking about a term used (invented??) by a particular person. My comments may be invalid in that context then. I think it is open to causing a great deal of confusion actually, unless it is clearly defined.
 
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fburton

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I missed it too. :p I don't think science includes neutral reinforcement. However, although not knowing what was meant by it on that thread, I do think 'neutral' has a place in learning and even as a reinforcer if a reinforcer can be 'neutral'. :D
'Neutral' definitely has a place in learning if it means 'nothing' or 'not doing anything in particular' or 'just relaxing' or 'being quiet'. It can be - and often is! - where you go with the horse after you 'release'. The contrast between it and 'pressure' doesn't have to be huge. In fact, the pressure can be so slight that no one else but you and the horse know it's happening. Then the whole interaction looks 'quiet'. Horses appreciate quiet. It's probably what we should all be aiming for!

I see we are talking about a term used (invented??) by a particular person. My comments may be invalid in that context then. I think it is open to causing a great deal of confusion actually, unless it is clearly defined.
That is precisely my concern. It needs to be properly defined. Then we can tell if it is truly a new phenomenon, or something that is adequately covered by the words we already have.
 
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ofcourseyoucan

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i think it is also called good horsemanship! being the alpha without force. reading the very subtle signs that an animal gives you and working with those. not rocket science, there are people that are good at reading all the signs, and work with them and hey ho the animal behaves. Much as i hate the parelli advertising most of the good parelli people are excellent horsemen. (but it does and is marketed to attract the nervous/wobbly yes i am prepared to get shot down)_Being good with horses/animals is a specialist thing. some poeple are naturally gifted, some are good with pracise, and some are just not.
 

MerrySherryRider

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'Neutral' definitely has a place in learning if it means 'nothing' or 'not doing anything in particular' or 'just relaxing' or 'being quiet'. It can be - and often is! - where you go with the horse after you 'release'. The contrast between it and 'pressure' doesn't have to be huge. In fact, the pressure can be so slight that no one else but you and the horse know it's happening. Then the whole interaction looks 'quiet'. Horses appreciate quiet. It's probably what we should all be aiming for!
This sounds right to me but with the added 'feel', 'knowing' or 'being in tune with'. And self belief.

For example,when no one on the yard could get a 2 yr old safely in, several methods were used, none worked.
So old cattle farmer would bring her in, when filly tried to pull back, rear, run off, he just kept on walking, untroubled, same pace, and looking ahead, as though he expected her to walk nicely. And, she did.

Was it Dorrance or Hunt who was asked, 'what do you do when you ride past an object that always makes your horse spook ?'
The reply came, 'well, I just light another cigarette...'
 

AengusOg

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If there was ever a case for neutral reinforcement I would define it as the time the horse spends living quietly between once successful training session and the next. That is when horses really learn.
 

amandap

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'Neutral' definitely has a place in learning if it means 'nothing' or 'not doing anything in particular' or 'just relaxing' or 'being quiet'. It can be - and often is! - where you go with the horse after you 'release'. The contrast between it and 'pressure' doesn't have to be huge. In fact, the pressure can be so slight that no one else but you and the horse know it's happening. Then the whole interaction looks 'quiet'. Horses appreciate quiet. It's probably what we should all be aiming for!
I think that 'nothing' or wait after the release is very underestimated and under used myself. Humans always seem to want to be 'doing' instead of waiting and 'listening' for the response and waiting as long as the required response continues, as in when a horse maintains a gait until a new signal is given. Being quiet/neutral whilst the horse is obliging with the trot you asked for rather than slowing or speeding up, is surely what tells the horse everything is ok by his rider/handler, therefore he is doing as requested.
 

AengusOg

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. That is when horses really learn.
Actually, it's more like when horses absorb and accept what they have learned.

Amandap...I agree with your slant on it. If horses are asked to do something, such as trot on, then any aids or cues given whilst they are doing just that will be counter-productive, resulting in desensitisation to the aid/cue. Over-use of aids invites resistance sooner or later.
 

Queenbee

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When my OH (can’t mention his name because of advertising Law) did large demo’s in Denmark, Copenhagen Vet School wanted to work with OH as they could not work out if he was systematically desensitising or flooding as the process was so fast. OH then explained his theory as Neutral R.

He explained that there is a small space between these theories in which you must work, where it is completely neutral territory. It look’s like I am doing nothing because all I am doing is keeping a horse’s behaviour between the positive and negative ie the neutral zone. Just like someone balancing a basket of fruit on their head. When they are good at it it seems to be part of them, but while you are learning, then you’ll see them make huge, erratic adjustments from positive to negative to keep things in balance.
The horse by nature understands that life provides both negative and positive stimuli and is looking for a balance between the two. When it is right the reward is peace and understanding.
but 'peace and understanding' is a calm and relaxing and thus rewarding state. Thus the very nature of maintaining the balance between a positive and negative stimuli, with the hope of the horse learning that the end result is 'peace and understanding' and thus a calm and relaxed environment, negates the title 'Neutral Reinforcement' because the ultimate 'state that a horse is striving to achieve, is to them a positive one and as such this approach whilst a good, grounded and refreshingly insightful in its mentality is one of 'positive reinforcement'.

I do speak as someone with much experience in the field of behavioural science and of research in such fields.

I am not knocking the idea, but the description and interpretation of it is off kilter, no mammal will respond to a purely to neutral stimulus, neutral does not teach and the end result must be of a positive or a negative nature in the recipients eye to be of any 'nurture' value and to 'reinforce' the message, thus can only be truly described as positive or negative reinforcement. Additionally your OH's title refers to the 'reinforcement' not the 'stimuli' thus if the horse deems 'peace and understanding' as a 'reward' as you state, your OH's approach is one of 'positive reinforcement'

Sorry, I have repeated myself, but perhaps OH would be better to entitle it as: Positive Reinforcement as a Result of Neutral Stimuli' although I would still argue that what your OH describes as 'Neutral Stimuli' will have a positive or negative slant to the horse in order that the horse learns from them.
 
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