I am looking for a source that really discusses the classic rules of learning in depth. So classical conditioning, operant conditioning, imitation learning... I have found an infinite number of books that supposedly discuss these topics, but have not yet found anything that summarizes all the important findings on this topic. I am familiar with the basics, but I am explicitly interested in a detailed presentation of the topic.

Can anyone tell me a good source about the different forms of classical learning in mammals? I consider "Reinforcement Learning: An Introduction" comprehensive and detailed regarding RL. A comparable book on biological learning systems would be great. Sources in German and English would fit.


1 Answer 1


I recommend Animal Learning and Cognition: An Introduction by John Pearce.

  • As an introduction to the field, it's comprehensive. It covers all the topics you mentioned and more. Here is a free preview of the book.
  • It's well-regarded, having over 500 citations on Google Scholar.
  • It's relatively modern. Published in 2008, it discusses experimental findings that you won't be able to find in some of the other classics published in the 70s or 80s.

Although it does not specifically focus on mammals, all of the ideas extend to mammals.

  • $\begingroup$ Is this a casual reading book? Just for the sake of increasing your knowledge rather than dabbling into maths? $\endgroup$
    – user9947
    Mar 19, 2019 at 13:29
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I wouldn't call it casual, but it does have less math than Sutton and Barto's RL book. Keep in mind that we have no complete mathematical model of cognition. This book, along with the rest of the field, is less algorithmic than RL. Instead, it focuses more on experiment and observation. $\endgroup$ Mar 19, 2019 at 19:08

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