Department of Psychology

Laboratory of Learning and Behavioral Microbiology

ratThe research in this laboratory is directed toward basic areas in the discipline, such as reinforcement and conditioned reinforcement; the
 effect of response effort on learning; conflict and frustration; and 
the investigation of learning in both rats and primitive, simple organisms (paramecia). A word (or more than one) about the last of these. I have been
 long intrigued by the question of the generality of learning. While
 the little research that has been done does 
not support the possibility of learning in certain non-animals (plants)*, there has been some indication that other non-animals may be 
capable of learning. To this end, my students and I have carried out
 a number of studies that have shown that paramecia, one-celled
 organisms without a nervous system, can learn. We are currently 
trying to determine how similar this learning is to the learning exhibited by more typical research subjects. Be warned, however, if
 you are interested in this, that it is a tedious and often frustrating research area.

For more information please check out my webpage. Also, feel free to e-mail me with questions or comments at

parameciumIf you are interested in joining the Learning & Behavioral Microbiology Lab (either as an undergraduate or graduate student), it is often helpful to send me an e-mail, to let me know of your interest. To apply to the graduate program, send your graduate application to the Experimental Psychology Program, indicating your interest in Dr. Armus and the Learning Lab. The deadline for applications is January 15.

*Note: I did explore this a long time ago, using Mimosa plants. The positive results that were found were, unfortunately, the result
 of error in procedure, but I still think that this might be a
 worthwhile area to investigate further.

Last Updated: 6/27/22