There is no response to the light, and when the current comes on, the animal shows considerable agitation. It jumps, defecates, urinates, crouches, squeals and finally clawing or bumping against the wheel, turns it. When the rat succeed in turning the wheel, perhaps thirty or forty seconds after the beginning of the trials, the warning light and the shock both go off immediately. On subsequent (trials the rat makes the escape response more and more promptly, until it turns the wheel within a fraction of a second after the consent of the shock.
With further training the animal learns to turn the wheel when the light comes on and thus, to avoid the shock completely. Such learning usually occurs quite rapidly. This form of learning is also called as escape learning because it is based on the negative reinforcement and the subject learns to escape the shock before it occurs.
(2) Passive Avoidance Learning:
In a passive avoidance experiment the animal learns that a particular response leads to punishment. A common procedure is to place an animal on a platform in the middle of an electrified grid. If it steps down the platform, it receives shock.
Animals very quickly master the simple skill of remaining off the safe platform and thus, passively avoiding the shock. This method is widely used to study the memory of lower animals.
The main difference between the Active Avoidance and Passive Avoidance learning is that in the former the subject learns what to do and in the later he learns what not to do.