Computational behavior theory and cultural evolution

Animal Learning Course

I am developing a zero-cost, open course on animal learning, with applications covering human health, animal welfare, and animal training.

I will first teach this course in Fall 2020. This page holds course-related material and information.

I welcome feedback at drghirlanda@gmail.com.

If you are a Brooklyn College student taking the course for credit, this webpage is not enough. Please look into Blackboard for additional study material and assignments.


Lessons are collected in a YouTube playlist. Some of the leassons will be posted later on during the Fall 2020 semester.

Slides and transcripts

PDF slides from the lectures and transcripts from the videos are available in this Dropbox folder. For each slide, the “Speaker notes” section contains an almost word-for-word transcript of the lesson.

Within each slide, the material is not laid out in the PDFs in the exact same order as it is presented in the lesson, but everything is understandable with reference to the Speaker notes.

YouTube provides automatic captioning of the videos, but I have not edited captions (yet) and they are sometimes inaccurate, especially for technical terms.


The course will eventually comprise around 50 lessons, starting with ~10 core lessons on the basics of animal learning, including Pavlovian and instrumental conditioning. From this core, one can go in different directions to learn about animal learning theory, animal memory, interactions between genes and learning, decision making, conditioned reinforcement and action sequence learning. The course also includes applications to animal training and human health (addiction, phobias, placebo effects, and others).

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