The dolphin squeal

gray and brass metal dolphin pool decor

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The toddler enjoys playing with others. When she is excited, she lets out the cutest little high pitched stuttering squeal. It reminds me of the dolphin from Flipper. (I wrote in the bio that I am old.)

I first heard it in her excitement at learning the cat was near. For a while it was the cat’s warning sign the new walker was on her way.

It comes out while horseplaying. The best, is chasing her around the house saying, “I am going to tickle you!” She does her dolphin squeal and runs away. I had a proud dad moment when she paused to try and close a door behind her to impede my chase. Great tactic.

Over the weekend, we attended a baby shower. The hosts have a friendly dog who stands just under eye-level for the toddler. The dog licked Fleur’s face because, naturally, there was food still on it. That. THAT. Got the longest squeal I have heard yet. And a quarter hour of following the dog around trying to get in her face and receive another face lick.

I am finding the kiddo is a daredevil. Things I kind of expected to be shocking and make her scared don’t. She instead lets out a squeal and wants more. Greaaaaaaaaaaat. Dopamine addict.

 

Causation

fb_img_1552696891627Fleur has gleeful look when adults make weird sounds before doing something funny. Nose boops, tickles, and the like. She loves the stuff from people she likes. And doing it well, is a good way into her favorite people list.

Dopamine is thought of as the reward neurotransmitter. But, it is more complicated. It is what we get anticipating a reward. Say, you are playing a video game, dopamine surges to ensure you focus and persevere to achieve the level or match.

The noise right before tells her it is coming. Classical conditioning pairs a neutral stimulus with a desired one. The prior one is neutral the first time, but after she has paired it with the desired stimulus and anticipates the desired one. It seems like she enjoys the anticipation almost as much.

In getting mobile and manipulating objects, she is learning to use operant conditioning as well. She exerts her will on the world around her. This takes the form of doing the same thing over and over both using the same technique to confirm it works and adjusting to see what might work better. The other day she was trying to get into my tablet and tapping different spots to see how it reacted. You could see the Scientific Method in action: hypothesis, design test, execute test, evaluate result, new hypothesis.

Something I never thought about in university psychology classes was the impressive nature of linking things into causal chains. If this, then that. Over and over. Both forms of conditioning require understanding causation. The sponge that is Fleur’s brain seems to seek out understanding causation. And happiness to me is creating an environment for her try things and figure out how they work.