For many owners and trainers, verbal markers are utilized first and foremost before a clicker. While a verbal “yes” is effective, it doesn’t quite beat out using a clicker for precise communication. In the article “Amygdala: the Neurophysiology of Clicker Training” by Karen Pryor, it explains how the clicker is interpreted slightly differently and more effectively than verbal markers.
Clicker Training Research
The brain functions in such a manner that sharp, sudden stimuli is interpreted more quickly and through a different pathway than normal every day sounds. This allows the animal to have a quick reflex response to potentially dangerous situations. The click is considered to be a sharp, sudden sound which is processed quickly through the amygdala before the cortex (thinking part).
How It Relates To Learning
Fear responses that have been conditioned are also established in the amygdala. This allows animals to quickly understand what is dangerous in the world and avoid similar situations in the future. Scary situations are quickly stored in long-retention memory.
Karen Pryor and her colleague, Barbara Schoening, hypothesize that clicker training establishes “similar patterns of very rapid learning, long retention, and emotional surges, albeit positive emotions rather than fear.” Essentially, clicker training evokes strong happy emotions from animals while being interpreted more quickly than verbal markers could be.