Ivan Petrovich Pavlov was an eminent Russian physiologist and psychologist who devised the concept of the conditioned reflex. He conducted a legendary experiment in which he provided training to a hungry dog to drool at the sound of a bell, something which was related to the sight of food.
Pavlov also formulated a similar conceptual theory, highlighting the significance of conditioning and associating human behavior with the nervous system. He won the 1904 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his groundbreaking research on digestive secretions.
Early Life and Education:
Ivan Pavlov was born in Ryazan, Russia. As a young child, he suffered a serious injury, due to which Pavlov spent much of his childhood with his parents in the family home and garden, acquiring various practical skills and a deep interest in natural history. He developed a strong interest in science and the possibility of using science to ameliorate and modify society.
He studied medicine at university under a famed physiologist of the time, S. P. Botkin, who taught him a great deal about the nervous system.
Contributions and Achievements:
Ivan Pavlov conducted neurophysiological experiments with animals for years after receiving his doctorate at the Academy of Medical Surgery. He became fully convinced that human behavior could be understood and explained best in physiological terms rather than in mentalist terms. The legendary experiment for which Pavlov is remembered was when he used the feeding of dogs to establish a number of his key ideas.
Moments before feeding, a bell was rung to measure the dogs’ saliva production when they heard the bell. Pavolv found out that once the dogs had been trained to associate the sound of the bell with food, they would produce saliva, whether or not food followed. The experiment proved that the dogs’ physical response, salivation, was directly related to the stimulus of the bell, hence the saliva production was a stimulus response. The continued increased salivation, even when the dogs had experienced hearing the bell without being later fed, was a conditioned reflex.
The entire process is a prime example of classical conditioning, and it is primarily related to a physical and spontaneous response to some particular conditions that the organism has acquired through association. Behaviorist theory has massively applied these landmark ideas for the explanation of human behaviour.
Later Life and Death:
Ivan Pavlov died on February 27, 1936 in Leningrad, Soviet Union, from natural causes. He was 86 years old.