World’s Super Scientists – Pavlov Ivan Petrovich

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A Soviet look at the trio-physiology, phychology and psychiatry – Pavlov Ivan Petrovich
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Scientist Pavlov Ivan Petrovich (1849 to 1936), Russian physiologist and experimental psychologist, best known for the discovery of the ‘conditioned reflexes’, was born in September 1849 in Ryazan in Russia.

In 1879 Scientist Pavlov Ivan Petrovich completed his medical course after graduation from the Military Medical Academy; later he spent two years with Karl Ludwig studying the nerves of the heart.

In 1890 Scientist Pavlov Ivan Petrovich was appointed as Professor of Pharmacology in the Medical Academy; a year later, he became head of the Physiology department at the St. Petersburg Institute of Experimental Method.

Scientist Pavlov Ivan Petrovich Reflex action

A bit of dust elicits sneezing. A particle of food inadvertently entering the wrong way, viz., the windpipe awakens cough, the watch dog of the respiratory tree, to throw it out.

You jump when in danger. When a speck of dust gets into the eye, the eyelids close. All these actions are called reflexes; these occur without the involvement of the will or consciousness.

Scientist Ivan chose the dog’s stomach for his experiments. The dog’s mouth watered not only when given food but also at the sight of food.

Scientist Pavlov Ivan Petrovich made a guess that this could be due to previous experiences, psychological in mind, not merely physiological.

A further step was the discovery of “conditioning” or “conditioned reflex”.He placed a dog in a small sound-proof room. A bell was rung and the food placed before the dog. Saliva used to flow at such instances.

It was noted that saliva dribbled out at the ring of a bell, even when no food was placed! Further, in another experiment it was noted that the dog began salivating at the sight of the experimenter, even though meat powder was not brought and put before it!

Scientist Pavlov Ivan Petrovich showed the correlation between the nervous system and digestive system; he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1904 for his work on digestion.

Scientist Pavlov Ivan Petrovich made a classification of human temperaments, based on his experimental study on neuroses in dogs.

The counterpart of his experimentation on animals (dogs) is an eye- opener scene of such reflexes appearing on the dining table in every-day life, as to how appetite is influenced by the emotional status of the individual – the longing for the husband to be served by his wife, pleasant atmosphere, etc. ‘How fickle appetite is!’
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Scientist Pavlov Ivan Petrovich Inroads into Psychiatry

When a dog is conditioned to a state of confusion, it exhibits nervous breakdown; Pavlov opined that he could recondition the dog to cure it. This will apply to human beings also.

A child may throw temper tantrums when he desires ‘attention’; thus the child knows how to condition the parents.

Ivan coined the phrase “higher nervous activity” or behavior. He looked forward to “a legitimate marriage of physiology and psychology”.

Scientist Pavlov Ivan Petrovich became a severe critic of French, German and American schools of psychology including the physiologist Sherrington, for not agreeing with his views.

Scientist Pavlov Ivan Petrovich died in 1936 having fulfilled his mission in life.

“When he rang the bells for the dogs, he got a response that set psychologists on the path to a new understanding of human behavior.”