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Classical C Onditioning Essay

1292 words - 5 pages

Ivan Pavlov and Classical Conditioning

1904 Nobel Prize Winner, Ivan Pavlov was born in Ryazan, Russia on September 14, 1849. Pavlov is best known for his intricate workings with the drooling dog experiment that lead to his further research in conditioning. This experiment, which began in 1889, had an influence on the development of physiologically oriented behaviorist theories of psychology in the early years of the nineteenth century. His work on the physiology of the digestive glands won him the 1904 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine.
CONTRIBUTIONS
Pavlov's first independent work focused on the physiology of the circulation of the blood (Girogian, 1974). He studied the influence of variations in blood volume on blood pressure. He also investigated the nervous control of the heart, and argued that four types of nerves control rhythm and strength of cardiac contractions. It was during this first independent study that Pavlov used unanesthetized, neurologically intact dogs (Girogian, 1974). This method became the mainstay of Pavlov’s methodology.
Pavlov’s second independent work centered primarily around digestion. He started studying digestion as early as 1879, and it was his major focus from 1890 to 1897 (Girogian, 1974). His work was an accumulation of observations on the nervous control of one organ system through the method of chronic experiment (Girogian, 1974). The study of digestion involved developing "fistulas" through which secretions from salivary glands, stomach, the pancreas, and small intestine could be collected (Girogian, 1974). His technique was truly unique in that he did not cut the nerve supply nor contaminate the secretions with food.
The most famous and well-known experiment of Pavlov is that he 'conditioned' dogs to start a salivary response to the sound of a bell. He began by measuring the amount of salivation in response to only food. As the experiments continued, he rang a bell as he presented the food (Girogian, 1974). Again, he noted a salivary response. Finally, by only ringing the bell, Pavlov observed the same response as having presented food to the dogs . . . salivation (Girogian, 1974). These experiments defined what has been a "conditioned response".
CLASSICAL CONDITIONING
     Classical Conditioning is the type of learning made famous by Pavlov's experiments with dogs. In an article titled, An Animal Owner’s Guide to Operant and Classical Conditioning, by Stacy Braslau explained the process of the experiment. Pavlov presented dogs with food, and measured their salivary response (how much they drooled). Then he began ringing a bell just before presenting the food. At first, the dogs did not begin salivating until the food was presented. After a while, however, the dogs began to salivate when the sound of the bell was presented. They learned to associate the sound of the bell with the presentation of the food. As far as their immediate physiological...

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