Ivan Petrovich Pavlov (1849 – 27 February 1936) was a Russian physiologist known primarily for his work in classical conditioning. From his childhood days Pavlov demonstrated intellectual brilliance along with an unusual energy which he named "the instinct for research". Inspired by the progressive ideas which D. I. Pisarev, the most eminent of the Russian literary critics of the 1860s and I. M. Sechenov, the father of Russian physiology, were spreading, Pavlov abandoned his religious career and decided to devote his life to science. In 1870 he enrolled in the physics and mathematics faculty at the University of Saint Petersburg to take the course in natural science. Ivan Pavlov devoted his life to the study of physiology and sciences, making several remarkable discoveries and ideas that were passed on from generation to generation. He won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1904.
Ivan Pavlov, the eldest of eleven children, was born in Ryazan (now the Central Federal District) of the Russian Empire. His father, Peter Dmitrievich Pavlov (1823–1899), was a village priest. His mother, Varvara Ivanovna Uspenskaya (1826–1890), was a devoted homemaker. As a child, Pavlov willingly participated in house duties such as doing the dishes and taking care of his siblings. He loved to garden, ride his bicycle, row, swim, and play gorodki; he devoted his summer vacations to these activities. Although able to read by the age of 7, Pavlov was seriously injured when he fell from a high wall onto stone pavement; he did not undergo formal schooling until he was 11 years old as a result of his injuries.
Pavlov attended and graduated from the Ryazan Church School before entering the local theological seminary. However, in 1870, Pavlov left the seminary without graduating to attend the university at St. Petersburg where he enrolled in the physics and math department and took natural science courses. In his fourth year, his first research project on the physiology of the nerves of the pancreas won him a prestigious university award. In 1875, Pavlov completed his course with an outstanding record and received the degree of Candidate of Natural Sciences. However, impelled by his overwhelming interest in physiology, he decided to continue his studies and proceeded to the Academy of Medical Surgery.
The concept for which Pavlov is famous is the "conditioned reflex" (or in his own words the conditional reflex) he developed jointly with his assistant Ivan Filippovitch Tolochinov in 1901. He had come to learn this concept of conditioned reflex when examining the rates of salivations among dogs. Pavlov had learned then when a buzzer or metronome was sounded in subsequent time with food being presented to the dog in consecutive sequences, the dog will initially salivate when the food is presented. The dog will later come to associate the sound with the presentation of the food and salivate upon the presentation of that stimulus.
As Pavlov's work became known in the West, particularly through the writings of John B. Watson, the idea of "conditioning" as an automatic form of learning became a key concept in the developing specialism of comparative psychology, and the general approach to psychology that underlay it, behaviorism. Pavlov's work with classical conditioning was of huge influence to how humans perceive themselves, their behavior and learning processes and his studies of classical conditioning continue to be central to modern behavior therapy. The British philosopher Bertrand Russell was an enthusiastic advocate of the importance of Pavlov's work for philosophy of mind.
It is popularly believed that Pavlov always signaled the occurrence of food by ringing a bell. However, his writings record the use of a wide variety of stimuli, including electric shocks, whistles, metronomes, tuning forks, and a range of visual stimuli, in addition to the ring of a bell. In 1994, Catania cast doubt on whether Pavlov ever actually used a bell in his famous experiments. Littman tentatively attributed the popular imagery to Pavlov’s contemporaries Vladimir Mikhailovich Bekhterev and John B. Watson. Roger K. Thomas, of the University of Georgia, however, claimed to have found "three additional references to Pavlov's use of a bell that strongly challenge Littman's argument". In reply, Littman suggested that Catania's recollection, that Pavlov did not use a bell in research, was "convincing .. and correct".
In 1964 the eminent psychologist H. J. Eysenck reviewed Pavlov's "Lectures on Conditioned Reflexes" for the British Medical Journal: Volume I - "Twenty-five Years of Objective Study of the Higher Nervous Activity of Animals", Volume II - "Conditioned Reflexes and Psychiatry".
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