Iwan P. Pawlow

Iwan Petrowitsch Pawlow (Russian Иван Петрович Павлов, scient. Transliteration Ivan Petrovič Pavlov; * 14. Septemberjul./ 26. September 1849greg. in Rjasan; † 27. February 1936 in Leningrad) was a Russian physician and physiologist.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1904 for his work on the digestive glands. He also developed important foundations for behavioral research and thus laid the foundations for behaviorist learning theories. The best-known bearer of his name is probably Pavlov’s dog, on which he demonstrated classical conditioning.

He was convinced that behavior can be based on reflexes and discovered the principle of classical conditioning. He distinguished between unconditioned (also known as natural) and conditioned reflexes (acquired through learning).

He is probably best known for his so-called Pavlov’s dog: a research project that emerged directly from his Nobel Prize-winning physiological studies. In these studies, Pavlov discovered that a dog’s saliva secretion does not begin with the eating process, but already at the sight of the food. Another stimulus, such as a ringtone, can also trigger the secretion of saliva and other digestive juices if it regularly precedes feeding.

One of Pavlov’s dogs

Pavlov explained what happened by the repeated coincidence of the stimulus with the subsequent feeding. At some point, the previously neutral stimulus is sufficient to trigger saliva secretion. Pavlov described this object learning as a conditioned reflex.
Pavlov’s achievement was not only to have found and precisely described the “conditioned reflex”, but also to have researched the laws of inhibition and excitation processes in the nervous system and their role in the analysis of the external environment, as well as the internal organs. He showed the many possibilities of the central nervous system in creating a balance between the external environment and the organism. But he also found out where the limits lie. He discovered how disorders arise in the nervous system and was thus able to experimentally create and cure neuroses in dogs. From this he drew conclusions to explain the mechanism of a number of mental illnesses and their cure.


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