I Promise Salivation isn’t random Have you ever experience a reaction to something involuntarily? Like flinching when a balloon is being blown up or your teeth starting to ache when you walk into a medical building. These are all examples of a conditioned responses. You have probably been near a balloon when it had blown up or you recognize the smell of a medical building as being the same as a dentist office therefore your teeth start to ache, or you involuntarily flinch. Even though this is recognized, today, as conditioning, it didn’t start out that Way. Nearly 100 years ago, Ivan Petrovitch Pavlov, a prominent Russian physiologist, made a groundbreaking discovery while completing another experiment. It was a discovery that would be instrumental in for the science of psychology, a relatively new science at in the late 1800s. He was testing the amount of salivation that dogs produced when different types of food or non-food items were put into their mouths. In doing so he discovered that said dogs began to salivate not only before the stimuli or its odor reaches its mouth but
also when no digestive stimuli was presented at all. Unconditioned response are inborn and automatic, they don’t require any learning, or conditioning. Pavlov determined that there must be two kinds of reflexes and the question that he wanted answered was this: since conditioned responses are not inborn, exactly how are they acquired?
THE EXPERIMENT Pavlov theorized that the dogs had learned, through experience, to expect food after certain signals were presented. While it wasn’t the signal stimuli that naturally produced salivation in the dogs they did start to associate it with food thus causing the salivation response. With funds donated by “Keen and public-spirited Moscow businessmen Pavlov was able to build a special laboratory at the institution of experimental medical to test his hypothesis. The laboratory was made completely soundproof allowing for complete isolation of his subjects. Therefore, a
specific stimulus could be administered, and the response could be recorded. He choice food as the unconditioned stimuli he just needed a neutral stimulus, something completely unrelated to food, he used that sound of a metronome. Over many trials the dogs were exposed to the sound of the metronome and then immediately presented with food. It was observed that after several trials the dogs began to salivate at the sound of the metronome, before their food at been presented. Pavlov and his associates went even further with using different unconditioned and neutral stimuli, like the odor of vanilla being presented with the taste of lemon juice. They also found that if the neutral stimuli was presented after the conditioned stimuli then no conditioning would take place. THE FINDINGS Pavlov’s findings were universally accepted and remain relatively unchanged to this day. It is used to explain a wide variety of human behavior, everything from phobias to why people dislike certain foods.
Published on Mar 10, 2018