Ivan Pavlov was born inRyazan, Russia. He began his higher education as a student at the Ryazan Ecclesiastical Seminary, but then dropped out and enrolled in the University of Saint Petersburg to study the natural sciencesand become a physiologist. He received his doctorate in 1879.
In the 1890s, Pavlov was investigating the gastric function of dogs by externalizing a salivary gland so he could collect, measure, andanalyze the saliva and what response it had to food under different conditions. He noticed that the dogs tended to salivate before food was actually delivered to their mouths, and set out to investigatethis "psychic secretion", as he called it.
He decided that this was more interesting than the chemistry of saliva, and changed the focus of his research, carrying out a long series of experiments inwhich he manipulated the stimuli occurring before the presentation of food. He thereby established the basic laws for the establishment and extinction of what he called "conditional reflexes" — i.e.,reflex responses, like salivation, that only occurred conditionally upon specific previous experiences of the animal. These experiments were carried out in the 1900s, and were known to westernscientists through translations of individual accounts, but first became fully available in English in a book published in 1927.
Unlike many pre-revolutionary scientists, Pavlov was highly regarded by theSoviet government, and he was able to continue his research until he reached a considerable age. Moreover, he was praised by Lenin and as a Nobel laureate.
After the murder of Sergei Kirov in...