december memories / 10

NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN (ALMOST)

10th December, 1904 : The Russian physiologist, Ivan Pavlov, received the Nobel Prize today for his researches into how digestion works. However, some scientists believe that his other experiments, not cited, may turn out to be more significant. The prize was awarded for the discovery that nerve messages transmitted via the brain play an important part in the digestive process. Thus when Pavlov severed a dog’s gullet, so that food it chewed never reached its stomach, digestive juices still flowed. Conversely, when he cut appropriate nerves, no juices were produced, although food reached the dog’s stomach normally. Pavlov has moved on to other experiments. He has found that if a bell is regularly rung when a dog is fed, the animal eventually comes to salivate at the sound alone. This conditioned reflex, as Pavlov calls it, could be of major importance in understanding how we learn.

[The conditioned reflex is now well established in the media]

About Avadoro Worden

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