Ivan Pavlov
Researched and written by:  Stephen DiCarlo
I attest that the following biography is a product of my own original work.

     Ivan Petrovich Pavlov was born on September 14, 1849, in the town of Ryazan where his father was a village priest.  His father, Peter Dmitrievich Pavlov was a much-respected dean and preacher in one of the best parishes in Ryazan.  Pavlov inherited many of his fatherís characteristics such as a love for learning.  He enjoyed reading literature as well as scientific writing.  Pavlov would read every book twice to get the most out of it.  He entered the theological seminary intending to prepare for the priesthood, but once he had read Darwinís theory, Pavlov changed his mind. 
     Pavlov graduated from the Medico-Chirurgical Academy on December 19, 1879.  Impelled by his overwhelming interest in physiology, he decided to continue his studies.  Pavlov was involved with important experiments on the augmentor nerves of the heart.  He presented this work as his thesis for the degree of Doctor of Medicine, which he received on May 23, 1883.  Pavlov was made a lecturer in physiology at the Military-Medical Academy on April 24, 1884, and it was about eight months later that he left for two years study abroad (Babkin, 1949).
     On May 1, 1881, about a year after graduating from the Military-Medical Academy, Pavlov married Seraphima Vasilievna Karchevskaya, whose family lived in Rostov-on-the-don.  She was a true friend and companion to Pavlov and understood and appreciated him.  Pavlov, being so little aware of everyday problems, in many respects depended on her completely.  She was a very religious woman and in the beginning of their marriage they made a pact that she would attend to all his needs and take care of him as long as he did not smoke, drink, and only socialized on the weekends.  She first had a miscarriage, said to be due to her having to run after her very fast-walking husband.  Then they had a son, Wirchik, who died very suddenly as a child.  After that tragedy, they had three sons, Viladimir, Victor and Vsevolod.  The first ten years of their marriage were hard because they had many financial difficulties.  It was not until Pavlov received the chair of pharmacology in the Military-Medical Academy in 1890 and in the following year the directorship of the Department of Physiology in the Institute of Experimental Medicine that life became easier for them (Schultz & Schultz, 2000). 
     It was at the Institute of Experimental Medicine in the years 1891-1900 that Pavlov did the bulk of his research on the physiology of digestion.  Pavlovís research into the physiology of digestion lead him to create a science of conditioned reflexes. His discoveries opened a new era; making it possible to study all psychic activity objectively, instead of resorting to subjective methods.  It was now possible to investigate by experimental means the most complex interrelations between an organism and its external environment.  On the laws governing the activity of living organisms, Pavlov deduced three principles for the theory of reflexes; the principle of determinism, the principle of analysis and synthesis, and the principle of structure.  The development of these principles by Pavlov and his school helped greatly towards the building-up of a scientific theory of medicine and towards the discovery of laws governing the functioning of the organism as a whole.  Pavlovís brilliant research won him worldwide recognition. Pavlov was awarded the Noble Prize for the physiology of digestion in December 1904.  He received the award in Stockholm which was presented to him by the king of Sweden (Babkin, 1949). 
     Psychic secretion was Pavlovís term for the gastric juices that pour out in response to stimulation of the mouth by food.  To reach the conditioned reflex, concentration lies in stimuli that act upon the animal from a distance (for example the sight or sound of food).  As Pavlov was well aware, this crosses physiology and psychology.  Pavlov hesitated for a long time before he devoted his full attention to conditioned reflexes, which he first noticed during his work on the digestive system. 
     Pavlov sought to demonstrate that reflexes of the brain could be associated with environmental stimuli, and as a consequence these stimuli themselves became capable of eliciting the same reflexes.  A familiar example is of dogs salivating upon hearing a bell that they have associated with food.  In essence, the unconditioned stimulus (food; a stimulus that the animal responds to without previous experience) has been associated with a conditioned stimulus (the bell; a stimulus that initially has no inherent significance for the animal), and the animal now responds to the bell by salivating; that is, as if it were food.  Pavlovís research on the conditioned reflex became the model for a great deal of research in American psychology, which regarded learning and conditioning as the major concerns.  This model was extended to all subdisciplines within psychology (Babkin, 1949). 
     Studying the conditioned reflexes Pavlov came to the necessity to isolate completely the experimental dog from any exterior influences during the experiment.  For this purpose he made a project of very special construction named the Tower of Silence.  It had eight experimental soundproof cameras, separated by spiral staircases and passages with noiseless covering.  The walls and window glasses were very thick.  Within the camera there is another camera with a double door.  During the experiment the dog was placed into the inside camera.  Vibration, noise, temperature extremes, odors, and drafts were eliminated.  Pavlov wanted nothing to influence the experimental animals except the conditioning stimuli to which he exposed them (Schultz & Schultz, 2000). 
     Pavlov taught a great school of physiologists, which produced many distinguished pupils.  He left the richest scientific legacy; a brilliant group of pupils, who would continue developing the ideas of their master, and a host of followers all over the world. Ivan Pavlovís classic experiments with conditioned reflexes established a vital link between physiology and psychology, between brain and mind.  This account of his life and works follows the development of Pavlovís theories of brain function, behavior, and personality based on the concept of conditioning.  Ivan Pavlov died in Leningrad on February 27, 1936. 


Babkin, B., ďPavlov: A Biography,Ē The University of Chicago Press, 1949. 

Schultz, D. P., Schultz, S. E., "The History of Modern Psychology," Harcourt College Publishers, 2000. 




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