- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: Dover Publications (September 16, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0486430936
- ISBN-13: 978-0486430935
- Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.2 x 0.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,175,365 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Conditioned Reflexes Paperback – September 16, 2003
Titles for medical residents
Featured Lippincott resources for medical residents. See more
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Customers who bought this item also bought
Browse award-winning titles. See more
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top customer reviews
Built upon a series of lecture-demonstrations given by the author, this book reports a synopsis of over 25 years of ground-breaking experimental research on the activity of the cerebral cortex in dogs, carried out by Prof. Pavlov and his many associates. Carried out via an objective physiological methodology (e.g., by measuring salivary flow), this research into the functional activity of the minds of dogs is fully objective; it does not depend on any attempt to interpret the dogs' behavior in terms of conjectures regarding their `thoughts', and thus avoids the perils of human subjective interpretation and anthropomorphization.
An enormous number of different external stimuli were employed in Pavlov's conditioned-response experiments, ranging from bells, whistles, musical notes, combinations of musical notes, gurgling water, lights, flashing lights, letters, geometrical shapes, colors, shadings, simple objects, patterns, etc., along with many combinations of the above, and including even blank time intervals. As might be expected from the dogs' natural inquisitiveness to all variations in their real-world environment, all such stimuli were effective, and showed a hierarchy in relative strength. In fact, any thing or any change that dogs could detect was found to be a workable stimulus on which to instill a conditioned response. And this enabled the experimenters to explore the natural range of dogs' detection abilities and discrimination in regard to light and sound, colors and frequencies, etc., which were largely unknown at the time.
CR systematically details the results of a great number of experiments, organized to tell a developing story and advance a steadily developing understanding of the dogs natural capabilities and behavioral facts. The detailed experimental results are crucial for allowing the reader to understand and judge for himself the level of certitude of conclusions, the range of possibilities, natural variabilities and reliabilities, etc. It is a fascinating look into the hitherto unknown world of the dog's mind.
Pavlov also found that the dogs quickly, routinely, and efficiently developed an enormous number and variety of conditioned reflexes, built upon their innate, "instinctive" "unconditioned reflexes", and that , once developed, they efficiently exhibited or inhibited these depending on their recent experience regarding their efficacy. Thus the dogs continually "tuned" their responses to adapt to recent experience.
One can break a conditioned-response event into three basic parts. First, is the actual real-world stimulus which is detected by the dogs, say a particular musical note. Third, and last, is the actual (measured) response (or responses) by the dog, say salivary gland activity. Of greatest interest is what occurs second, in between those two. At the time of Pavlov's work, it was already known that the "central processing unit" lay in the brain, and that nerve receptors, nerves, etc., carried relevant signals to and from the brain. That is, external sensations were transmitted to the brain by nerve impulses to be processed, and the signals which caused the dogs' observed responses were transmitted to the dogs' muscles, salivary glands, etc., from the brain. Thus, it is useful to include these "dumb" neural aspects as merely part of the observed stimulus and response, so that we can focus on the brain.
Once, say, the optic nerve carries its stimulus to the brain, the raw sensory impulse is processed by the brain into the actual image we "see", much like the cable signal coming in to a TV set is processed by the TV into the image we see. In modern terms, the brain acts as a "signal processing unit", and this is true for all of our external sensory sensations, sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. But the brain actually does much more than just produce an image, automatically, or nearly so, so that we are largely unaware of it. For example, it takes the image and recognizes the various colors and objects in it, detects motion, focuses on changes and unexpected objects, etc. Thus, it is useful to recognize the difference between what we called the "sensation" coming into the brain, and the fully "signal processed" result, which may be called "perception".
Perception is key to animals, and humans, in the real world. The more one can perceive of its environment, the more finely tuned its power of perception, the better able it can be to respond (adapt) accordingly. If an eland remains oblivious until it feels the lion's teeth, it is too late to flee. Better to run away when it sees the lion stalking, or better yet when it first catches the flicker of interest in the lion's eye. Pavlov found that the exquisite fine tuning of dogs' conditioned-response capabilities takes place in the cerebral hemispheres, along with most of the general conditioned-response activity.
Given a finely tuned and nuanced perceptional capability, a correspondingly nuanced conditioned-response capability requires a commensurate ability to determine an appropriately nuanced response. The ability to develop or choose an appropriate response may in general be called, say in Kantian epistemological terms, "Understanding", which is composed of the understanding proper, reason, and the power of judgment. Or just call it intelligence or reason or judgment. Both nuanced perceptual and nuanced response capabilities obviously also depend (a la Kant) on the basic structure of the mind, and its conformity with its real-world environment ... a conformity which is a natural product of evolutionary development.
Thus, the ability of an animal to survive or thrive in the real world is dependent on its ability to fine-tune its conditioned response arsenal, its "habits", to the needs of its current and constantly changing real-world environment. The key "mental" processes are perception and judgment (response).
Thus, it becomes clear: Dogs are largely Pavlo-Kantian "automata", conditioned-reaction "engines" built on their basic evolutionary sensory apparatus and mind structure (including their innate, unconditioned responses).
And so are we. Our vaunted intelligence is merely a more advanced pair of cerebral hemispheres, giving us a more delicately nuanced perceptual capability and a more nuanced capability to "judge" an appropriate response.
Finally, we can combine the two capabilities by recognizing the ability to determine an appropriate response simply as the ability to "perceive" an appropriate response to the circumstance: that approaching lion looks hungry, I see myself running away. Thus the intelligence of our dogs, and ourselves, along with other animals, consists in our evolved ability to perceive our real-world circumstances and appropriate actions with which to respond to them. Intelligence equals perception. Higher intelligence equals increased perceptual capabilities.
An experimental physicist at work differs from a dog in the woods only in the degree of sophistication of his perceptual apparatus. A theoretical physicist hunched over his formulas differs from a dog in the woods only in the degree of sophistication of his perceptual apparatus.
Skeptical? That's only natural, and as it should be. Read the book to really understand all this, in its wonderful depth. Read the book thoughtfully and you will be glad you did. Enjoy!
"Pavlov's dogs" have an almost legendary status in textbooks on psychology. What he did was to perform an operation on the dogs consisting of "the transplantation of the opening of the salivary duct from its natural place on the mucous membrane of the mouth to the outside skin." (Pg. 18) Thus, he was able to "precisely" measure their rate of salivation for his experiments, and condition them to salivate at the ringing of a bell, which preceded their being fed. (Later, he admitted that "This method naturally suffers from fundamental disadvantages, since it involves the roughest forms of mechanical interference and the crude dismembering of an organ of a most delicate structure and function.") (Pg. 320)
Here are some representative quotations from his book:
Conditioned reflexes "proceed according to rigid laws as do any other physiological processes, and must be regarded as being in every sense a part of the physiological activity of living beings." (Pg. 25)
"The method of conditioned reflexes, however, gives over the study of the whole of this most important function of nervous analysis into the hands of the purely experimental physiologist. With the help of conditioned reflexes the scope and limits of the analysing functions in different animals can be exactly determined, and the laws regulating this function made clear." (Pg. 111)
"But what our experiments do most emphatically refute is the doctrine of special 'association' centres, or, more generally, of the existence in the hemispheres of some special area on which the higher functions of the nervous system depend." (Pg. 376)
"It would be the height of presumption to regard these first steps in elucidating the physiology of the cortex as solving the intricate problems of the higher psychic activities in man, when in fact the present stage of our work no detailed application of its results to man is yet permissible." (Pg. 395)
"I do not feel either safe or justified in proceeding in my comparison beyond the above observations, and these should not be taken as in any sense explaining the incalculably complex systems observed in man, but only as showing that a comparison of a general nature can even now be made." (Pg. 401)
"I want to repeat that all the experiments ... which have set as their object a purely physiological interpretation of the activity of the higher nervous system, I regard as being in the nature only of a preliminary inquiry, which has however, I fully believe, entirely justified its inception." (PG. 410-411)