From the machine to the ghost within: Pavlov's transition from digestive physiology to conditional reflexes

Daniel P. Todes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

I. P. Pavlov's transition from research on digestive physiology to investigations of conditional reflexes involved related departures from two firmly established traditions in his laboratory. One was conceptual: The standardized line of investigation that Pavlov had applied fruitfully to the gastric and pancreatic glands proved inapplicable to the salivary glands, leading him to reevaluate his approach to "psychic secretion." The dynamics and nature of this reevaluation owed much to a second departure, this one from a standard laboratory practice: Confronted with a conceptual problem that he recognized as psychological and, therefore, beyond his expertise, Pavlov recruited outside experts to help him resolve it, thus importing perspectives from contemporary psychology and psychiatry. The important role of insights from these two disciplines in the birth of research on conditional reflexes has been obscured by Pavlov's tale about this episode - a tale repeated uncritically by subsequent commentators. The intellectual terms of Pavlov's transition are evident in the phrase he chose to replace "psychic secretion" - "uslovnyi refleks." This term is commonly translated into English as "conditioned reflex," but its original meaning for Pavlov is better translated as "conditional reflex."

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)947-955
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Volume52
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1997

Fingerprint

Digestive System Physiological Phenomena
Reflex
Psychology
Classical Conditioning
Gastric Mucosa
Salivary Glands
Research
Psychiatry
Parturition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

Cite this

From the machine to the ghost within : Pavlov's transition from digestive physiology to conditional reflexes. / Todes, Daniel P.

In: American Psychologist, Vol. 52, No. 9, 1997, p. 947-955.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{d680a0e27d3c41fab41cb0eb1758a92c,
title = "From the machine to the ghost within: Pavlov's transition from digestive physiology to conditional reflexes",
abstract = "I. P. Pavlov's transition from research on digestive physiology to investigations of conditional reflexes involved related departures from two firmly established traditions in his laboratory. One was conceptual: The standardized line of investigation that Pavlov had applied fruitfully to the gastric and pancreatic glands proved inapplicable to the salivary glands, leading him to reevaluate his approach to {"}psychic secretion.{"} The dynamics and nature of this reevaluation owed much to a second departure, this one from a standard laboratory practice: Confronted with a conceptual problem that he recognized as psychological and, therefore, beyond his expertise, Pavlov recruited outside experts to help him resolve it, thus importing perspectives from contemporary psychology and psychiatry. The important role of insights from these two disciplines in the birth of research on conditional reflexes has been obscured by Pavlov's tale about this episode - a tale repeated uncritically by subsequent commentators. The intellectual terms of Pavlov's transition are evident in the phrase he chose to replace {"}psychic secretion{"} - {"}uslovnyi refleks.{"} This term is commonly translated into English as {"}conditioned reflex,{"} but its original meaning for Pavlov is better translated as {"}conditional reflex.{"}",
author = "Todes, {Daniel P.}",
year = "1997",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "52",
pages = "947--955",
journal = "American Psychologist",
issn = "0003-066X",
publisher = "American Psychological Association Inc.",
number = "9",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - From the machine to the ghost within

T2 - Pavlov's transition from digestive physiology to conditional reflexes

AU - Todes, Daniel P.

PY - 1997

Y1 - 1997

N2 - I. P. Pavlov's transition from research on digestive physiology to investigations of conditional reflexes involved related departures from two firmly established traditions in his laboratory. One was conceptual: The standardized line of investigation that Pavlov had applied fruitfully to the gastric and pancreatic glands proved inapplicable to the salivary glands, leading him to reevaluate his approach to "psychic secretion." The dynamics and nature of this reevaluation owed much to a second departure, this one from a standard laboratory practice: Confronted with a conceptual problem that he recognized as psychological and, therefore, beyond his expertise, Pavlov recruited outside experts to help him resolve it, thus importing perspectives from contemporary psychology and psychiatry. The important role of insights from these two disciplines in the birth of research on conditional reflexes has been obscured by Pavlov's tale about this episode - a tale repeated uncritically by subsequent commentators. The intellectual terms of Pavlov's transition are evident in the phrase he chose to replace "psychic secretion" - "uslovnyi refleks." This term is commonly translated into English as "conditioned reflex," but its original meaning for Pavlov is better translated as "conditional reflex."

AB - I. P. Pavlov's transition from research on digestive physiology to investigations of conditional reflexes involved related departures from two firmly established traditions in his laboratory. One was conceptual: The standardized line of investigation that Pavlov had applied fruitfully to the gastric and pancreatic glands proved inapplicable to the salivary glands, leading him to reevaluate his approach to "psychic secretion." The dynamics and nature of this reevaluation owed much to a second departure, this one from a standard laboratory practice: Confronted with a conceptual problem that he recognized as psychological and, therefore, beyond his expertise, Pavlov recruited outside experts to help him resolve it, thus importing perspectives from contemporary psychology and psychiatry. The important role of insights from these two disciplines in the birth of research on conditional reflexes has been obscured by Pavlov's tale about this episode - a tale repeated uncritically by subsequent commentators. The intellectual terms of Pavlov's transition are evident in the phrase he chose to replace "psychic secretion" - "uslovnyi refleks." This term is commonly translated into English as "conditioned reflex," but its original meaning for Pavlov is better translated as "conditional reflex."

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=0000308674&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=0000308674&partnerID=8YFLogxK

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:0000308674

VL - 52

SP - 947

EP - 955

JO - American Psychologist

JF - American Psychologist

SN - 0003-066X

IS - 9

ER -