Ivan Petrovich Pavlov was born to a Russian Orthodox priestly family in
Ryazan in September 1849. He began his education locally but
later progressed to a seminary and then to the University of St.
Petersburg where he completed courses in Physiology and Medicine.
Following his graduation from the University and from the
Military Academy of Medicine in St. Petersburg he continued
further studies in Breslau and Leipzig in Germany.
After the completion of some two years of studies in Germany
(1884-1886) he returned to St. Petersburg taking up a junior post
in Physiology at the University. In or around 1890 he was
appointed to a professorship of Pharmacology in the Institute of
Experimental Medicine at St Petersburg. In this role he also
functioned as the head of the Physiology department.
Whilst Ivan Pavlov was involved with physiological researches
with dogs for several years it was only in or or around 1889 that
his famous dog research experiments with reflex conditioning or
classical conditioning were begun. These experiments were
subsequently continued over thirty years.
In 1904 Ivan Pavlov was awarded a Nobel prize in Physiology
and Medicine in relation to his researches in the area of
digestive processes. He had become interested in the relationship
between salivation and the digestive process. Quite apart from
finding that saliva was of the first importance as an aid to
digestion he also noticed that dogs that had been familiarised
with the pre-feeding routines in his research facility began to
salivate apparently in association with certain pre-feeding
routines being initiated.
In order to explicitly validate his observations he began to
feed his dogs in association with the ringing of a bell. After a
certain time the dogs were shown to salivate profusely in
association with the ringing bell where the actual sight or smell
of food was not also present. Pavlov regarded this salivation as
being a conditioned reflex and designated the process by
which the dogs had picked up this reflex classical
Despite seeming to have been personally opposed to Communism
his fame was such that the Soviet government built a specialist
research laboratory to accomodate his studies in 1935. It
happened however that Ivan Pavlov did not derive much benefit
from this new facility as he passed on in 1936.