Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Pavlov's Dogs

Through his studies in the early part of last century, Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov demonstrated that reflex actions can be conditioned. His experiments involved in feeding a dog always (and only) when a bell rang in the back ground. Once the dog got used to the combination, he removed the food and rang only the bell. Poor dog started salivating on hearing the bell ring. This proved that a reflex action (salivating at the sight of the food) could also be cultivated by conditioning the brain to some other stimulus.

What I fail to understand is the need for all the dogs in the experiment. This conditioning of different stimulus happens to us humans every day. Doesn't it?

Don't we all remember our childhood when the sound of bell ringing always reminded us of ice cream?

Haven't you slowed down and looked around even while walking on busy crowded sidewalk... just when you caught the scent of Ralph Lauren in the air - just because you associate that fragrance with your wife (girl friend)?

When you are waiting desperately for a letter, doesn't the sight of the postman create the excitement in your heart irrespective of how many days he has no letter to give you. Some times just the sound of the cycle bell is enough to get your hopes (of getting that letter) high.

There are different sounds that we have got so accustomed to and readily associate them to totally unrelated feelings. Cell phone manufacturers have used it effectively to associate their signature ring tones to happy feelings. There is a Nokia AD that is shot in black and white... Half way through the advertisement, there is a phone ring and festivities of Holi (festival of colours) begin. I liked this AD because it tries to connect the feeling of being colorful, festivities and happiness to that one phone call. Isn't it exactly the same feeling that a phone call (the ring tone) from your loved ones trigger in your mind?

If these reactions of the mind are indeed reflexes (not under voluntary control) then each one of us is just like a "Pavlov's Dog". But unlike those dogs, its our mind/heart that is doing the trick on us (and not just chemical reflexes).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

mind is just some chemical reactions which fire electrical impulses :)