Saturday, October 6, 2007

Domestic Food for Thought : Pavlov & his experiments

drawings by marguerita
by Louise Bourgeois
1. In Science (1923), Pavlov published the following:

The latest experiments (which are not yet finished) show that the conditioned reflexes, i.e., the highest nervous activity, are inherited. At present some experiments on white mice have been completed. Conditioned reflexes to electric bells are formed, so that the animals are trained to run to their feeding place on the ringing of the bell. The following results have been obtained.
The first generation of white mice required 300 lessons. Three hundred times it was necessary to combine the feeding of the mice with the ringing of the bell in order to accustom them to run to the feeding place on hearing the bell ring. The second generation required, for the same result, only 100 lessons. The third generation learned to do it after 30 lessons. The fourth generation required only 10 lessons. The last generation which I saw before leaving Petrograd learned the lesson after 5 repetitions. The sixth generation will be tested after my return. I think it very probable that after some time a new generation of mice will run to the feeding place on hearing the bell with no previous lesson(Pavlov,1923,pp. 360-361).

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