Friday, November 21, 2014

The Monster Ivan Pavlov

A nice article on Ivan Pavlov in The New Yorker notes that Pavlov was a bit of a monster:
Pavlov’s research originally had little to do with psychology; it focussed on the ways in which eating excited salivary, gastric, and pancreatic secretions. To do that, he developed a system of “sham” feeding. Pavlov would remove a dog’s esophagus and create an opening, a fistula, in the animal’s throat, so that, no matter how much the dog ate, the food would fall out and never make it to the stomach. By creating additional fistulas along the digestive system and collecting the various secretions, he could measure their quantity and chemical properties in great detail. That research won him the 1904 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine...

... Pavlov was constantly stymied by the difficulty of keeping his subjects alive after operating on them. One particularly productive dog had evidently set a record by producing active pancreatic juice for ten days before dying.

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