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Pavlov, Ivan Petrovitch

  • Institute for Experimental Medicine


(1849–1936) Russian physiologist, whose classic works in the field of digestion were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1904. He also discovered conditioned reflexes and studied the physiology of higher nervous activity.
Encyclopedia of Life Sciences
Pavlov, Ivan Petrovitch, code A2454
Victor Klimenko
Head, Pavlov Department of Physiology
Institute for Experimental Medicine
Academician Pavlov Street, 12
Saint Petersburg, 197376, Russia
Tel.: 7(812)2349937;
Fax: 7(812)2349326;
Jury Golikov
Head, History Museum of Institute
Academician Pavlov Street, 12
Institute for Experimental Medicine
Saint Petersburg, 197376, Russia
Tel.: 7(812)2342900;
Pavlov, Ivan Petrovitch
Victor Klimenko, Jury Golikov, Institute for Experimental Medicine, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Nobel Prize, physiology of digestion, condition reflex.
(1849-1936) Russian physiologist, whose classic works in the field of digestion were awarded the
Nobel Prize in 1904, author of the study on physiology of the higher nervous activity.
Ivan Petrovitch Pavlov was born to the family of the priest in the town of Riasan on
September, 26, 1849. His father Petr Dmitrievitch (1823 1899) was a well educated
person. His mother Varvara Ivanovna (1826 – 1890) came from the priest family, too.
I.P. Pavlov was the eldest son followed by 9 other children, though 5 of them died
in their babyhood. Pavlov obtained contemporary education at cleric seminary.
Pavlov was deeply influenced by the ideas of Russian democratic writers
(Belinskiy, Pisarev, Tchernishevskiy, Dobrolubov) and by the studies in physiology by H.
Lewis, L. Herman and, especially, by I.M. Setchenov. To pursue this new interest he
entered St. Petersburg University, the faculty of mathematics and physics, the
department of natural science. That was the choice which defined his further life – that
of an atheist and scientist.
Pavlov’s scientific activities started during his being at the University under the
guidance of Prof. F. Ovsiannikov and Prof. I. Tsion, and lay in the field of physiology of
In 1875 Pavlov got his Ph.D. at the University and entered Medical and Surgical
Academy as a third year student (in 1881 it was turned into Military Medical Academy
(MMA)). Studying at the Academy he went on with his experiments in physiology under
the guidance of Prof. K. Ustimovitch. Being acknowledged as a masterful experimenter
Pavlov was invited by famous Russian internist Prof. S.P. Botkin (1878-1890) to work at
the Laboratory of Physiology, which was a part of the Clinic of Internal Medicine headed
by Botkin. Pavlov both carried on with his scientific studies there and guided the work of
a group of students.
After his cum eximia laude graduation from the Academy Pavlov was given a
position at the Institute of Doctors (a part of the Academy) and later on he was sent
abroad for 2 years to develop his skills and widen his knowledge.
On May, 25, 1881 Pavlov married Serafima Karchevskaia (1859 1947), a
daughter of a navy doctor. He and his wife had 4 children, and his attitude towards the
family was most serious: he insisted on all his children being educated well.
Pavlov’s wife was the only religious member of the family. Being an atheist Pavlov
at the same time was very tolerant and often gave a hand to people paying no attention
to the confession they belong to.
Pavlov brought his love for fine arts into family: he owned a large library and a
good collection of paintings. They all liked music, and musical parties were a regular
event in the drawing room of their flat.
During his two-year stay abroad Pavlov studied theories and researches by prof.
R. Heidenhain, K. Ludwig, and others. On his return to Russia he literally became the
head of the laboratory at MMA. He worked in that small laboratory for 10 years. His own
scientific data accumulated during this period he presented as his Doctoral Thesis
“Centrifugal Nerves of the Heart” (1882). After that he turned to his study of physiology
of digestion again. At the same time he delivered two lectures to the students as
probation and was given a position of Private-docent at the Department of Physiology
1886 1890 was a very fruitful period for Pavlov. Though he had no officially
assigned assistants and was armed with new ideas and with his personal charisma
only, Pavlov carried out scientific studies of great value. He was the first to demonstrate
that the heart and lungs, when taken as a whole complex from the animal, and
connected with special tubes in particular sequence could not only function for quite a
long time, but also could be used as a model to test effects of medicines.
On December, 1, 1888 Medical Faculty of Warsaw University awarded Pavlov with
the Prize of Adam Hoinatsky for his work “Centrifugal Nerves of the Heart” based on the
materials of his Doctoral Thesis. The Prize was Pavlov’s first scientific award.
In 1888 and several times later Pavlov applied for the position of a Professor,
basing his request on the fact that to devote all his time to scientific research he would
like to be provided for. Otherwise he had to be engaged in other medical or tutorial
activities to earn his living. He was ready to head any experimental department in any
Russian university. At the same time he carried on his investigations in Botkin’s clinic
laboratory studying the functions of pancreas and of his own stomach. He also started
to operate on dogs using method of implanting fistulas into stomach and developed
further R. Heidenhain’s method of miniature stomach.
On April, 24, 1890 MMA Conference elected Pavlov as Professor of Pharmacology
Department. Almost at the same time Prince Oldenburg suggested that he would
participate in a new research institute organizing. Pavlov accepted the offer and in 1891
was appointed the Head of the Physiology Department of the Imperial Institute for
Experimental Medicine (IIEM), whose founder and trustee was Prince Oldenburg.
It was only in 1895 that Pavlov, being 46 years old, became the Head of the
Physiological Department of the Military Medical Academy. He occupied this position
from 1895 till 1925. It is accepted commonly now, that the Department has significantly
influenced the development of experimental physiology in Russia. In Academy Pavlov
experienced to full extent the happiness of scientific creativity, his pedagogical mastery
developed to extreme. His talent was sincerely admired by students and was acclaimed
by scientists all over the world. Students, doctors undergoing specification courses,
adjuncts were Pavlov’s vast resource of staff and of freelance assistants. They all
performed their studies in IIEM, where all conditions necessary for scientific work were
Pavlov started organizing the Department of Physiology (IIEM) in January, 1891.
In December of the Department’s first year report contained the results of the research
which revealed a significant role of the liver in transformation into neutral compounds of
those poisonous chemicals which were originated in the body during the process of food
In October of 1893 the concern “Nobel Brothers” sponsored the IIEM with 10.000
roubles and in 1894 a two-floor stone extension to the main building was constructed.
On its ground floor there were rooms for chronic experiments, on the first floor there
was a superb surgery and a clinic for keep of operated dogs. It was for the first time that
physiologists had under their command a surgery as good as the ones in the best
clinics of that time. It was a great outcome of Pavlov’s efforts. In the IIEM where
conditions for scientific work were better in comparison to MMA Pavlov, his apprentices
and colleagues organized a broad front of work in the field of physiology of digestion
which laid the foundation for his scientific school and resulted in a theory of digestion
mechanisms. He also explained the role of vagus and sympathetic nerves in production
of gastric and pancreas secretion.
The results of the study of physiology of digestion were presented in the cycle of 7
lectures delivered by Pavlov to scientific and medical community. Those lectures were
an important step in systematisation of vast information on nervous regulation of the
digestive glands activities, on the laws ruling the production of digestive juices, on
interaction of the stomach secretion with liver, pancreas, small intestines functioning, as
well as with the functioning of other parts of digestive tract.
Pavlov demonstrated that wide use of experimental surgery in chronic experiments
on animals gave an opportunity to investigate interactions of the digestive glands
activities and mechanisms of their functioning. It was a new line of studies in digestion:
exploration of physiological mechanisms of digestive glands activities under conditions
of chronic experiment on a healthy animal with integral and continuously working
digestion system. All his achievements in this field Pavlov summarized in his book
“Lectures on the Work of the Chief Digestive Glands” (1897). In this book he added the
eighth lecture to delivered previously seven ones “Physiological data, human instinct
and medical empiricism”. A year later the book was published in German being
translated by his pupil A. Valter.
By 1904 when Pavlov was awarded with the Nobel Prize he had been engaged in
scientific and pedagogical activities for 25 years. His studies made a large impact on the
scientific community never had physiology helped clinic medicine so significantly. In
his lectures Pavlov regarded the process of digestion as a physiological conveyer which
combined separate organs of digestive tract into a system. Such approach helped to
create complete picture of digestion.
Attention of the Nobel Committee played a significant role in the increase of his
prestige in scientific world. Before publication in press of the announcement about
Pavlov as an expected Nobel Prize winner had been a member of 6 scientific societies
(including 2 foreign ones), and in 1904 he was on the lists of 32 societies. This process,
of course, was facilitated by appearance of the first Nobel Prize winner from Russia. It
was in 1904 that Pavlov’s 25th anniversary of scientific activities was celebrated. His
teacher Prof. I. Tsion wrote in his letter of congratulation: “I especially appreciate in your
scientific work that being the Head of the well-equipped laboratory in IIEM …. you
stayed faithful to your conviction that only experimental physiology can serve as a
foundation of scientific medicine.”
By that time Pavlov and his numerous pupils had obtained new facts which
initiated further development of the main ideas of the “Lectures”, clarifying them, or even
led to reconsignment of some in the light of new data.
Talking about Pavlov’s contribution to the development of methods used for
digestive glands investigation it is necessary to emphasise that introduced innovations
not only developed existing fistula methods but also created a possibility of integral
exploration of physiological processes. Using a health animal, with normal interactions
with environment it became possible to study either functioning of salivary or gastric
glands, or work of pancreas (according to the experimental task set), or their interaction
in the framework of the normal digestive process.
An important chapter in Pavlov’s school studies was devoted to the investigation of
chemical agents which cause gastric glands secretion when acting from stomach cavity
(stomach phase of secretion). By the time when “Lectures” were wrote Pavlov and his
colleagues had been the first to demonstrate irritating effect of meat extracts and of
peptone peptide (product of digestion) on gastric secretion.
While studying the effects of food components on the gastric glands functioning
scientists of Pavlov’s Department revealed that fat influences it as an inhibitor. “We face
a new and to a high degree acute fact: fat inhibits, slows normal energy of the secretion”
– Pavlov wrote.
Fundamental facts obtained in Pavlov’s laboratories are of everlasting
significance. It is even more important that discoveries made by Pavlov and his school
in the field of digestion, which contributed to the glory of Russian science, gave a
powerful impetus for detail exploration of the digestive tract secretion regulation both in
Russia and abroad. They outlined the main directions of investigation for many
oncoming years. Following them new studies showed the role of nervous system in
digestive functions regulation, on the one hand, and revealed the significance of
humoral mechanisms, on the other hand.
Pavlov’s works in the field of physiology of digestion gained the highest
international recognition. They compose a complete cycle of systemic studies. At the
same time they were a starting point for a new vast series of investigations, which laid a
ground for creation of a new, never existed field of physiology: HNA (HNA), or theory of
conditioned reflexes.
The scientific report of the Department of Physiology (IIEM) for 1903 reads:
“Besides investigation of digestive channel secretion and of different types of digestive
enzymes action, some work was directed to exploration of the experimental psychology
on animals.” That was the initial name for the scientific field which later became widely
known as the physiology of HNA.
Thus Pavlov expressed his desire “to assume the power over physiological
phenomena”, to spread the power over all aspects of a human body activities over
vegetative, somatic and psychic spheres. Without knowledge of psyche human
physiology was an incomplete picture.
Pavlov was unsatisfied with existing interpretation of experimental data; his mind
was working hard to find another answer. He complained in 1900: “The problem is that
we are still captured by the illusion according to which spirit and body are separate
things; in the framework of the natural science such a division is impossible.” Referring
to some of his experiments Pavlov concluded: “The facts presented can be conveniently
encompassed in the frame of physiological thinking. Our ancient physiological reflex is
stable, unconditioned, while a new reflex fluctuates and, as a consequence, is
conditioned. In unconditioned reflex we have as an irritating agent those qualities of the
object, with which saliva deals in physiological relations… in conditioned reflex it is vice
versa: the qualities of the object which normally have no connection with physiological
role of saliva, colour, for example, serve as irritating agents. These latter qualities are
like signals for former ones. This is finer adjustment of salivary glands to the
These words express the idea which was often buried under a stream of new facts
on the high nervous activity: biological role of the conditioned reflex is to anticipate
events, to prepare in advance for reacting to stochastic changes in the environment.
From the point of view of a modern cybernetics anticipating (outpost) regulation is the
most reliable. Its biological form is temporary connection, conditioned reflex, in
particular. Consequently regulatory processes based on conditioned reflex may be
regarded as high nervous activity from cybernetic point of view.
“Psychic secretion” of digestive glands was the subject of Pavlov’s most close
attention. Being a true experimenter he could not stand any unexplored spots on the
“map”, feeling a strong desire to fill them in. So, he decided to uncover the psychic side
of digestive glands activity. The decision was followed by 35 years of a purposeful work
devoted to special reflexes of the brain which Pavlov called “conditioned reflexes”.
History has shown that conditioned reflexes brought to Pavlov more success, fame and
glory than his works on physiology of digestion, though it was for the latter that he
received the Nobel Prize.
Endeavour to learn about organisation of the brain and about its functions is the
most serious challenge to human intellect, as the brain itself is the highest and the most
complex of all natural constructions. Though human knowledge about the brain
functioning became broader and broader, especially in the 19th century, high divisions of
cerebrum cortex and their functions, first of all psychic functions, stayed out of reach of
natural science.
The first work on conditioned reflexes was carried out by I. Tolotchinov, a member
of the IIEM Department of Physiology, on Pavlov’s suggestion. Under the title “Data on
physiology and psychology of salivary glands” it was reported in 1902 at the Congress
of doctors and scientists from North Europe which took place in Helsingfors. I.F.
Tolotchinov described some of the external conditions of establishing temporary
connections in the cortex and discovered the fact of natural reflex formation, the fact of
its extinction and restoration, revealed existence of external inhibition of newly formed
reflex. His experiments registered specific and observable components of the
conditioned reflex, such as movement and salivation.
When he put the question about the mechanism of conditioned reflex (or
temporary connection) formation Pavlov in fact put the main question of the brain
physiology. As the result a new chapter of the central neural system physiology was
created physiology of the HNA. By 1903 Pavlov and his colleagues had collected
enough new facts to deliver a report at XIV International Medical Congress in Madrid.
The title of the report read: “Experimental psychology and psychopathology on animals”.
In his report Pavlov justified the use of the term “reflex” in investigation of so called
“psychic” activity in dogs. He also gave definitions of such notions as “unconditioned”
and “conditioned” reflexes. In fact the report comprised the programme of a new
scientific area development, devoted to the exploration of normal activities of cerebral
hemispheres. It also outlined the perspective of “experimental psychopathology”, that is
experimental pathology of HNA. Biological significance of conditioned reflexes in the
struggle for existence and their biological expediency, regarding them as an act of
adaptation to environment, were especially emphasised in the report.
Theory of conditioned reflexes defined the area of interest for Pavlov, his pupils
and colleagues for oncoming decades. By 1906 almost all types of cortical inhibition had
been discovered: internal, external, conditioned, sequential, retarding and
differentiating. Basics of the conditioned reflex generalisation were laid, and conditioned
trace reflexes were discovered. Under Pavlov’s guidance investigations were carried out
using extirpation of different areas of cerebral cortex (in dogs) to reveal the link between
conditioned salivary reflexes and cerebral cortex.
On May, 7, 1907 Military Medical Academy elected Pavlov as an Academic, on
October, 24, 1907 Pavlov became an Academic of the Imperial Petersburg Academy of
Science, of its Department of Physics and Mathematics, with specialisation
“comparative anatomy and physiology”. He also becomes the Head of the Laboratory of
Physiology in the Academy of Science.
The progress of investigations in the field of the HNA demanded a new level of
technical equipment for experiments. Pavlov understood the significance of this problem
and streamed a lot of energy into developing technical base of his Department in IIEM.
As a result the “Tower of Silence”, tree storey laboratory building with soundproof
chambers, was built on the territory of the IIEM.
In 10 years after the first report on conditioned reflexes Pavlov delivered a report
“Investigation of HNA” at the final meeting of the IX International Physiological Congress
in Groningen (Holland). Such outstanding physiologists as Ch. Sherrington, E. Starling,
G. Gemmeter, E. Fisher participated in the work of the Congress. In his report Pavlov
substantiated his idea that analysers were special apparatus of the nervous system,
and he also presented the perspective of investigation in this direction, based on the
idea of unity of the centre and periphery. He also mentioned the possibility of
conditioned reflexes being hereditary the idea, which later transformed into the
problem of high cerebral functions inheritance.
During World War I, during two revolutions that followed it and during the Civil War
scientific work went on in the Institute. Period of 1918 – 1920 was especially difficult: the
country was in ruins, as the result of starvation and cold it was impossible to experiment
on dogs. In those years Pavlov paid more attention to studies in psychiatric hospital,
which he started in the middle of 1890th with the aim to explore physiological
mechanisms of human cerebral cortex activity.
In 1923 Pavlov set the task to “investigate psychotic syndromes and mental
diseases”. That is why he could not be content with fractional observations in the
hospital and felt a necessity to observe and explore patients systematically. To reach
that purpose, in 1931 Pavlov initiated the organisation of two clinics with specialisations
in neurology and psychiatry - they served as bases for the Department of Physiology.
Each clinic could treat 25 patients. According to Pavlov’s plans investigators focused
their attention on neuroses – neurasthenia, hysteria, psychasthenia, as well as on
narcolepsy, schizophrenia, maniacal-depressive psychosis. Types of human high
nervous activity in connection with different nervous diseases were investigated. Data
obtained in clinics were used to analyse pathophysiological mechanisms of the
abovementioned diseases, to develop experimental therapy for neuroses and
psychoses. From November 1931 till February 1935 Pavlov carried out scientific
sessions in the clinics “clinical Wednesdays”. Materials reported at those meetings
were published in 1954 – 1957. “Wednesdays” were known for their atmosphere of free
discussion. At the meetings participants analysed clinical observations and medical
histories from the physiological point of view. However, Pavlov called for care in
introduction into practical medicine of the results gained in experiments on animals.
In 1919 1920 the situation in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) was very difficult. In
March of 1919 the Council of State Institute for Experimental Medicine (former IIEM)
was informed that Pavlov was seriously ill as the result of “lack of firewood and heating”.
But it was not only cold, starvation and household difficulties. The time was shadowed
with frisks and arrests which took place all over the city and did not miss many of
Pavlov’s colleagues from the Institute. It was not the best atmosphere for scientific work,
and Pavlov applied to Narcompross (the organisation with the functions that are usually
fulfilled by the Ministry of Education) and to Sovnarcom (the Government) of the
Russian Federation for permission to go to Sweden with his family by the invitation of
the Swiss Red Cross. It coincided with the governmental decision to provide Russian
leading scientists with conditions more comfortable for their work. Pavlov was included
in that elite group. But he refused an assigned rich food ration and asked for conditions
in his laboratories to be made enough comfortable for scientific work. Apparently he was
satisfied with the fact that the Government recognized the importance of his studies as
they ensured material and technical basis for his work, so he never again applied for
permission to leave the country.
In 1921 – 1923 scientific work in the Department of Physiology gradually came to
normal, investigations were renewed. In his report “Normal activity and general
constitution of cerebral cortex” delivered in 1922 at the meeting of the Society of Finnish
Doctors in Helsingfors Pavlov distinguished 6 types of events which “embraced the
whole HNA without residue”. He included in those 6 types the excitation, inhibition,
movement (irradiation and concentration), mutual induction, connecting and
disconnecting, and, finally, analysis. It was a report which summarized the most
important results of his two-decade work. In 1923 Pavlov’s book “Twenty Years
Experience in Objective Study of Higher Nervous Activity (Behaviour) of Animals” was
published. It comprised his articles, reports, lectures and speeches presented in
chronological order, so that it reflected the course of development of the theory of
conditioned reflexes. Emphasising special significance of the sixth edition (the last one
published during his lifetime) of the “Twenty Years Experience” Pavlov wrote in January
of 1936 that the book was enriched “abundantly” 12 new works were added to it.
According to Pavlov those works clearly demonstrated “how immensely the horizon of
research has extended… Physiology, pathology with therapy of cortex of the brain and
psychology with its practical applications start to join, to merge, so that they become the
same field of scientific work, and, judging by the results, to their mutual benefit.”
In 1925 – 1927 much attention was paid to investigation of nervous system types,
to studying different kinds of internal inhibition and their mutual induction. In 1927
Pavlov’s book “Lectures on the Work of Large Hemispheres of the Brain” was
published. In the same year he suggested that nervous system types would be studied
on dogs, and while researching other problems the type should be taken into
Most generally the results of researches in Pavlov's laboratories were concerned
with systematic investigations of experimental neuroses, development of the conception
of nervous system types, a problem of coordination in brain hemispheres functioning,
genetics of the HNA, study of the nervous mechanism of normal and hypnotic sleep.
The extensive experimental material became a basis of the new point of view on
reflexes. All reactions of an organism were referred to the latter group without
exception, if they were caused by excitation of the nervous terminals and carried out
with the participation of nervous system. The conception of the conditioned reflexes,
giving the possibility to explain the mechanism of connections of an organism with an
environment formation, became a starting point of organism functions study in their
dependence on activity of cerebral cortex under various life conditions. The problem of
neuroses dramatically facing the clinics became a subject of investigation and,
undoubtedly, has influenced the direction of HNA fundamental studies, and also the
development of evolutionary-genetic researches.
Studies of anthropoids’ behavior were highly important for the development of the
investigations of HNA physiology. In particular, significant development of orienting-
research activity in apes was established, for example, the ability of chimpanzee to form
the long sequences of motional conditioned reflexes for realization of problem tasks was
revealed, etc. In connection with results of these researches Pavlov offered the
conception on classification of temporal connections to conditioned, sensor and signal.
The latter was contemplated to be anthropoid’s ability to establish the causal-
consequential relations between subjects and the phenomena. He also expressed the
opinion on impossibility of highly developed animal's behavior treatment only on the
basis of the conditioned reflex mechanism.
Expansion of a research sphere in physiology of animal HNA has led Pavlov to
create in 1924 of Biological station near village Koltushi under the aegis of Department
of Physiology, being the subdivision of IIEM up to 1939.
It is necessary to note, that in 1925, being retired from MMA, Pavlov has headed
the Institute of Physiology of USSR Academy of Science organized under his initiative
on the basis of Physiological Laboratory of the USSR Academy of Science, over which
he had supervised being the academician from 1907. The staff of this laboratory
included only of 2 employees. Organization of Institute of Physiology on 5.12.1925, for
the furnishing and staff expansion of which the USSR Academy of Science has marked
significant funding, has allowed Pavlov to essentially expand a spectrum of scientific
work. All researches which were carried out in the Department of physiology IIEM and in
Institute of Physiology of the USSR Academy of Science were conceptually indivisibly
interconnected and developed in a framework of creative plans of their head.
Pavlov by virtue of his scientific biography characterized by exclusive bias for a
determinism and a nervism, and also due to interest to a nature of human mentality,
appeared in him in his youth, under I.M. Sechenov's influence, speculated within the
framework of the scientific ideology essentially differed from behaviorism. He, naturally,
has wended his way to search for brain mechanisms providing adaptation of an
organism to an environment. In a Pavlov's terminology these are the mechanisms of
forming of a conditioned reflex or of temporal connection. This approach to investigation
of brain functioning has allowed him to solve the problem of how the brain works,
organizing and controlling the interaction of an organism with world around, what
nervous mechanisms provide this activity of it, which shortly can be designated as
The question on the mechanism of training has stated before Pavlov from the very
beginning of his work with conditioned reflexes. The first attempt of physiological
interpretation of nervous mechanisms of conditioned reflex formation was made by him
in already mentioned Madrid speech in 1903. He has presented these mechanisms as
"attraction" of excitation from accidental receptors activation (subsequently named
"indifferent excitation, a signal") to the salivary gland center.
What is the importance of this experimental - theoretical conception? Solving the
problem of mechanisms of conditioned reflex links formation to the extent,
corresponding to the theoretical and experimental opportunities of his time, Pavlov and
his school transferred brain mechanisms of training in the spatial (material) form, what
was never made by the psychologists, who had the non-spatial mentality, a nature of
consciousness and reason in the form of accumulation of subjective experience
resulting from training (thinking) as the subject. In other words, Pavlov with his
physiological approach to studying of mental activity has returned a science
investigating the brain functioning, on firm ground of materialism.
As a result a new chapter of central nervous system physiology of the - physiology
of the HNA was created, which subject was presented by Pavlov in his speech on
general meeting of the Society of the Moscow scientific institute on 24.03.1913. In this
speech he again has addressed to the term "mechanism", speaking about the
mechanism of temporal connections - a conditioned reflex, about mechanisms of
analyzers (sense organs), about the nervous mechanism of a subjective phenomenon
of affect, about the internal mechanism of nervous activity of a dog etc.
The main feature of the functional organization of the developed nervous system is
the dynamism of connections of cells forming it, without what it might not carry out its
peculiar functions: to connect all systems of the organism providing perception of the
external and internal environment, and also its own condition, the consulting of the
former experience of interaction with environment, an estimation of the current needs
and formation of proper responses and behavior in certain conditions, in integral
continuous activity. All this demands especially flexible, plastic and at the same time
steady functional (working) connections between nervous cells. Elucidation of these
connections mechanisms is the main problem, and it is possible to tell, the subject of
modern neuroscience.
Great scientific and scientific - organizational work of Pavlov in IIEM cannot be
separated from his extensive activity covering problems of development of a domestic
science, perfection of preparation and education of highly skilled physicians, and
various aspects of public life of Russia also.
His attitude to February revolution in Russia Pavlov has publicly promulgated
earlier, speaking on 28.03.1917 in Petrograd Medical Institute for Women at the
organizational assembly of a society "Open association for development and diffusion of
positive sciences". "Russia is experiencing now the quivering period of liberating, the
period of free hands: make from yourself anything you want and anything you can, - has
declared Pavlov in his speech, - but now, all of us urgently need to be infiltrated by
dispassionate consciousness, that after has descended on - and so easily - completely
rotted building of the old state system, all of us bear overwhelming by its grandness,
even frightening task - to found correct basis of a new building of fair, happy and strong
Several years after Pavlov have tried to apply the theory of conditioned reflexes to
an explanation of e public life events. In 1924 he has come out with public lecture
"Several applications of new brain physiology to life". Referring to observations of a dog
in which only long hunger period has suppressed a so-called reflex of freedom, Pavlov
has declared, that dictatorship of proletariat is accompanied by terror and it may result
in tragic consequences: "Terror, moreover accompanied by famine, completely
suppresses a reflex of freedom, the nation will be bullied, decried as slaves".
However a culmination of Pavlov's civic courage became his letter to the USSR
Sovnarcom (Government), written three weeks after Sergey Kirov's murder, on
21.12.1934. Explaining the reasons which have induced him to remain in Russia and his
attitude to "world revolution" in it, Pavlov wrote :"We lived and we live under an
indefatigable regime of terror and violence. If our common being would be reproduced
entirely without exception, with all daily details, there would be the horrifying picture, the
tremendous impression from which for normal people hardly probable would be
considerably attenuated, if we would put near to it other our picture with wonderfully
growing cities, Dneprostroys, giant factories, countless scientific and educational
institutions. When the first picture fills my attention, most of all I see similarities of our
life to life of ancient Asian despotism. And we refer to it as republics. How it can be
understood? Maybe, it is provisionally. But it is necessary to remember, that to the
person who was developed from an animal, it is easy to fall, but it is difficult to rise. It is
hardly possible to remain the beings feeling and thinking humanly for both, those who
spitefully sentence to death masses of people and with satisfaction put it into effect, as
well as for those, who are violently habituated to participate in it. On the other hand, it is
hardly possible to become beings with feeling of human self-respect for those who are
transformed into bullied animals. When I see new cases from a negative zone of our life
(it is a legion of them), I am tormented with a poisonous reproach that I stayed and stay
among it. Not only I think and feel so? Spare the native land and us".
During the XV International physiological congress which was taking place in
Leningrad and in Moscow in 1935, on which Pavlov was proclaimed as "father of
physiologists of the world" and the Biological station in Koltushi has got the world
popularity as the "capital of conditioned reflexes".
Pavlov died on 27.02.1936. Last time he visited the Department of physiology of
IEM on February 18, which is certified by the sheet of a desk calendar on his desk in the
study which is the memorial now. By the decision of the Government his name was
given to the Department of Physiology of IEM headed by him, to 1-st Leningrad Medical
Institute (nowadays the St.-Petersburg State Medical University named after. I.P.
Pavlov), to Physiological Institute of the USSR Sci Academy (nowadays Institute of
Physiology named after I.P. Pavlov of the Russian Sci Academy), and also to many
other research and educational medical institutions.
Further Reading
Pavlov I.P. 1897. Lektsii o rabote glavnyh pischevaritel'nyh zhelez. SPb. (Work of the
Digestive Glands, London, 1910, 21 p.).
Pavlov I.P. 1923. Dvadtsatiletnij opyt ob'ektivnogo izucheniya vysshei nervnoi
deyatel'nosti (povedeniya) zhivotnyh. (Twenty Years of Experience in the Objective
Study of the Highest Nervous Activity (Behavour) of Animals). Petrograd. 508 p.
Pavlov I.P. 1927.Lektsii o rabote bol'shih polusharij golovnogo mozga. (Lectures on the
Work of Large Hemispheres of the Brain). Leningrad.
Pavlov I.P. 1951-1952. Polnoe sobranie trudov.(Full collection of Works). Moskow-
Leningrad. V. 1-6.
Boldyreff W.N. 1929. I.P. Pavlov as a Scientist. In Honor of the 80 Birthday of Prof. I.P.
Pavlov. Bull. of the Battle Creek Sanit. & Hospital Clinic, October, vol. 24, pp.212-229.
Letopis' zhizni i deyatel'nosti akademika I.P. Pavlova 1849-1917. (Chronicle of the life
and activity of Academician I.P. Pavlov 1849-1917). 1969. Composed by N. Gureeva,
N. Chebysheva,. Commentary of V. Merkulov. Leningrad, T.1. 222 p.
I.P. Pavlov: Pro et contra. Composed by Yu. P. Golikov, K.A. Lange. Saint Petersburg,
1999. 800 p.
Illustrations (anyone for the choice of Editor)
Fig.1. I.P. Pavlov as Doctor of Cambridge University, 1912.
Fig.2 I.P. Pavlov. Photo by Tatiana Boldyreff., September, 4, 1929 at the Ninth
International Psychological Congress. Yale University, New Haven, Conn.
Reprinted from: The Special Issue of the Bulletin of the Battle Creek Sanitarium and
Hospital Clinic, October, 1929, Vol. 24, pp.212-229, in Honor of the Eightieth Birthday of
Professor Ivan P. Pavlov.
Fig.3. Professor I.P. Pavlov in uniform (1911) of the Military Medical Academy in
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
I.P. Pavlov as a scientist. In honor of the 80 birthday of Prof. I.P. Pavlov
  • Boldyreff WN
Lektsii o rabote glavnyh pischevaritel'nyh zhelez
  • Pavlov IP