A reflex is an automatic response to a stimulus. Humans use reflex actions in only some of their behaviour, for example controlling the eye's pupil size.
A reflex response to a new stimulus can be learned.
A Russian scientist called Pavlov trained dogs to expect food whenever he rang a bell. The dogs eventually produced saliva when they heard the bell ring.
- The dog salivates naturally when given food
- Pavlov rings a bell every time the dog eats
- After much repetition the dog salivates when the bell rings, even when there is no food.
This is an example of a conditioned reflex. The dogs were conditioned to salivate when the bell rang.
- The food is called a primary stimulus.
- The ringing bell is called a secondary stimulus.
Another example of conditioning is a goldfish expecting food when seeing a…