Lektsii o rabotie glavnikh pishtshevaritelnikh zhelyos.

St. Petersburg: I. N. Kushnereff & Ko. 1897.

First edition of this seminal work on biology and neurology, containing the first expression of what Pavlov would later term the ‘conditioned reflex’. “Mouth-watering is a familiar experience and may be induced without the sight or smell of food. The sounds of a table being laid for lunch in another room may induce salivation in man, and the rattle of a dish in which its food is usually served will cause similar reaction in a dog. By detailed analysis of such facts as these Pavlov (1849-1936) made great contributions to our knowledge of the physiology of digestion in a series of lectures delivered in St Petersburg and published in the following year [i.e., the offered work]. In the course of these lectures he described the artificial stomach for dogs used by him to produce for the first time gastric juices uncontaminated by food. Further experiments led him to the conclusion that salivation and the flow of gastric juice ensuing upon the sight or smell of food was due to a reflex process. This simple form of reaction he called first a ‘psychic’, later an ‘unconditioned’, reflex. Reflex action was familiar to physiologists, but it had never been invoked to explain such a complicated process. Pavlov now set himself to discover the far more complicated process involved in the evocation of gastric responses to stimuli other than food, for example the rattle of a familiar platter. This was in the nature of an acquired stimulus and as reflex action was induced by a particular condition or set of conditions he called it a ‘conditioned’ reflex. From a series of experiments increasingly detailed, and a tabulation of results increasingly exact, he found that virtually any natural phenomenon may be developed into a conditioned stimulus to produce the selected response — ‘The Activity of the Digestive Glands’. All that was necessary was to submit the animal to the selected stimulus at feeding time and the stimulus would eventually cause salivation in the absence of food. The elaboration of these experiments and their extension to children demonstrated how great a proportion of human behaviour is explicable as a series of conditioned reflexes. Indeed some psychologists seem nowadays to believe that behaviour is all. Pavlov’s results are, indeed, clearly complementary to those of Freud and many regard them as of more fundamental significance. Like Freud’s, this was the work of one man and a completely new departure” (PMM). The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1904 was awarded to Ivan Petrovich Pavlov “in recognition of his work on the physiology of digestion, through which knowledge on vital aspects of the subject has been transformed and enlarged.”

Ivan Petrovich Pavlov was born on September 14, 1849 at Ryazan, where his father, Peter Dmitrievich Pavlov, was a village priest. He was educated first at the church school in Ryazan and then at the theological seminary there. Inspired by the progressive ideas which D. I. Pisarev, the most eminent of the Russian literary critics of the 1860’s and I. M. Sechenov, the father of Russian physiology, were spreading, Pavlov abandoned his religious career and decided to devote his life to science. In 1870 he enrolled in the physics and mathematics faculty to take the course in natural science.

“Pavlov became passionately absorbed with physiology, which in fact was to remain of such fundamental importance to him throughout his life. It was during this first course that he produced, in collaboration with another student, Afanasyev, his first learned treatise, a work on the physiology of the pancreatic nerves. This work was widely acclaimed and he was awarded a gold medal for it.

“In 1875 Pavlov completed his course with an outstanding record and received the degree of Candidate of Natural Sciences. However, impelled by his overwhelming interest in physiology, he decided to continue his studies and proceeded to the Academy of Medical Surgery to take the third course there. He completed this in 1879 and was again awarded a gold medal. After a competitive examination, Pavlov won a fellowship at the Academy, and this together with his position as Director of the Physiological Laboratory at the clinic of the famous Russian clinician, S. P. Botkin, enabled him to continue his research work. In 1883 he presented his doctor’s thesis on the subject of «The centrifugal nerves of the heart». In this work he developed his idea of nervism, using as example the intensifying nerve of the heart which he had discovered, and furthermore laid down the basic principles on the trophic function of the nervous system. In this as well as in other works, resulting mainly from his research in the laboratory at the Botkin clinic, Pavlov showed that there existed a basic pattern in the reflex regulation of the activity of the circulatory organs.

“In 1890 Pavlov was invited to organize and direct the Department of Physiology at the Institute of Experimental Medicine. Under his direction, which continued over a period of 45 years to the end of his life, this Institute became one of the most important centres of physiological research. In 1890 Pavlov was appointed Professor of Pharmacology at the Military Medical Academy and five years later he was appointed to the then vacant Chair of Physiology, which he held till 1925.

“It was at the Institute of Experimental Medicine in the years 1891-1900 that Pavlov did the bulk of his research on the physiology of digestion. It was here that he developed the surgical method of the «chronic» experiment with extensive use of fistulas, which enabled the functions of various organs to be observed continuously under relatively normal conditions. This discovery opened a new era in the development of physiology, for until then the principal method used had been that of «acute» vivisection, and the function of an organism had only been arrived at by a process of analysis. This meant that research into the functioning of any organ necessitated disruption of the normal interrelation between the organ and its environment. Such a method was inadequate as a means of determining how the functions of an organ were regulated or of discovering the laws governing the organism as a whole under normal conditions – problems which had hampered the development of all medical science. With his method of research, Pavlov opened the way for new advances in theoretical and practical medicine. With extreme clarity he showed that the nervous system played the dominant part in regulating the digestive process, and this discovery is in fact the basis of modern physiology of digestion. Pavlov made known the results of his research in this field, which is of great importance in practical medicine, in lectures which he delivered in 1895 and published under the title Lektsii o rabote glavnykh pishchevaritelnyteh zhelez (Lectures on the function of the principal digestive glands) (1897).

“Pavlov’s research into the physiology of digestion led him logically to create a science of conditioned reflexes. In his study of the reflex regulation of the activity of the digestive glands, Pavlov paid special attention to the phenomenon of «psychic secretion», which is caused by food stimuli at a distance from the animal. By employing the method – developed by his colleague D. D. Glinskii in 1895 – of establishing fistulas in the ducts of the salivary glands, Pavlov was able to carry out experiments on the nature of these glands. A series of these experiments caused Pavlov to reject the subjective interpretation of «psychic» salivary secretion and, on the basis of Sechenov’s hypothesis that psychic activity was of a reflex nature, to conclude that even here a reflex – though not a permanent but a temporary or conditioned one – was involved. This discovery of the function of conditioned reflexes made it possible to study all psychic activity objectively, instead of resorting to subjective methods as had hitherto been necessary; it was now possible to investigate by experimental means the most complex interrelations between an organism and its external environment …

“Subsequently, in a systematic programme of research, Pavlov transformed Sechenov’s theoretical attempt to discover the reflex mechanisms of psychic activity into an experimentally proven theory of conditioned reflexes” (nobelprize.org).

By observing irregularities of secretions in normal unanesthetized animals, Pavlov was led to formulate the laws of the conditioned reflex, a subject that occupied his attention from about 1898 until 1930. He used the salivary secretion as a quantitative measure of the psychical, or subjective, activity of the animal, in order to emphasize the advantage of objective, physiological measures of mental phenomena and higher nervous activity. He sought analogies between the conditional (commonly though incorrectly translated as “conditioned”) reflex and the spinal reflex.

“According to the physiologistSir Charles Sherrington, the spinal reflex is composed of integrated actions of the nervous system involving such complex components as the excitation and inhibition of many nerves, induction (i.e., the increase or decrease of inhibition brought on by previous excitation), and the irradiation of nerve impulses to many nerve centres. To these components, Pavlov added cortical and subcortical influences, the mosaic action of the brain, the effect of sleep on the spread of inhibition, and the origin of neurotic disturbances principally through a collision, or conflict, between cortical excitation and inhibition.

“Beginning about 1930, Pavlov tried to apply his laws to the explanation of human psychoses. He assumed that the excessive inhibition characteristic of a psychotic person was a protective mechanism—shutting out the external world—in that it excluded injurious stimuli that had previously caused extreme excitation. In Russia this idea became the basis for treating psychiatric patients in quiet and non-stimulating external surroundings. During this period Pavlov announced the important principle of the language function in the human as based on long chains of conditioned reflexes involving words. The function of language involves not only words, he held, but an elaboration of generalizations not possible in animals lower than the human” (Britannica).

Pavlov’s discovery of the conditioned reflex has gained growing significance in politics and sociology. He concluded that even such concepts as freedom, curiosity and religion were conditioned reflexes of the brain. '”Essentially, only one thing in life is of real interest to us — our psychical experience,'” he said in his Nobel address. '”Its mechanism, however, was and still is shrouded in profound obscurity. All human resources — art, religion, literature, philosophy, and the historical sciences — all have joined in the attempt to throw light upon this darkness. But humanity has at its disposal yet another powerful resource — natural science with its strict objective methods.”

PMM 385; Garrison-Morton 1022; Grolier/Horblit 83; Dibner 135; Grolier/Medicine 85; Lilly Library Notable Medical Books 241.



8vo (187 x 131 mm), pp. [vi], ii, 223, [1]. Contemporary Russian half calf over marbled boards, upper capital chipped, some rubbing to hinges, light spotting to first and final leaves. A very good and unrestored copy.

Item #4569

Price: $17,500.00