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Pavlov Cockroach Experiment Essay Example

Saliva secretion is significant for digesting and swallowing the food that further leads to improving the stomach system through proper digestion. Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, a Russian scientist and chiefly famous for his work in classical conditioning, investigated the effects of conditioning trials on the level of salivation in an experiment. In his experiment, he took insects such as cockroaches and was amazed to find out that cockroaches had outstanding learning capabilities. The experiment was about the levels and secretion of saliva that is managed by the autonomic nervous system of the animal bodies through classical conditioning. In cockroaches, the secretion of saliva is balanced by the automation of serotonergic and dopaminergic neurons. Which, in return, controls the secretion of protein-rich and protein-free saliva, respectively. The experiment was about the exposure of cockroaches to different odors, their response was weak, but once paired with the solution of sucrose, the neurons exhibited a very prominent reaction. The findings of this study indicated that classical conditioning of saliva is present everywhere among several classes of animals.

Ivan Petrovich Pavlov selected adult and male cockroaches for this experiment. I expected to learn behaviors and responses of cockroaches towards the experiment. Initially, they were fed with the extract of sugar-free yeast diet and water. The wings of the cockroach were removed, and they were made immobilized on the low-melting wax Petri dish. The experiment conducted in a way that restrained cockroaches could move their mouth parts freely.  For conducting a hypothesis, after every one minute, the saliva secretion was taken and measure. For sensory stimulation, the antenna was exposed to the smell of the peppermint, vanilla, and apple essence. Afterward, the odor was paired with the taste by adding a drop of a solution of sucrose, or normal saline was dropped in the mouth. The odor and taste gap were of 5 minutes. First, the sensory stimulation was applied to the cockroaches with peppermint essence, vanilla, and apple essence (Watanabe & Mizunami, 2007). Then the odor was paired with the sucrose solution with the gap of 3 seconds. This experiment was performed under controlled conditions. The only gustatory trial was conducted by the difference of 10 minutes between each drop of sucrose dropped on the mouth of an insect. For understanding the effects of conditioning on the insect and to identify the hypothesis of the experiment, the saliva secretion was measured and was taken at 30 minutes interval. The secretion od Saliva was calculated on different cockroaches at a random selection, and this experiment conducted for a whole day. This data collected was computed for statistical evaluation.

The measurement of learning was a significant increase in the production of saliva when exposed to apple essence, sucrose solution, and standard saline solution, but not much to peppermint and vanilla odor. Hence the new cockroaches were introduced to peppermint/vanilla odor paired with sucrose solution. The secretion of saliva increased when computed at intervals of 30 minutes. When this experiment carried out on the same cockroaches, who were kept at a controlled and warm environment after a one-day gap, the corresponding increase in the saliva secretion has observed. Hence proving the results of the experiment that memory lasted for at least on-day (Watanabe & Mizunami, 2007). The conditioning was done alone and in pairing, making the cockroaches trained on the stimuli, which caused the learning of the insect to the incentives introduced to it. The untrained and the trained cockroaches give away the results of the experiment. The change in secretion of saliva was evident in their conditioned learning. The cockroaches’ response helps in understanding the phenomenon of sophisticated neural control of autonomic function is not link to vertebrates (Watanabe & Mizunami, 2007). It applies to insects and other species, as well as the first study in dogs, showed the neurological stimuli, which still was unclear as the mammal’s brain is a very complex and autoimmune system affecting the heart rate of other vertebrae. The object of the experiment was to know the parts of the brain and the subesophageal ganglion associated with the conditioning of salivation. The activity of the extensor muscles of the proboscis made to the recording of the conditioning stimuli.

The experiment was a success and concluded the expected results. As the previous experiments made the finding more complicated, but the result of this one, the use of insects, cockroaches made it more understanding. The most common complications and frustrations that occurred while experimenting were the response of untrained cockroaches on the odor of peppermint and vanilla, and the saliva secretion exhibited was near to none. Then the differential conditioning trial where the odor was paired to the solution of sucrose and then again to odor alone the cockroaches linked to the production of saliva to sucrose solution pairing but not to odor alone. The effect of conditioning was kept going for one day, and then the backward pairing, conditional stimulus, and unconditional stimulus alone did not induce the conditioning. The experiment proved that the conditioning of saliva in other species of animals rather than being stricken to dogs or mammals only (Watanabe & Mizunami, 2007)

To sum up, it has been a big revolutionary experiment that overall changed the mindset of the psychological thinking view. Conditioned learning was a breakthrough. It has been concluded that all animals, no matter how complex or straightforward they are, can be packaged to knowledge when they were exposed to the specific conditioning environment. They can be conditioned to learning any behavior and can measure the ability to respond to different stimuli. The study of this experiment was not just backed by hypothesis, but the elaborated calculations and evaluations of the results concluded honesty of the experiment.


Watanabe, H., & Mizunami, M. (2007). Pavlov’s cockroach: classical conditioning of salivation in an insect. PLoS One2(6).

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