Pavlov’s dog and the discovery of classical conditioning
Ivan Pavlov was a Russian scientist, who received the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine at the beginning of the 20th century.
Pavlov, among his experiments, carried out one with dogs as protagonists. A key experiment in classical conditioning learning theory .
The experiment consisted of associating the physiological response of salivation, a consequence of the presentation of a specific stimulus (food), to the appearance of a neutral stimulus (the sound of a bell).
To do this, he exposed several dogs to a dish of food, which produced the involuntary physiological response of salivating.
In later rounds, he would ring a bell just before showing the food. In this way, the sound of the bell became an antecedent of what was going to happen (the arrival of food).
After a number of repetitions, the sound of the bell, which by itself did not produce salivation in the dog, became a conditioned stimulus that did produce automatic salivation in the dogs. It was not necessary, then, for the dogs to see the food to activate the salivation mechanisms, but only the sound of the bell activated it. This involuntary associative learning process is known as classical or respondent conditioning.
Laika the dog and her space mission
Laika was the first living being, sent into space, in 1957, aboard Sputnik 2.
Laika went from being a street dog to becoming an astronaut dog after two months of training.
The ethical and moral values with which Laika was trained and condemned to certain death, today would be the reason for a few demonstrations for animal welfare. Even some scientists who participated in the experiment, years after the launch, have shown their sadness and disagreement with the methods used.
If you want to know more details about the history of Laika, you can visit this very interesting article.
Beagle dogs and biotechnological research
Recently, several laboratories that use beagle dogs for biotechnological and pharmaceutical research have jumped into the news. These laboratories carry out toxicology tests on animals, which seriously threatens their well-being.
Beagle breed dogs have been released in recent years from certain laboratories around the world. Non-governmental organizations are looking for a home for them, where they can grow up with the love and respect they deserve.
Dogs that detect diseases and emotions
The smell of dogs is between ten thousand and one hundred thousand times superior to ours.
Dogs are capable of detecting objects or people that are not in sight or have even disappeared from the scene.
Through their powerful nostrils, they can detect the molecules that we secrete when we are nervous, being able to smell our emotional state.
It is also well known that dogs can be trained to detect any type of substance, including molecules related to our state of health. There are detection dogs whose work is of utmost importance in the diagnosis of certain diseases.
Tasha the dog, and the DNA revolution
It has been more than 20 years since the complete genome of Tasha, a boxer dog, was sequenced. This was the first complete genome of the species Canis lupus familiaris .
Recently, research is being carried out trying to isolate the genes responsible for certain behavioral tendencies. For example, the genes responsible for fear or anxiety.
Cognitive and social skills in dogs
In recent decades, the knowledge we had about the cognitive and social skills of dogs has grown tremendously. Hundreds of posts have appeared about it.
A great scientific step was the possibility of obtaining images, in real time, of the brain of dogs.
Thanks to extensive training to remain motionless in an MRI machine, we have been able to see how the dog’s brain becomes excited and processes certain information in a very similar way to the human. We have even seen how they interpret our gestures and even differentiate our language.