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2006 | 66 | 1 | 91-97

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Konorski and conditional reflexes. A historical summary and an addendum


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There have been four major pioneers from Eastern Europe in the neuroscientific study of memory and learning: Pavlov, Bekhterev, Beritashvili and Konorski. The thinking of each evolved with the progress of neuroscientific knowledge throughout the world, and save for Pavlov, each encountered governmental opposition to their views. Among the clues largely overlooked in their examination of conditional reflexes was the fact that the animal appreciates not only its own appetitive state but its immersion in the experimental setting. The latter in itself must require considerable, ongoing neuronal activity to sustain it. There is also the question as to whether ?motivation' is an essential feature for the formation of conditional connections; and in cases where it is seemingly absent, as in recognition memory, the processes that underlie the astonishing efficacy of such memory formation remain almost wholly obscure. Finally, it is remarked that the cerebral cortex, as initially supposed, may indeed be the governing locus, even of such simple effects as habituation.




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Robert W. Doty, Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Rochester School of Medicine, Rochester, New York 14642, USA


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