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Classical conditioning (also known as Pavlovian or respondent conditioning) is a learning process in which an innate response to a potent stimulus comes to be elicited in response to a previously neutral stimulus; this is achieved by repeated pairings of the neutral stimulus with the potent stimulus. The basic facts about classical conditioning were discovered by Ivan Pavlov through experiments with dogs. Together with operant conditioning, classical conditioning became the foundation of behaviorism, a school of psychology which was dominant in the mid-20th century and is still an important influence on the practice of psychological therapy and the study of animal behaviour (ethology). Classical conditioning is now the best understood of the basic learning processes, and its neural substrates are beginning to be understood. ...
Pavlov noticed that the dogs in the experiment began to salivate in the presence of the technician who normally fed them, rather than simply salivating in the presence of food. Pavlov called the dogs' anticipatory salivation "psychic secretion." From his observations he predicted that a stimulus could become associated with food and cause salivation on its own, if a particular stimulus in the dog's surroundings was present when the dog was given food. In his initial experiments, Pavlov presented a stimulus and then gave the dog food; after a few repetitions, the dogs started to salivate in response to the stimulus. Pavlov called the stimulus the conditioned (or conditional) stimulus (CS) because its effects depend on its association with food. He called the food the unconditioned stimulus (US) because its effects did not depend on previous experience. Likewise, the response to the CS was the conditioned response (CR) and that to the US was the unconditioned response (UR). The timing between the presentation of the CS and US affects both the learning and the performance of the conditioned response. Pavlov found that the shorter the interval between the CS (e.g. metronome) and the appearance of the US (e.g. food), the stronger and quicker the dog learned the conditioned response.