The protection mechanism of life—conditioned reflex
What is conditioned reflex?
It was a rainy autumn day in 1980. I was looking out of the closed window of a classroom in the Geological Technical School of Zhangjiakou. Suddenly a classmate called Cheng Hongfu from Sichuan, mischievously spitted at me from outside the window. Subconsciously I stepped backward, closing both eyes instantly. This chain of reactions triggered the burst of laughter of Cheng Hongfu, who said jestingly, “Monitor, what a coward you are! The window is closed. How can I spit on your face?”
I said, “I did not realize that the window was closed. Do it one more time, and I will not react.” I moved closer to the window, thinking that since the window was closed and he could not reach me, I would remain calm even if he spitted blood to me.
“Are you ready?”, before he had finished speaking, he had spitted to me.
“Haw-haw, monitor, you closed your eyes again.”
My eyes indeed closed at that moment. Later I tried a few times more. Still my eyes would not listen to my command. Every time he spitted, I involuntarily winked my eyes.
Later at the classes of physiology and psychology, I came to know that this involuntary physiological reaction is called conditioned reflex.
Pavlov even conducted an experiment on dog. The feeding of dogs was always accompanied by the ringing of bells. After some time the dogs’ mouths watered when they heard the bells, even before the food was brought in front of them. Why did this happen? It is because the ringing of bells has become a signal for food for dogs and a conditioned stimulus. The dogs’ prompt physiological and psychological reaction to this stimulus is called conditioned reflex.
In the chapter “Drinking Wine and Rating the Heroes” of the novel Romances of Three Kingdoms, Cao Cao related a story to Liu Bei, “The green plums on the branch I saw just now in the garden reminds me of last year’s fight against Zhang Xiu. We were running short of water through the long march then. The army could not put up with the thirst. Suddenly an idea came to me. ‘There is a plum grove ahead’, I cried and pointed with my riding whip. Having heard this and thinking of the sour green fruits, their mouths watered and they did not feel thirsty any more.”
Because of the conditioned reflex, the troops of Cao Cao secreted saliva when hearing plums.
There are endless examples of conditioned reflex. Poke at the crawling caterpillar with your hand or a stick, and it will immediately curl up into a circle. The abnormal behaviors of animals prior to an earthquake; Mimosa’s curling of leaves when touched; the palpitation of heart induced by a sudden sound at a quiet night; the contraction of muscles at the sight of a snake; the sneezes caused by the entrance of specks; the erection of penis and the secretion of lubricating mucus in the vagina when watching pornographic videos; the tightening of muscles and the flush of the face at the thought of one’s enemy; the trembling of the mouth and the shivering of the body in times of fear and tension; the spontaneous resistance when encountered sudden attack; inexplicable twitching of the eyelids, flush of ears, palpitation, and twittering of muscles—all these are results of conditioned reflex.
Why is there conditioned reflex in animals and plants? Whether we make explanations in the psychological perspective or the physiological angle, apart from the conditioned reflex acquired as second nature, the innate instinctive conditioned reflex can in no way be created by the plants and animals themselves.
The function of conditioned reflex is mainly life’s instinctive protection of itself and a subconscious instant reaction.
Who has designed this? Who but the Greatest Creator?