Eliciting motor responses through pavlovian conditioning

Elvis Agbons, Acha Scholar


Classical conditioning theory involves learning a new behaviour through the process of association. In simple terms, two stimuli are linked together to produce a newly learned response in a person or animal. It is the process of associating, and consequently, providing meaning to a neutral stimulus with another meaningful stimulus, in order to elicit similar response and the basic processes that occur in classical conditioning include acquisition, stimulus generalisation, stimulus discrimination, and extinction. It is, in fact, no doubt that Pavlovian theory is also known as the theory of classical conditioning has an impeccable illustration of associative learning, this paper attempts to depict its application to learning motor skills as well as to critically evaluate its influence in sports.


Learning, memory, classical conditioning, motor learning, motor skill acquisition, motor adaptation

Full Text:



Adams, J. A. (1968). Response feedback and learning. Psychological Bulletin, 70(6), 486–504.

Adams, J. A. (1971). A closed-loop theory of motor learning. Journal of Motor Behaviour, 3(2), 111–49.

Beers, R. V. (2015). Motor Adaptation. Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour. Department of Human Movement Sciences, University of Amsterdam.

Bouton, M. E. (2016). Learning and Behaviour: A Contemporary Synthesis (2nd ed). Sunderland, MA: Sinauer.

Chance, P. (2008). Learning and Behaviour. Belmont/CA: Wadsworth, ISBN 0-495-09564-8. P. 66 – 71.

Chang, R. C., Stout, S., & Miller, R. R. (2004). Comparing excitatory backward and forward conditioning. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 57(1), 1–23.

Ericsson, K. A., & Lehmann, A. C. (1996). Expert and exceptional performance: Evidence of maximal adaptation to task. Annual Review of Psychology, 47, 273-305.

Fairbrother, J. T. (2010). Fundamentals of motor behavior. Champaign: Human Kinetics.

Fitts, P. M., & Posner, M. I. (1967). Human Performance. Brooks/Cole Pub. Co; Belmont, CA.

Hall, R. (1998). Classical Conditioning: Background – Learning versus Memory. Psychology World. www.web.mst.edu/

Hall, R. (2000). Classical conditioning: Learning vs. memory. www.YourArticle.Library.com

Izawa, J., Rane, T., Donchin, O., & Shadmehr, R. (2008). Motor adaptation as a process of reoptimization. Journal of Neuroscience, 28(11), 2883–2891.

Kashyap, D. (2016). Perception: Meaning, Definition, Nature and Importance. www.YourArticle.Library.com

Mackintosh, N. J. (1983). Conditioning and associative learning (p.316). Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Maheshwari, V. K. (2012). Classical conditioning – Pavlov learning theory. Evolution of Educational Systems in India. www.vkmaheshwari.com/WP/

McLeod, S. A. (2014). Classical Conditioning. www.simplypsychology.org/classical-conditioning.html

Moxley, S. E. (1979). Schema: the variability of practice hypothesis. Journal of Motor Behaviour. 11(1), 65–70.

Newell, K. M. (1986). Constraints on the development of coordination. In M. G. Wade & H. T. A. Whiting (Eds.) Motor development in children. Aspects of coordination and control (pp. 341-360). Dordrecht, Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff.

Pavlov, I. P. (1897/1902). The work of the digestive glands. London: Griffin.

Rescorla, R. A. (1966). Predictability and number of pairings in Pavlovian fear conditioning. Psychonomic Science, 4, 383-384.

Rescorla, R. A. (1967). Pavlovian conditioning and its proper control procedures. Psychological Review, 74, 71–80.

Rescorla, R. A. (1988). Pavlovian conditioning: It's not what you think it is. American Psychologist, 43,151-160

Salmoni, A. W., Schmidt, R. A., & Walter, C. B. (1984). Knowledge of results and motor learning: a review and critical reappraisal. Psychological Bulletin, 95(3), 355–86.

Schacter, D. L. (2009). Psychology. Catherine Woods. p. 267. ISBN 978-1-4292-3719-2.

Schmidt, R. A. (1975). A schema theory of discrete motor skill learning. Psychological Review, 82(4), 225–260.

Schoolworkhelper (2016). Learning: Classical Conditioning and Operant Conditioning. https://schoolworkhelper.net/

Shettleworth, S. J. (2010). Cognition, evolution, and behavior (2nd edn). Oxford University Press.

Shields, T. (2014). Skill acquisition in Sport – The journey to expertise. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 26(3), 252-259.

Starfish Therapies (2012). Motor learning: stages of motor learning and strategies to improve acquisition of motor skills. https://starfishtherapies.wordpress.com/

Taylor, J. A. & Ivry, R. B. (2012). The role of strategies in motor learning. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1251, 1-12.

Trickey, B. (2010). Classical (Pavlovian) Conditioning. Journal of Behavioural Psychology.

Watson, J. B. (1913). Psychology as the behaviorist views it. Psychological Review, 20, 158–177.

Watson, J. B. (1924). Behaviorism. New York: People's Institute Publishing Company.

Watson, J. B. & Rayner, R. (1920). Conditioned emotional reactions. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 3(1), 1–14.

Wei, K. & Kording, K. (2008). Relevance of error: what drives motor adaptation? Journal of Neurophysiology, 101(2), 655–664.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.15282/mohe.v7i1.165