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Pavlovian conditioning in plantsFeatured science projectScience project video


This science fair project was performed to ascertain if Pavlovian conditioning works in plants. The The science project experiment involved the Mimosa Pudica plant.


The Mimosa Pudica plant will not respond to Pavlovian conditioning.

Scientific Terms

Mimosa pudica, stimulated, seismonastic movements, turgor pressure


Mimosa Pudica

The Mimosa pudica is a plant which has leaves that will droop and close shut if they are stimulated by touch, wind or by shaking. The leaves will normally re-open a few minutes after the stimulation has ceased. This plant will also normally close its leaves at night or in the dark and open them in daytime.

The movements of the leaves are called seismonastic movements. When the Mimosa pudica plant is given stimulus by touch, the cells in certain parts of the leaves will lose their turgor pressure. This pressure is the force of the water within the plant cells, against the walls of the cell. The stimuli will trigger the release of chemicals that will force the water in the cells to escape. This will make some parts of the leaves to lose pressure and the leaf petiole will close.

Pavlovian conditioning

Pavlovian conditioning occurs when a significant stimulus (like feeding) which has an unconditional response (like salivating) is preceded by a conditional stimulus (like the ringing of a bell). When this is repeated over and over again, associated learning occurs and the two events become connected in the memory of the test subject. The next time the conditional stimulus (ringing the bell) occurs, the unconditional response (salivating) will happen even if there is no significant stimulus (feeding or food) present.

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Complexity level:
Project cost ($):
Time required:
7 days to prepare, 2 hours for the science fair project experiment
Material availability:
Purchased at a plant nursery
Safety concerns:

Basic safety requirements