What can you infer from the name "Infant Nurseries' Neo- Pavlovian Conditioning Room"?

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One can infer that the infants will be subjected to Pavlovian conditioning—and they are. More specifically, they are subjected to the classic Pavlovian fear conditioning normally used on rats, which relies on both a sound that will frighten the rats and an electric shock.

In this case, Delta babies of eight months are being conditioned to fear books and nature. After being carted in on a wire-netted dumbwaiter, the infants are let out to crawl toward bright-colored, entrancing pictures of roses and farm animals in picture books. As they arrive in delight and begin playing with the books, they are subjected to a loud alarm that frightens them and makes them scream and cry. Then they are shocked with electricity:

There was something desperate, almost insane, about the sharp spasmodic yelps to which they now gave utterance. Their little bodies twitched and stiffened; their limbs moved jerkily as if to the tug of unseen wires.

There is also something more than a little sadistic about this procedure, but we're told it will be repeated a whopping 200 times:

Books and loud noises, flowers and electric shocks-already in the infant mind these couples were compromisingly linked; and after two hundred repetitions of the same or a similar lesson would be wedded indissolubly.

Such conditioning, which seems more than a little cruel and dehumanizing to us, especially when applied to babies, scarcely registers on the Director or the nurses and is considered necessary to the happiness of the society. Huxley clearly wants us to infer that there might be something wrong with this way of running a brave new world.

jlcannad eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ivan Pavlov did experiments in psychology.  He was part of a group called "Behaviorists" who believe that behavior is just about stimulus and response.  He did work with dogs where he "taught" them to salivate by getting them to associate the ringing of a bell to getting fed. He rang the bell before feeding them so often that they began to salivate just at the bell.  He'd taught their bodies to react in a particular way.

The children in this "nursery" are being trained the same way. The government is training them to like or dislike certain conditions, not based on what they truly want or need or enjoy, but based on how the government wants them to react.

There's also a really nasty implication here because the infants are being trained like dogs, implying that have no more value than a dog.  Of course, humans are devalued across the board, the one more case of devaluing human life is not particularly surprising.