The Doctrine of Higher Nervous Activity and the Problem...

The Doctrine of Higher Nervous Activity and the Problem of Animal Thinking

It is widely believed that IP Pavlov had a negative attitude to the hypothesis of the presence of more complex forms of higher nervous activity in animals than the conditioned reflex. Indeed, in the process of working on dogs, he did not allow the slightest thought that in the behavior of these animals in the experimental chamber any elements of behavior may exist, in addition to unconditioned and conditioned reflexes. So, for example, it is known that he even fined his employees for statements such as: "the dog thought" or "the dog decided". Pavlov's first reaction to the work of W. Kohler and R. Yerkes on the ability of the chimpanzee to "insight" as a manifestation of a reasonable solution was sharply negative. He accused these authors of a "harmful ... tendency to deviate from the truth," and this is his statement that is still periodically quoted by many authors. Later he wrote: "To Köhler ... it was necessary to prove that monkeys are reasonable and approach reasonably to humans - not like dogs, whereas chimpanzee behavior is nothing more than ... a number of associations that have already been partially received in the past, a part of your eyes are now being formed and are being obtained. "

To refute V. Köhler's conclusions and prove that in the behavior of even the higher monkeys there is nothing beyond the framework of conditioned reflex mechanisms, Pavlov began his own experiments. So in 1933 in his laboratory appeared the chimpanzee Rosa and Raphael. Employees of the laboratory PK Denisov, and later E. G. Vatsuro and Μ. P. Shtodin, working with these animals, first repeated the experiments of V. Kohler, and then conducted their own original research. The results of these experiments were quite unexpected for IP Pavlov, they greatly expanded his understanding of the behavior of anthropoid apes and allowed him to draw conclusions about the possibility of having a higher level of integrative brain activity in animals than a conditioned reflex.

Analyzing the results of experiments with Raphael at a laboratory seminar ("Pavlovsky environments"), Pavlov noted the ability of this monkey to operate "a mass of properties and relationships between phenomena." He believed that in these experiments it is possible to observe "... cases of the formation of knowledge, catching the normal connection of things", and called it "the beginnings of the concrete thinking that we are manipulating". It is necessary to pay attention to the fact that Pavlov did not identify these beginnings of concrete thinking with conditioned reflexes: And when a monkey builds a tower to get a fruit, this can not be called a conditioned reflex ... Analyzing the behavior of monkeys, Pavlov noted that when a monkey tries both, this is thinking in action, which you see with your own eyes. "

However, unfortunately, most of Pavlov's students did not appreciate and supported the radical changes that the views of their teacher were subjected to on the basis of their experiments. Moreover, many forces have been exerted to represent the most complex forms of behavior of anthropoids simply by chains and combinations of conditioned reflexes. Even in the 1970s. LV Krushinsky's attempts to draw the attention of the scientific community to this side of the Pavlovian heritage did not give proper understanding to the representatives of the school.

After the death of IP Pavlov in 1936, work on anthropoid apes continued under the direction of LA Orbeli, one of his most prominent students. However, the real development of IP Pavlov's idea of ​​the "beginnings of concrete thinking" in animals they received only in the second half of the 20th century. in the works of the student LA Orbeli, the Leningrad physiologist LA Firsov, as well as in the works of LV Krusichsky in Moscow State University.

In the 1970s. studies began on the training of anthropoid apes to communicate with a person through the use of intermediary languages. These works proved to be very promising for understanding the biological prerequisites for the development of human speech and thought. They are actively developing now.

At the same time, in parallel with the study of the "language" communication with the anthropoids, experimental work on the problem of the presence of consciousness in higher animals appeared. Gallup (1970, 1994) proposed a so-called "marking test" based on the ability of an animal to identify its image in the mirror directly with itself.

D. Pramakom (Premack, Woodruff, 1978) raised the question of the presence in animals of the ability to mentally put themselves in the place of the congeners and to foresee its intentions. This ability was called the ability to "build a model of the psychic", the formation of which is investigated at different stages of the ontogeny of the child. A number of tests have been developed to study this ability for animals.

Analyzing their observations of the behavior of animals in nature, the question of the presence of animals in consciousness was repeatedly raised by LV Krushinsky.

A great place in modern studies of complex forms of animal behavior is occupied by work related to the ability of animals to symbolize, abstract, generalize and other aspects of cognitive activity. A detailed review of these studies can be found in the monograph by ZA Zorina and II Poletaeva, as well as in other works of these authors.

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