The study of the rational activity of animals - non-primates...

Studying the rational activity of animals - non-primates

Along with works on primates, already since the 1930s. attempts were made to search for rudiments of thought in vertebrates of other taxonomic groups. Among the first studies in this direction were the work of American scientists. Mayer (1900-1977) and T. Schneirls (1902-1968). Investigating the ability of white rats to solve problems on detours, overcoming various obstacles, and learning in the labyrinth, they came to the conclusion that rodents also possess some rudiments of rational activity (English, reasoning). The reason for this conclusion was the ability found in rodents in a new situation to spontaneously integrate isolated elements of past experience, creating a new, adequate behavior behavior response. " In contrast, training, in their opinion, provides only an answer to the memory characteristics that remain in memory or reproduces due to a similar state of motivation previously performed reactions.

Another approach to finding the elements of the mind in lower-organized animals - the study of the ability to generalize and form the pre-verbal concepts - was used by V. Köhler's brother, colleague and like-minded K. Lorenz, Oh. Köhler (1889-1974). The work of this scientist was the most important stage in the study of the beginnings of thinking in vertebrates of a number of species. O. Köhler investigated a wide range of animal behavior problems, but his experiments on teaching birds "to the account", or more precisely to the evaluation and operation of quantitative, and in particular numerical parameters of stimuli, became known. On the basis of these experiments, he came to the conclusion about the birds' high ability to generalize the quantitative parameters of stimuli and formulated an idea of ​​the existence of preverbal thinking not only in anthropoids, but also in some vertebrates - non-primates. In his opinion, it was not speech that led to the development of a person's ability to generalize, and the presence of this ability in our ancient animal ancestors was the basis for the emergence of speech. The same views, based on general ideas about the laws of evolution, were expressed by Academician LA Orbeli (1949).

O. Kohler's works marked the beginning of a new stage in the methodology of behavioral research. His approach was characterized by the following features. Unlike most of the experiments of their predecessors, whose work was descriptive in nature and contained mainly qualitative analysis, he developed techniques that ensure strict controllability of the laboratory experiment and quantitative analysis of the data obtained. To this end, O. Köhler, during the experiment, isolated the animals from the experimenter in order to exclude the possibility of the influence of unconsciously given signals.

O. Köhler's method of experiment, which according to which the learning process constantly changed all the secondary characteristics (color, location, surface area, etc.) of the stimuli that make up the set, except for the main one, was the principal novelty, the number of elements included in its composition. In addition, all experiments were recorded on film, which created a new, much higher level of objectivity of registration, and the possibility of a subsequent subtle analysis of the results. Thanks to the works of O. Kohler account in animals has become the same model for studying the beginnings of thinking, as a tool and constructive activity.

A huge contribution to the development of the science of behavior was made by the professor of Moscow State University L. V. Krushinsky (1911 - 1984), one of the founders of the Department of Higher Nervous Activity of the Faculty of Biology of Moscow State University, which he was in charge of in his later years.

Leonid V. Krushinsky

Leonid V. Krushinsky

Leonid Viktorovich possessed a variety of biological erudition and a wide range of scientific interests, including the problems of developmental biology, pathophysiology, genetics of behavior, ethology, evolution theory. Along with this, he was perfectly guided in the problems of the physiology of higher nervous activity (the Pavlov school) and in 1937 he was invited by LA Orbeli to Koltushi as a consultant of IP Pavlov's planned work on the genetics of the typological features of the dogs' GNI.

Since the early 1940's. L.V. Krushinsky under the direction of Professor M.V. M. Zavadovsky worked at the Department of Dynamics of Development of the Biological Faculty of the Moscow State University until its defeat after the August session of the Academy of Agricultural Sciences in 1948. During these years he performed a series of works on the problems of ontogeny of behavior and formulated the concept of so-called "unitary reactions" on the relationship between congenital and acquired in the formation of a holistic behavioral act.

His studies of thinking animals were the most famous. In the late 1950's. LV Krushinsky together with the employees of the laboratory he organized, which was first called the laboratory of pathophysiology, and later named the laboratory of physiology and genetics of behavior, proceeded to a multifaceted physiological and genetic study of the beginnings of thinking in a wide range of animal species from different orders and classes of vertebrates. Nowhere in the world such work was not carried out at that time. LV Krushinsky made a great contribution to the study of the most complicated and most interesting problem, which is of great importance for psychology, he formulated a working definition of rational activity, and proposed original methods for its laboratory study. The main value of his methods was that they were suitable for testing representatives of a variety of species, which was done in the laboratory of LV Krushinsky. This made it possible to give a comparative description of the development of rational activity in a series of vertebrates from fish to higher mammals, to analyze some aspects of its morphophysiological mechanisms and the role in ensuring adaptability of behavior. This approach also included attempts to study the genetic determination and ontogeny of this form of behavior. In addition, it should be noted and the fact that LV Krushinsky was an excellent naturalist. Therefore, he always tried to compare the data of laboratory experiments with the way of life of a particular type of animal. A global generalization of the whole variety of facts obtained in the laboratory was the concept of the physiological and genetic foundations of the rational activity of animals.

The works of LV Krushinsky were a multifaceted physiological and genetic study of the beginnings of thinking in a wide range of animal species from different taxonomic groups. It should be noted that although domestic biology as a whole, including the physiology of animals and humans, seemed to deeply accept the evolutionary theory and was guided by it in its development, it was the hypothesis of animal elements of thinking that caused skepticism and active opposition from the representatives of the Pavlov school, and also psychologists. Meanwhile, IP Pavlov, to which they usually referred, in the last years of his life admitted that it would be an unjustified claim to assert that the entire higher nervous activity of the higher animal, once and for all, is exhausted once and for all by the two general mechanisms described (the temporal connection and analyzers) ;

This statement of IP Pavlov was repeatedly brought to the attention of LV Krushinsky. Nevertheless, until very recently, it was not given due weight, as it was done in the so-called "Pavlovian environments" - seminars regularly held in the laboratory during the lifetime of IP Pavlov - and published after the transcript of the transcripts edited by his students. In this regard, the works of LV Krushinsky on the rational activity of animals were met with hostility and for a long time were accompanied by a fierce and unconstructive criticism of official circles. This situation changed only in the second half of the 1960s.

The main results and theoretical views of LV Krushinsky are set forth in his book "Biological Foundations of Intellectual Activity" (1977), posthumously awarded the Lenin Prize and translated into English. In 1991 and 1993, two volumes of the "Selected Works" were published; LV Krushinsky, which included the most important articles from his scientific heritage.

L. Krushinsky's works can be viewed from the positions of different sciences about behavior, zoopsychology, comparative psychology, ethology, genetics of behavior, but we must not forget that the bulk of his research was carried out at the Department of GNI and was largely physiological in nature.

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