In animals and humans, innate programs of behavior are genetically laid down. These programs have developed on the basis of historical experience. They contribute to the satisfaction of basic life needs.
Example: In a newborn child, when immersed in water, a reflexive breath holding occurs. This reflex helps not to suffocate during childbirth. After a while, it fades away.
At a more complex level, innate behavior manifests itself in instincts. An instinct is a chain of interconnected unconditioned reflexes that provide the body’s needs for nutrition, reproduction, etc.
In some animals such a phenomenon as imprinting is known. This is the ability of cubs, just born, to remember the signs of their parents.
Example: chickens, goslings, ducklings hatched from an egg recognize the first living creature that they see as their mother.
The phenomenon of imprinting is also observed in humans.
Example: there are cases when a newborn child was among animals. Such a person retains the habits of animals for life, it is difficult for him to master human speech and fails to learn to write.
Acquired behavior. Elementary intellectual activity
The simplest acquired behavior is based on conditioned reflexes. By constantly interacting with the environment, the animal learns to find food and shelter, to escape from enemies.
But acquired behavior is not limited to the formation of conditioned reflexes.
Example: a stray dog will never rush under a moving car, despite the fact that it does not have a conditioned reflex to such a situation.
IP Pavlov, analyzing experiments on anthropoid apes, wrote: “When a monkey builds its tower to get a fruit, it cannot be called a conditioned reflex. This is a case of the formation of knowledge, of capturing the normal connection of things. ”
The ability of animals and humans to grasp the patterns that connect objects and environmental phenomena, as well as to use the knowledge of these patterns in new conditions, was called rational activity.
Rational activity is the highest form of adaptation to environmental conditions. Thanks to her, the body not only adapts to rapidly changing environmental conditions, but can anticipate these changes and take them into account in its behavior.
Rational activity reaches the highest development in humans and is manifested in the form of thinking – a set of mental processes associated with cognition.
Consciousness and thinking of a person
The highest function of the human brain is consciousness – a reflection in the brain of the surrounding reality. This reflection can be formed from words, visual images, mathematical signs and other set of information, which is called knowledge.
Thinking is a cognitive activity that allows, in a generalized form, to convey to other people your understanding of the surrounding reality.
The basis of thinking and consciousness is the analysis of a variety of information that enters our brain from the senses and from internal receptors that perceive any changes within the body.
In the process of thinking, concepts are formed. The more active and deeper the process of cognition, the deeper the concepts being formed, their content and meaning.
Example: the concept of “cage”, formed by a 6th grade student, has been developing over several years. As a result, a high school graduate has a much deeper understanding of the cell as a biological system than a sixth grader.
The choice of this or that form of behavior of both animals and humans is determined by vital needs:
- A person from birth has vital basic needs for water, food, in contacts with other people. A person cannot survive if basic needs are not met.
- With age, secondary needs appear: material and spiritual (the desire to eat tasty food, wear nice clothes, listen to your favorite music, watch a new performance, etc.). These needs are different for all people, they depend on the character, upbringing and capabilities of the person.
Needs cause changes in the way the brain works. Some of its structures pass into an excited state, and motivation is formed, that is, the urge to take actions that will lead to the satisfaction of the need.
The human brain is not able to simultaneously work effectively on the basis of a large number of motivations. Always in the first place is some of the most significant motivation, which must be satisfied, and then switch to something else.
Satisfaction of needs is associated with such a phenomenon as a dominant. This concept was introduced into the physiology of higher nervous activity by the Russian physiologist Alexei Alekseevich Ukhtomsky. He argued that with the formation of a demand in the brain, a stable focus of excitation (dominant) is formed. This focus unites different structures of the brain, which work interconnected and coordinated until the satisfaction of this need occurs.
The dominant inhibits the onset of excitation in other parts of the brain. It functions until the need that caused it is satisfied. Dominant is the basis of attention, it allows a person to focus on the main task.
Example: a person who is carried away by an important matter does not see or hear anything that is happening nearby. When the main life task is completed, the dominant fades away, and the body creates new functional systems for solving other tasks and meeting new needs.