Inhibition and Choice: A Neurobehavioral Approach to Problems of Plasticity in Behavior

Inhibition and Choice: A Neurobehavioral Approach to Problems of Plasticity in Behavior

Inhibition and Choice: A Neurobehavioral Approach to Problems of Plasticity in Behavior

Inhibition and Choice: A Neurobehavioral Approach to Problems of Plasticity in Behavior

Excerpt

That a book should make inhibition and choice, rather than response and learning, central to psychology, will startle many readers. The physical sciences provide an analogy which may help to clarify our purpose. Man's scientific efforts were first directed toward understanding the forces that move objects, forces that make for change, and it was a long time before the genius of a Newton recognized that a "balance of forces" is needed to explain the simple rest of a stationary object. Yet modern physics recognizes that the energies which are locked in the nucleus of the atom, which to our ordinary perception seems so inert, are immeasurably greater than those we associate with moving things.

In the biological sciences, too, men wondered first about the vital forces that move muscles and fluids and are responsible for the behaving activity of men and animals, and were slow to appreciate the need for study of inaction. Our habits of scientific thinking escape with difficulty from the patterns set by our naive perception of the world, as an arrangement of intrinsically inert objects which must be pushed into action. However, the inactivity of a living thing is a very remarkable phenomenon. Given an action mechanism, there is nothing remarkable about its activity. We may wonder at the causes that have Put it together so that it acts at all, but we cannot wonder that it acts in the way that it does, being constituted as it is. But when we have reached this level of scientific under-

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