Models and Analogues in Biology

By Society for Experimental Biology | Go to book overview
effects of stimuli acting through the brainstem reticular system. Factors such as stimuli and hormones which affect specific patterns of behaviour are to be thought of as controlling this activity, of increasing the probability of one pattern rather than another. Changes in strength or threshold can thus be thought of as changes in the probability of one pattern of activity rather than another, and not as changes in the level of energy in a specific neural mechanism. This involves some return to a 'telephone exchange' theory of behaviour, but with emphasis on the non-specific input necessary to keep the switch mechanism active, and with switches which are not all-or-none, but determine the probability of one pattern rather than another. Furthermore, switching does not depend solely on external stimuli--i.e. we are not concerned with a purely reflexological model. This is not the place to pursue this view further: it suffices to say that it seems possible and preferable to formulate behaviour theories in which concepts of energy, and of drives which energize behaviour, have no role.
SUMMARY
1. Phenomena of motivation have often been explained in terms of an energy model.
2. The energy models used by Freud, McDougall, Lorenz and Tinbergen are outlined briefly.
3. The extent to which these models are considered by their authors to correspond with structures in the nervous system is discussed.
4. The relation between physical energy and the postulated behavioural energies are examined.
5. The number of forms of energy postulated by each author is discussed.
6. These models have had considerable success in discussions of the behaviour of the whole animal.
7. They have, however, certain grave disadvantages. In particular, these arise from a confusion between the properties of physical and behavioural energy, and from attempts to explain multiple processes in terms of simple unitary mechanisms.
8. It seems doubtful whether an energy concept is in fact necessary at all.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I am grateful to Drs J. W. L. Beament, John Bowlby, Charles Kaufman and W. H. Thorpe for their comments on the manuscript.
REFERENCES
ANDREW R. J. ( 1956). Some remarks on conflict situations, with special reference to "Emberiza" spp. Brit. J. Anim. Behav. 4, 41-45.
BEXTON W. H., HERON W. & SCOTT T. H. ( 1954). Effects of decreased variation in the sensory environment. Canad. J. Psychol. 8, 70-76.

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Models and Analogues in Biology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Quantum Physics and Biology† 1
  • Models in Genetics 6
  • Kinetic Models of Development And Heredity 13
  • Tissues in Culture and in the Body 28
  • References 40
  • Models of Muscle 41
  • References 66
  • Mechanical Models in Zoology 69
  • Conclusions 82
  • Physical Models in Biology 83
  • Estimation of Values Of Parameters of a Model to Conform With Observations 102
  • Summary 120
  • Applications of Theoretical Models to the Study of Flight- Behaviour in Locusts and Birds 122
  • References 138
  • Electrical Analogues in Biology 140
  • Computers and the Nervous System 152
  • References 168
  • Models in Cybernetics 169
  • References 190
  • Modelling of Large-Scale Nervous Activity 192
  • Conclusions 197
  • Energy Models of Motivation 199
  • Summary 212
  • The Use of Models in the Teaching Of Embryology 214
  • School Biology as An Educational Model 230
  • Conclusion 241
  • The Problem of Communication In Biological Teaching 243
  • Acknowledge Ments 248
  • A Review of the Symposium: Models and Analogues in Biology 250
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