Now we witness the new phase of science shifting from “stimulus-based” to “teleological” and “holistic” determinism, to establishing systemic views and to emphasis on activity. • This tendency hasn’t yet become the mainstream of science development, but it receives the growing support from leading researchers. (Ellis, 1999; Engel, Fries, Singer, 2001; Freeman, 1997; Jordan, 1998; Schall , 2001; Thompson, Varela, 2001; Vandervert, 1998; and other)
Present phase of development, as it usually happens during the period of transition from one paradigm to another, is characterized by eclectic views. • Theoretical base of majority of works is represented by a “mechanical” mixture of “stimulus-based” and “teleological” views.
Systemic neuroscience is way ahead of traditional neuroscience and psychology on this developmental path – due to overcoming, to a large extent, the eclectic way of thinking. • The way of today psychology and neuroscience repeats in many aspects the path traveled by systemic neuroscience.
Considering this path we may assume that psychology and neuroscience move from the Cartesian past through the eclectic present to the systemic future. Accepting this, we can predict concepts that psychology and neuroscience will arrive to in future.
1 • Starting from the considering behavioral mechanisms as coordination of sensory and motor functions (that corresponded to afferent and efferent parts of reflex arc, to afferent and efferent brain structures) psychology and neuroscience arrived to the viewing them as sensory-motor. • In future psychology and neuroscience will come to the conclusion that these and like “functions” (motivational, activational etc) are fictions, and that relations of the whole organism with its environment should be studied rather than “functions” in their traditional understanding as products of certain of certain bodily or brain structures. Function will be considered as achievement of a result by an organism based on systemic cooperation of activity of differently localized elements.
2 • In relation to the described dynamics of views we witness the shift from the ideas of strict localization of functions to the concepts of dynamic localization and distributed system. However, often this transfer is nothing but declarations. Dynamic localization is again substituted by the reviving strict one when researcher deals with “classic” functions like visual, auditory or motor or when specific mechanisms are under consideration, like “information processing” or “movement generation”. • In future the transition will occur to the idea that function cannot be localized in any brain structure (neither strictly nor dynamically) – it is characteristic of the whole organism, since function is not sensory or motor (as well as not sensory-motor) but are product of the whole organism. In this frame of reference the question about the role of different brain structures in behavior will be formulated as a question of specificity of “projection” of individual experience onto brain structures.
3 • From the consideration of behavioral mechanisms as reflex reaction psychology and neuroscience are arriving to understanding an organism as “reacting actively” or even “reacting purposefully” (!). • Sooner or later it will become clear that the view that an organism may coordinate its activity with future when finds it appropriate but can avoid doing it (just react) at other circumstances – this view is in line with “folk science logic” but nevertheless has nothing to do with reality. • Feed-forward reflection, goal-directedness is the main property of any living being. Any living system can’t avoid “looking into future”; moreover, all current activities are “future-coordinated”. As a result, it must soon become evident that the concept of teleological determination requires a radical change of the description of organism–environment relation as compared to “stimulus” determinism and cannot be combined with the latter.
4 • From neuron summating electrical signals on its membrane neuroscience and psychophysiology turned to views at neuron as a complex integrator of input influences, its functioning being dependent from dynamics of intracellular metabolism, history of neuron’s own and presynaptic activities, etc. • In future, albeit probably distant, the concept of neuron’s response as a result of integration of input influences will be substituted with (in no way be added to) the concept of a “goal-directed” neuron that is not a chip integrating inputs but a living “organism in an organism”. This neuron does not react but acts and not in response to but in order to get metabolites required for it survival. Neuron’s activity will be considered not as a response to synaptic inflow that ensures the conduction of excitation but as means of changing the relation with environment, “action” that helps eliminate the discrepancy between cell’s needs and its microenvironment.
5 • From archaic views at learning as increasing permeability of “brain pores” for “animal spirits” (R Descartes) or as forming pathways and local reflex arcs, neuroscience and psychophysiology turned to understanding of learning mechanism as intricate and modifying, as long as memory is consolidated, pattern of changes in neuromorphology, synaptic “permeability” and genes expression in many brain structures. • Further on we will witness the transfer to systemogenetic (perhaps another term will be used) view at learning: formation of a set of neurons specialized with respect to the system being formed by way of modification of cell selected from: a) cells prespecialized during early ontogeny and b) neurons formed in process of neurogenesis.
6 • The understanding of a neuron as a unit specialized in relation with sensory, motor, activational, etc “functions” (see 1), is being complemented in contemporary neuroscience and psychology with concepts about neurons specialized in relation to various “cognitive functions”, emotions, consciousness, etc, as well as in relation with specific aspects of behavior (e.g. the goal of behavior). • It will become clear that the variety of neurons’ properties making it possible to relate their activity with a great number of ever appearing “functions” may be explained by the specialization of neurons in relation to systems of different degree of differentiation that were formed at different stages of individual development.
7 • The views on sensory encoding as successive stages of processing of information that is being transmitted from receptors centripetally are now partly substituted by considering mechanisms of top-down control. This shift may be expected to determine an increasing involvement of concepts of activity and anticipation into the set of scientific research tools, as well as intensification of studies of efferent influences upon peripheral elements. • In future neuroscience and psychophysiology are likely to make next step in that direction and accept the idea that neural elements, starting from peripheral receptors, are specialized with respect to certain behavioral acts and take part in subserving these acts. Then it will become clear that the concept of “teleological” determination are equally applicable to central and peripheral levels.
8 • Neuroscience and psychophysiology are now turning from the reflex-based idea of consecutive involvement of afferent and efferent, central and peripheral structures in subserving of behavior to the concept of synchronous work of different nervous structures as a mechanism underling perception, memory, consciousness. • Later the understanding will be formed that “afferent” and “efferent”, central and peripheral structures work synchronously. And this synchrony is not a means to facilitate transmission of excitation between structures or link together different parameters of a stimulus that are encoded by the activity of distant cell groups – detectors of respective characteristics; synchrony is due to simultaneous involvement of elements from these structures into deployment of all-brain systemic mechanisms of behavior. It will become clear accordingly that perception, memory, consciousness, etc are just special ways to describe different aspects of the unified systemic process – this deployment.