Elementary Thinking and the Classification of Behavior

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Science  12 Jan 1962:
Vol. 135, Issue 3498, pp. 75-87
DOI: 10.1126/science.135.3498.75


A theory of thinking is presented which attributes the human brain's outstanding efficiency and versatility in problem solving and learning to two memory functions. The brain's efficiency is considered to be largely a function of the capacity to remember previous operations involved in finding answers to questions. Man's outstanding versatility in problem solving is basically attributed to memory which can activate, maintain, and terminate activities independent of, or only indirectly related to, environmental or physiologic regulatory factors. Within-brain activity patterns which have unidirectionally alterable probabilities of appearance allow for adaptation (learning). The fact that the probability of appearance of nervous system activity can be altered to approach zero or unity allows nervous system units to act as their own timing controls during answer finding; the fact that units are combined into pathways allows for propagation of addressed messages at rates of the same order of magnitude as those of the timing controls.