Properties of CNS in Relation to Behavior

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According to Nebylitsyn (1972a), the role of temperament in human behavior is particularly pronounced when the balance between organism and environment is disturbed, which occurs in stressful situations. Gurevich (1970; Gurevich & Matveyev, 1966) conducted a field study that exemplifies this line of thinking. The authors demonstrated an interrelation between CNS strength as measured by laboratory methods and performance efficacy of operators during a breakdown in a power plant. Under these conditions, which may be characterized as extreme stress, the behavior of operators representing a weak type of CNS was disorganized, especially as regards perception, memory, and thinking. On the other hand subjects with a strong CNS displayed considerable endurance in the face of stress.

Most of the studies in which performance efficiency was related to CNS properties have been conducted in laboratory settings. For example, Rozhdestven-skaya (1980; Rozhdestvenskaya, Golubeva, & Yermolayeva-Tomina, 1969) in a series of experiments was able to demonstrate that, when subjects perform tasks consisting of memorizing verbal material under high tension and high motivation, performance efficiency is higher in strong than in weak CNS individuals. In experiments characterized by monotonous situations a reverse relationship holds between performance efficiency and CNS strength: efficiency was higher in individuals with a weak CNS.

Teplov (1964) hypothesized that inertia of the nervous system, as opposed to mobility, seems to be one of the most important physiological mechanisms under lying memory. This hypothesis gave impetus to a series of studies by Golubeva (1972b, 1980). Studying the efficiency of voluntary and involuntary memorizing in relation to NS properties, Golubeva found that lability correlates positively with efficiency of involuntary memorizing, whereas in voluntary memorizing individuals with a low level of lability are more efficient. Golubeva (1972b) also found that individuals with a strong CNS reveal higher efficiency in memory tasks involving large quantities of material and a low degree of comprehension. In Teplov's laboratory many studies have been conducted with respect to different functions of memory under a variety of conditions, always related to CNS properties (Golubeva, 1980). The results of these studies are rather equivocal (Strelau, 1983) and do not allow for general conclusions regarding the relationship between CNS properties and efficiency of memorizing.

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