Some Experimental Observations on the Neuroanatomical Substrates of Learned Adaptive Behaviors

  • Sebastian P. Grossman


Adaptation is a concept which has been defined quite differently in a number of scientific disciplines. The neurophysiologist uses the term to describe a response decrement that occurs, purely as a consequence of repeated stimulation of a sensory receptor or nerve fiber. Such a response decrement is, of course, also “adaptive” in the sense that most behavioral scientists use the term, since it prevents excessive use of a system and thus may prevent harmful consequences. However, this is excess meaning so far as the neurophysiologist is concerned. He, in fact, goes to considerable trouble to distinguish adaptation from the response decrement which can be seen in the central nervous system after it has been established that a stimulus does not have “significance” (i.e., does not portend food, shelter, a mate, an enemy, etc.). This process of habituation is, of course, quite closely related to adaptation as the behaviorist uses the term. Continued responses to insignificant stimuli or, conversely, a loss of responses to stimuli that are of potential significance for the survival of the individual or the perpetuation of the species is a generally acceptable if not terribly informative definition of maladaptive behavior.


Substantia Nigra Caudate Nucleus Avoidance Behavior Passive Avoidance Medial Forebrain Bundle 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sebastian P. Grossman
    • 1
  1. 1.Committee on BiopsychologyThe University of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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