In the early 30s academician I.P. Pavlov, in his Reply to a Psychologist to Psychologists, wrote: “Man is, of course, a system (coarser, machine), like any other in nature, subject to the laws that are inevitable and the same for all of nature; but the system, in the horizon of our modern scientific vision, is the only one by the highest self-regulation … supporting, restoring, correcting and even improving itself ”(highlighted by me. – A. A.).
Thus, more than half a century ago, scientists noticed that a living organism has such a remarkable quality as self-regulation. It is thanks to this mechanism, worked out by evolution in the acting organism, as if by themselves the changes occur that ensure the performance of the necessary actions, organize the necessary behavior. But the fact that self-regulation in each individual case is carried out through the formation of certain functional systems necessary in this case was most clearly and fully stated only in recent decades by representatives of the school of academician PK Anokhin (by the way, the direct student of IP Pavlov).
Studies conducted in connection with the development of the theory of functional systems have shown, in particular, that each system has, so to speak, a vertical structure. This means that the scheme of the functional system is born on the “highest level” of the body – in the brain, where future activity is programmed (the cerebral cortex) and an emotional attitude to this program is formed (subcortical nodes, higher vegetative centers).
Here, in the central nervous system, there is a special apparatus that perceives and evaluates all the information that enters the brain from the body and the environment. This device P.K. Anokhin called the “acceptor of the results of action.” It is not only an assessment of the incoming information (so-called “afferent”) information in the brain, but also its verification with the ideal model of the very final result that needs to be achieved. In the event of a discrepancy between what is “necessary” and what is “happening,” the acceptor of the results of the action makes appropriate adjustments aimed at achieving the desired result. The task programmed in the brain, in the “upper floor” of the functional system, is then realized through its “lower floors” by means of “turning on” and “turning off” those organs that are needed to accomplish the intended task.
The activities of the bodies that make up the established functional system can proceed very harmoniously, extremely harmoniously – and then the person copes with his work successfully and easily. But, unfortunately, the joint activities of various bodies are not always clearly coordinated – and then difficulties arise in the behavior of a person solving a particular task. For example, a student who is not particularly confident in his knowledge, taking an exam ticket, often begins to worry so much that he is almost speechless. There is a mismatch between the activities of the brain and speech muscles in the functional system, which was supposed to be the basis for solving a specific task – the successful passing of exams. In those cases when all the components of the system act harmoniously, the student retains the ability to think clearly and clearly express his thoughts.
The same thing happens in sports with the “starting fever”, which is based, in particular, on the coordination of the brain and skeletal muscles: excessive excitation of the nerve centers leads to entrenchment of the musculoskeletal system, and as a result, the accuracy of movements is disturbed and injured muscle. Ideally, high mental arousal should be combined with an equally high degree of muscle relaxation. Valeriy Borzov’s run at the Olympics in Munich can serve as a model of such optimal consistency – swift, easy, relaxed.
However, evolution did not “foresee” what the sport would be in the 20th and 21st centuries, and did not foresee the need for antagonism between an agitated psyche and muscle liberation. Moreover, nature laid a direct relationship in man: the more agitated the psyche, the more intense the muscles become. But for this we are considered to be Homo sapiens – thinking people, to help evolution in correcting its imperfections and shortcomings.
Most often, disturbances in the activity of functional systems in healthy people occur during extreme situations, that is, in those moments when the body (and first of all its highest section – the central nervous system) experiences excessive stress, especially painful with negative emotions that have important to that person. Consequently, the self-regulation mechanisms inherent in us by nature are not absolutely reliable and do not always turn out to be strong enough. Thus, the acceptor of the results of the action also does not always cope with the task of forming the optimal mode of activity of the functionalsystems. At the same time, medical (in particular, psychotherapeutic) experience shows that if a person is specially prepared for the upcoming distress, he tolerates it fairly easily, and his functional systems (despite the negative influence of distress factors) continue to work quite consistently and efficiently, which contributes to maintaining well-being of the body when performing the next task.
Thus, the construction and operation of functional systems can be carried out in two ways. Usually they arise and decay as if by themselves, automatically, under the influence of certain needs of the organism or under the influence of environmental factors – in these cases the mechanisms of spontaneous, unconscious self-regulation act. But functional systems are capable of changing their structure as a result of a specific, consciously intended goal. Practice shows that people who are accustomed to reasonably use the power of words and the corresponding mental images, consciously formulated goal, as a rule, contributes to the harmonious construction of functional systems that ensure the upcoming activities and the achievement of the desired calm state. In such harmonious functional systems, all components interact in a coordinated manner, which ensures high performance of activities.
We conclude that human speech, with which one or another task can be clearly formulated, helps us consciously organize the coordinated activities of the individual components that make up the functional systems of the body. Therefore, using the possibilities of thinking and speech, you can help the body in establishing its successful and productive life – even in the most difficult distress situations.