John Libbey Eurotext

Gériatrie et Psychologie Neuropsychiatrie du Vieillissement


Nicolas Bernstein and Pyotr Anokhin. Pioneers of modern psychophysiology Volume 19, issue 4, Décembre 2021


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Sorbonne Université, France
* Correspondance

The works of N.A. Bernstein on the construction of daily life movements in man and those of P.K. Anokhin on the integrative character of the nervous system in animal led to new descriptions of the brain functioning and behavior, which contributed to the development of neuropsychology by A.R. Luria. Their works, considered as conflicting with the Pavlov's reflex theory sanctioned by the Soviet authorities, were for a long time disregarded in URSS, and unrecognized in Occident due to scanty and late English translations. Bernstein described activity as directed toward the resolution of a specific motor problem, programmed and guided by a copy of the desired solution constructed by the brain (a model of the future), and implemented and regulated according to the probability theory by sensory corrections carried out at different levels of the brain organization. Anokhin's systemic theory of the brain functioning was defined by a complex integrative process with adaptive value, carried out by a system of permanent interactions between a cortical center and the peripheric motor apparatus, regulated by reverse afferences from the periphery. These descriptions appear to be close to modern conceptions of brain functioning, and remain of interest in the study of the relationships between psychic activity and brain functioning.