Laboratory of Conditioned Reflexes and Physiology of Emotions

Main areas of research

Currently, in the development of the ideas of academician P.V. Simonov, the theme of the laboratory is “Neurobiological foundations of the individual behavior of animals and humans” (2005-2010).

In our studies with the use of various methods, patterns were found in the organization of individual behavior and the brain activity of animals and humans. Individual features are most pronounced in cases where there is necessarily a choice in which different in magnitude, quality, or probability of reinforcement are evaluated and compared. The choice of one of two reinforcements depends on the value of the chosen reinforcement, and the psychological assessment of the value of reinforcement decreases proportionally to the growth of the uncertainty of its achievement. It should be noted that one of the most common methods for assessing the individual-typological characteristics of animals is based on the above principles for evaluating reinforcement in conditions of freedom of choice (uncertainty). At the same time, such parameters for evaluating individual behavior as impulsivity, self-control, caution, risk appetite, anxiety, etc. come to the fore.

According to the hypothesis we developed, the nature and characteristics of the manifestation of adaptive behavior are determined by the brain's abilities to assess the rewarding properties of reinforcement in different ways. This concerns both the value of reinforcement and the effort expended to achieve it (cost / benefit). To test the hypothesis expressed, complex studies are being carried out in the laboratory, including experiments on animals and humans using behavioral, electrophysiological and neurochemical methods.

Impulsiveness - self-controllability. The key role of the network activity of neurons in the structures of the mesolimbic system of the brain in the organization of impulsive and self-controlled behavior in cats and rats has been determined. The modulation of the cholinergic and dopaminergic systems of the brain by the single and network activity of the neocortex cells with impulsive and self-controlled behavior is shown. 

Caution-riskiness. It is shown that the choice between the probability and the value of reinforcement in a situation of environmental uncertainty is a way to investigate individual differences in behavior. The study of the frequency of selection of valuable reinforcements with a decrease in the probability of receiving it allowed classifying the dogs into “cautious”, “risky” and “moderately risky”.

When animals were placed in emotional-negative situations without developing conditioned reflexes, individually-typological behavioral characteristics were also detected, some animals adhered to an active, others passive behavioral strategies. The peculiarities of the interaction of neurons in the amygdala, hippocampus, parietal-temporal areas of the neocortex in active and passive rabbits were found. It has been established that brain lateralization at the level of these structures is associated with individually-typological features of animals and reflects readiness for certain forms of response to emotionally significant stimuli in active and passive rabbits.

The frequency-amplitude characteristics of the EEG and the individual-typological characteristics of a person were studied. It is shown that persons who have found high rates of empathy have a higher ability to recognize emotions in the voice and have a less activated electroencephalogram than people with low levels of empathy.

The results obtained are of fundamental importance and can be used as a method for diagnosing the individual characteristics of behavior in animals and humans. The study of the neurophysiological bases of typological differences is of undoubted interest for science-based pedagogy, vocational guidance and psycho-neurological clinics, as well as in the development of learning and memory models.

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