The Behavior Mechanisms Already Described Built into Complex Systems

  • Konrad Z. Lorenz


As has been explained in the Introductory History and in One/I/1, and mentioned again in Two/II/1, both Oskar Heinroth and I regarded the arteigene Triebhandlung, the species-characteristic drive action, as the smallest and ultimate, indivisible unit of behavior. But this unit is actually a quite complex mechanism comprising appetitive behavior, the function of an IRM, and the performance of a consummatory action. The conceptualizations of appetitive behavior, the innate releasing mechanism, and the fixed motor pattern have been proved applicable in many cases in which these functions are built into sequences of a kind that are very different from, and more complicated than, the species-characteristic drive action. If Heinroth and I regarded the tripartite sequence of appetitive behavior, IRM, and the consummatory act as a single, and the only element of animal behavior, this must be regarded as a simplification that is not only forgivable, within a new and developing branch of science, but also unavoidable and heuristically fertile. For, after all, when drawing flow diagrams, biocyberneticists intentionally rely on similar simplifications. Flow diagrams representing these kinds of complicated behavior systems, that is, appetitive behavior, IRMs, and consummatory acts, are so similar to each other that it is permissible to speculate that the mechanisms underlying their functions are not only analogous but physiologically akin to one another.


Nerve Cord Motor Pattern Hierarchical System Efferent Activity Abdominal Ganglion 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Konrad Z. Lorenz
    • 1
  1. 1.ViennaAustria

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