Encyclopedia of Sciences and Religions

2013 Edition
| Editors: Anne L. C. Runehov, Lluis Oviedo

Innate Releasing Mechanism, IRM

  • Jörg-Peter Ewert
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-8265-8_200148

The term “innate releasing mechanism” belongs to a classical concept of ethology. It refers to a neural sensorimotor interface that mediates between a key stimulus and the adequate action pattern. An IRM thus has stimulus recognition and localization properties at its input side and behavior-releasing properties at its output side. The IRM should allow an animal to recognize and respond a behaviorally relevant object that the animal had never encountered before.

The term “innate,” however, is controversial since it may have different meanings, such as present at birth, a behavioral difference caused by a genetic difference, adapted over the course of evolution, unchanging throughout development, shared by all members of a species, present before the behavior serves any function, not learned.

For example, common toads Bufo buforecognize prey objects by figurative visual features as tests of the prey-catching activity in response to changes in the configuration of dummies have shown: a...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Natural SciencesUniversity of KasselSchauenburgGermany