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Undifferentiated Sensitivity Level

The lowest, germinal level of mental development, which responds according to A.N. Leontiev, undifferentiated sensitivity, immediately follows the pre-psychic form of life and the pre-psychic form of reflection. Accordingly, the phase of the background activity (always corresponding, as shown in § 3 of Chapter 1, to the previous level of development) is carried out here at the pre-mental level and is related to physiological and biochemical factors, i.e. can be called search only conditionally. K.E. Fabri notes that at the "initial level of development of mental reflection, the primary forms of external motor activity ... were determined only by irritability."

It can be assumed that the search activity was prompted at this level by the termination of assimilative biochemical reactions due to the separation of a living organism from those containing vital properties or components of parts of the medium for one reason or another. In the simplest case (with an insignificant spatial separation), it seemed to be expressed in disorderly chaotic movements, which eventually led to the approximation required for the actual active phase of the activity with the object of need. These movements, in all likelihood, had either a biochemical or physico-chemical nature.

Obviously, the primary undifferentiated sensitivity is aimed at the necessary for maintaining life properties of the environment, acquiring a signaling nature. Actually, the active phase of activity is manifested in a reaction to these properties, occurring at a certain (in the first stages of development, apparently very close) convergence with the subject of need. Upon its achievement, everything seems to be back to normal, the reaction (R) actually marks the restoration of internal activity. Here, external activity is a simple appendage of internal (assimilative processes), which at the level of undifferentiated sensitivity constitutes the main, essentially predominant part of life activity.

So, the general structure of life activity at the level of undifferentiated sensitivity can be represented as follows: actualization of need (cessation of assimilative processes) - background activity - stimulus-response (SR) - achievement of the subject need (restoration of assimilative processes). Stimulus - reaction (SR) act as a prototype of the reflex act (“prareflex”), which consists of directly related afferent and effector links. Note that the actual active phase of external activity is carried out only on the border with the internal, in the “pra-reflex”.

Mental reflection at this level acts as a sensitivity to the vital properties of the environment. It is also the inner side of the reflection result. At the same time, the external side of the result of reflection, properties of the medium that have a signal value, can be distinguished here.

Among modern living organisms there are no animals that meet the level of undifferentiated sensitivity in its original form. K.E. Fabri pointed out that “the structure and behavior of modern“ protozoa ”are already much more complex than their fossil ancestors. He believes that at the birth of animal life, there was a lower than that of modern single-celled, truly initial level of development.

At the same time, many modern animals are close to the level of undifferentiated sensitivity. These are protozoa (amoebas, ciliates, flagellates, etc.), many lower multicellular (sponges, coral polyps, etc.), for which K.E. Fabry identified the lowest level of the elementary sensory psyche stage.

It was noted above that at the initial level of psychic (animal) life, the phase of background activity is not yet related to the psyche and remains due to the pre-psychic forms of reflection.
The behavior of modern protozoa confirms this conclusion.

Modes of movement of the simplest are very diverse. Some passively move along with the water column in which they are located, there are protozoa moving in a reactive way. Amoebas move through the redistribution of the density of protoplasm, as if "pouring" it from one part of the body to another. The majority of protozoa travels with the help of flagella or cilia, which are hair-like plasma outgrowths. However, as K.E. Fabry, regardless of the methods listed, the motion of the simplest (kinesis) is mainly determined by the “direct effect of intensity gradients of biologically significant external factors,” such as chemical, thermal, etc. Locomotion (movement) of the simplest in the background activity phase is not associated with any mental processes.

The simplest are characterized by two types of kinesis - orthokinesis and klinokinez. During orthokinesis, animals perform translational motion with a variable speed determined by the gradient of the acting external factor. When clinokinesis changes direction. The change in direction of movement is carried out randomly, so that the animal “finds” the most favorable vector of movement after “trial and error”.

Kinesis are non-directional and do not provide a true orientation. Orienting processes that make an adequate correction to the chaotic change in the nature of movement are called taxis.

The taxis of the simplest, like their kinesis in general, are not associated with the manifestation of the psychic. Indicative in this respect is the upward movement of the ciliate of a shoe that does not have gravitational sensitivity. The orientation of the movement of the shoe is determined by the action of the contents of the digestive vacuoles, which presses on their lower part. If a magnet is placed over a shoe that swallows iron powder, it begins to move not up, but down: the powder presses not on the lower, but on the upper parts of the vacuoles, which leads to a reverse orientation of the movement.

Not associated with the manifestation of the psyche and the simplest reaction to temperature. K.E. Fabri notes that “here the energy directly necessary to sustain life is still identical with the mediating energy, signaling the presence of a vital component of the environment.” Any specific thermoreceptors for the simplest are absent. K.E. Fabri believes that the simplest reactions to temperature are similar to biochemical reactions of the type of enzymatic processes.

Actually the active phase of the life of the simplest, associated with the rudimentary manifestations of the psychic, is carried out in close proximity to the object of need. According to reports, the amoeba reacts to food from a distance of 20-30 microns. Predatory infusoria are also able to actively respond to the subject of food needs. Phobic reactions, such as amoebas and infusoria, also belong to the active phase of the simplest activity itself. So, in contact with a solid object or being in some other unfavorable conditions, the shoe stops moving and "shrinks", which usually precedes the release of stinging capsules.

Plasticity of behavior - the ability to individually change the innate type-typical behavior of the simplest is very weak. It is limited to the most primitive form - addiction. In the experiments of the German scientist F. Bramstedt, the paramecium was kept for some time in a vessel of triangular or square section and then moved to a larger vessel of circular section. In it, they continued to maintain their habitual movement along a path repeating the perimeter of the former vessel (Fig. 1.3).

Fig. 1.3.

The addiction of infusoria shoes

(according to F. Bramstedt)
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Undifferentiated Sensitivity Level

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