World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Erich von Holst

Article Id: WHEBN0008902473
Reproduction Date:

Title: Erich von Holst  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Cybernetics, Efference copy, Neuroethology, Grooming dance, Slice preparation
Collection:
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Erich von Holst

Erich Walther von Holst (November 28, 1908 – May 26, 1962), was a German behavioral physiologist who was a native of Riga, Livonia and was related to historian Hermann Eduard von Holst (1841–1904). In the 1950s he founded the Max Planck Institute for Behavioral Physiology at Seewiesen, Bavaria.

Holst is remembered for his work with zoologist Konrad Lorenz (1903–1989) concerning the processes of endogenous generation of stimuli and of central coordination as a basis of behavioral physiology. This idea refuted the existing "reflex theory" which stated that this behavior was based on a chain of reflexes.

Holst postulated that the basic central nervous configuration consisted of a "cell" permanently producing endogenous stimulation, but prevented from activating its effector by another "cell" that also produced endogenous stimulation which contained an inhibition effect. This inhibiting "second cell" was influenced by the receptor, and stopped its inhibitory functionality precisely at the biologically right moment. In this fashion normal physiological stability was achieved.

From his studies of fish that use rhythmic, synchronized fin motions while maintaining an immobile body, he developed two fundamental principles to describe the coordinative properties of "neural oscillators":

  • Beharrungstendenz: a tendency of an oscillator to maintain a steady rhythm. This would include movements such as breathing, chewing and running, which Holst called states of absolute coordination.
  • Magneteffekt: described as an effect that one oscillator exercises over another oscillator of a different frequency so that it appears "magnetically" to draw and couple it to its own frequency.

The result of the interaction and struggle between Beharrungstendenz and Magneteffekt create an infinite number of variable couplings, and in essence form a state of relative coordination.[1]

In 1950, with Horst Mittelstaedt, Holst demonstrated the "Reafference Principle" (Das Reafferenzprinzip) concerning how an organism is able to separate reafferent (self-generated) sensory stimuli from exafferent (externally generated) sensory stimuli. This concept largely dealt with interactive processes between the central nervous system and its periphery.

At the University of Göttingen, Holst did extensive research involving the mechanics of winged flight, and constructed numerous lifelike replicas of birds and other flying creatures, which included models of pterosaurs and dragonflies.

With earthworms, Holst demonstrated internal, autonomous, rhythmic behavior that is independent of environmental factors. By slicing a worm into separate segments, and attaching each segment to a sensitive voltmeter, he noticed distinct, consecutive deflections on the meter which demonstrated a potentional wave moving through the severed parts from the front to the end of the entire cut-up specimen at approximately the speed of a contraction wave of a wriggling earthworm.

He died in Herrsching am Ammersee, West Germany.

References

  • This article is based on a translation of an article from the German WorldHeritage.
  1. ^ von Holst, E. (1939). Die relative Koordination als Phänomen und als Methode zentralnervöser Funktionsanalyse. Ergebnisse der Physiologie, biologischen Chemie und experimentellen Pharmakologie. 42(1):228–306.

External links

  • Model Birds Learn to Fly
  • 'Beharrungstendenz' and 'Magneteffekt'
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.