SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

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THE 'ORGANISM-AS-A-WHOLE'
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trical device (E) which could give an electrical shock. The animal used for experimenting was an earthworm. The worm was admitted through the entrance (A). If he selected his way through (B), he got out without             Q
disagreeable consequences. If he selected (C), he received, first, a fair warning through the sand-paper (S) and, if this was not enough, he received an electrical shock at (E). After a number of experiences, the worm learned his lesson and avoided the path (C). After this habit was acquired, the five anterior segments of the worm were cut off. The beheaded worm retained the habit, although it reacted
more slowly. During the following two months, the worm grew a new brain and the habit disappeared. When trained again, he partially reacquired the above habit. Further experiments established that normal worms acquire the avoiding habit in approximately two hundred trials; and when the electrical device was put in the other arm, the worm learned how to reverse his habit in about sixty-five trials. Once the habit was acquired, the removal of the brain did not alter it. Worms with removed brains were also able to acquire a similar habit. Since the brain of an earthworm is a very small part of his whole nervous system, it has only a small dominance, and the neuro-muscular habits are acquired by the whole system and not simply by the brain. But, when a new brain began to operate, its dominance was seemingly sufficient to eliminate the habit.9
Experiments of McCracken with silkworm moths have shown that a beheaded moth can live as long as a normal one. It can be mated and will lay the normal number of fertile eggs arranged in the usual way. But it will not lay eggs spontaneously, and cannot select the proper kind of leaves on which to deposit them. If the head and the thorax were cut off, the females were unable to mate and their life was shortened to about five days. If mated before the operation, they would still lay eggs when stimulated.
In these more complicated cases, the brain is necessary for the more complicated behaviour, as, for instance, the selection of a mulberry leaf.10 Although the organism works as-a-whole, the differentiation and relative importance (domination) of different organs becomes more accentuated, the higher we go in the scale of life.