PHYSIOLOGY IS BEHAVIOR.
Behavior is a physiological
change, a RESPONSE. It may be simple (e.g., flinching to a
sound), or complex (e.g. piloting an aircraft).
It may internal (e.g., pancreatic insulin production), or external
(e.g., smiling). It may be observable
(e.g., diaphragmatic breathing), or inferable (e.g., thinking). It may be intentional (e.g., deep breathing),
or unconscious (e.g., physical posture).
It may emotional (e.g., fear), or cognitive (e.g., a negative thought).
Behavior is a response to “something.” This “something” is called a STIMULUS. A stimulus can be “anything” that is sensed and perceived (also learned). This “anything” can be one “thing” or a configuration (pattern) of many “things.” Stimuli, of course, can involve any of the usual physical senses (e.g., taste). They can be visceral changes, thoughts, desires, and feelings. Stimuli can be places, people, environmental conditions, and times. Stimuli can be specific (e.g., a traffic light), or generalized (e.g., sense of self). And, very importantly, they can be the “experience of” behavior itself (e.g., rapid breathing).
The “same” stimulus may become a “different” stimulus as context, or “state,” is altered. Context establishes the “meaning of behavior,” e.g., what does fast breathing mean? In one case it means fear, and in another euphoria. Self-regulation patterns and styles, consisting of very specific configurations of stimuli and responses, are embedded in specific states and contexts. These larger configurations may constitute aspects of “self,” personality, or “psychological masks” that can be triggered, or withdrawn, through major STATE CHANGES brought about by overbreathing.
Click here to learn about state-dependent learning.
Learning is about information and meaning. Learning is usually a consequence of a stimulus, or a response, predicting an event. These stimuli are sensed and perceived, by a biological information “processing system.” This information processing system may involve a nervous system, or it may not (e.g., cellular). When STIMULI predict “meaningful” events, the result may be classical conditioning (associative learning). When RESPONSES predict events, operant conditioning (reinforcement learning) may be the result. The learning that takes place very much depends upon the nature of the events predicted, that is, their meaning. And, the meaning of these events depends upon individual biology and experience (specific learning histories).
Although learning necessarily, of course, involves sensation, perception, memory, and motivation most all of it takes place unconsciously: very little of it is learned by you. The way you coordinate breathing and gestures with speech and expression, is an example. Breathing behavior changes qualitatively, quantitatively, and immediately based on very specific stimulus conditions and their context, inside and out. Part of the work of a breathing practitioner is to help you uncover specific learning histories associated with your breathing behavior.
Behavioral Physiology Institute,