The logic behind this simple action actually goes like this:
If — If the light bulb is off now;
Then — Just press the button to turn it on;
Else — If this is not the case, that is, if the light bulb is always on, then nothing needs to be done.
This is a very simple stimulus-reflection model.
We can see that in order to interact with the outside world, this stimulus-reflection model must have sensory systems to sense the stimulus, to know whether the light is now on or off.
In addition, it certainly requires a motor system that controls the hand to push the switch after the brain has made a decision based on information from the stimulus.
In animals, a lot of activity follows the pattern of stimulus-reflexes.
For example, a hungry little flying insect might behave like this:
If — If there is a strong smell of rotting fruit in the front left;
Then — There should be food there, so fly straight to the left and look for it.
Else — Otherwise, simply stay put and save energy.
Similarly, for a male rat in heat:
If — The smell of a female is coming from nearby;
Then — Run quickly and start courting;
Else – Concentrate on digging holes or finding food, etc.
There are also many places in our bodies where this simplest stimulus-the reflex model-is used.
For example, if strong light hits your eyes, your pupils will contract on their own to protect the retina from being damaged by the strong light.
Another example: if you are not careful walking, the soles of your feet stumble, your hands will automatically stretch out to help you balance, and so on.
This pattern of improvisation is actually very useful.To sum up, there are two particularly big benefits:
First, action plans can be prepared in advance;
Second, you don’t need to remember too much information.
Let’s start with the first benefit.Animals have a variety of innate coping patterns and action plans in their brains in response to changes in environmental information that are always present on earth.
This way, once a stimulus is present, the prepared reflection mode can be quickly invoked without last-minute cramming.
This pattern is useful for good stimuli, such as food, and bad stimuli, such as danger.
The second advantage.In this model, the animal doesn’t need to remember anything else.Such as:
You don’t even have to remember to turn off the lights when you leave the house in the morning. Just switch on the stimulus reflex mode and you’ll be able to turn on the lights when you get home at night.
The mice don’t have to memorize the patterns of the female mice in this field, they can find mates precisely based on smell, and so on.
Together, these two benefits could explain why the more important underlying behavior is, the more animals tend to use this simple but stubborn stimulus-reflex pattern.
In the examples we’ve just mentioned, looking for food, looking for a mate, pupil constriction, and preventing falls are behaviors that are very closely related to survival and reproduction.
By adapting this response, an organism can ensure that, for most of its life, it will be able to cope with the dangers and temptations that are common in the environment, find a mate and carry on the family line.