The Problem of Serial Order in Behavior

“My primal thesis today will be that the input is never into a quiescent or static system, but always into a system which is already actively excited and organised. In the intact organism, behaviour is the result of interaction of this background of excitation with input from any designated stimulus. Only when we can stat the general characteristics of this background of excitation, can we understand the effects of a given input. (…)

The remaining alternative is that the mechanisms which determines the serial activation of the motor units is relatively independent, both of the motor units and of the thought structure. (…)

I have devoted so much time to discussion of the problem of syntax, not only because language is on of the most important products of human cerebral action, but also because the problems raised by the organisation of language seem to me to be characteristic of almost all other cerebral activity. There is a series of hierarchies or organisation; the order of vocal movements in pronouncing the word, the order of words in the sentence, the order of sentences in the paragraph, the rational order of the paragraphs in a discourse. Not only speech, but all skilled acts seem to involve the same problem of serial order.”

K. S. Lashley