Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Corr I 349
Conceptual Nervous System/Gray: An (…) important aspect of RST (>Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory) is the distinction between those parts that belong to the conceptual nervous system (cns) and those parts that belong to the central nervous system (CNS) (a distinction advanced by Hebb 1955)(1).
Def cns/Hebb: The cns component of RST provides the behavioural scaffolding, formalized within some theoretical framework (e.g., learning theory; see Gray 1975(2); or, ethoexperimental analysis; see Gray and McNaughton 2000)(3);
Def CNS/Hebb: the CNS component specifies the brain systems involved, couched in terms of the latest knowledge of the neuroendocrine system (see McNaughton and Corr 2008)(4). As noted by Gray (1972a)(5), these two levels of explanation must be compatible


1. Hebb, D. O. 1955. Drives and the C. N. S. (Conceptual Nervous System), Psychological Review 62: 243–54
2. Gray, J. A. 1975. Elements of a two-process theory of learning. London: Academic Press
3. Gray, J. A. and McNaughton, N. 2000. The neuropsychology of anxiety: an enquiry into the functions of the septo-hippocampal system. Oxford University Press
4. Corr, P. J. and McNaughton, N. 2008. Reinforcement sensitivity theory and personality, in P. J. Corr (ed). The reinforcement sensitivity theory of personality, pp. 155–87. Cambridge University Press
5. Gray, J. A., 1972a. Learning theory, the conceptual nervous system and personality, in V. D. Nebylitsyn and J. A. Gray (eds.), The biological bases of individual behaviour, pp. 372–99. New York: Academic Press


Philip J. Corr, „ The Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory of Personality“, in: Corr, Ph. J. & Matthews, G. (eds.) 2009. The Cambridge handbook of Personality Psychology. New York: Cambridge University Press

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Corr II 115
Conceptual Nervous System/Central Nervous System/Brain/Drugs/Gray/McNaughton/Corr: One can, and Gray in particular did, map in [two] directions: between a ‘conceptual nervous system’ (cns) of the type inferred by Hebb (1955)(1) from the careful observation of experimentally constrained behaviour and the real ‘central nervous system’ (CNS) studied by neuroanatomy and neurophysiology. Gray’s unique step was to use drugs as a conceptual dissection tool – assuming that a drug changes synaptic activity (CNS) and so behaviour (cns) in parallel. Suppose a drug affects behaviour A but not behaviour B. We can be sure that A depends on a process not shared by B. Critically, this means we exclude from consideration all cognitive and neural processes that are not drug-sensitive. Drugs, thus, dissect both the cns and CNS in a highly replicable, theory-independent, way. Gray used drug dissection in a particularly powerful way: (…) to tie together specific behaviours, neural systems, personality systems and clinical disorders.
II 125
Introversion/Gray: (…) Gray concludes ‘that it is activity in this frontal cortex-medial septal area-hippocampal system which determines the degree of introversion: the more sensitive or the more active this system is, the more introverted will the individual be’ (1970a, p. 260)(2).


1. Hebb, D. O. (1955). Drives and the C.N.S. (conceptual nervous system). Psychological Review, 62, 243–254.
2. Gray, J. A. (1970a). The psychophysiological basis of introversion–extraversion. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 8, 249–266.


McNaughton, Neil and Corr, John Philip: “Sensitivity to Punishment and Reward Revisiting Gray (1970)”, In: Philip J. Corr (Ed.) 2018. Personality and Individual Differences. Revisiting the classical studies. Singapore, Washington DC, Melbourne: Sage, pp. 115-136.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Gray, Jeffrey A.
Corr I
Philip J. Corr
Gerald Matthews
The Cambridge Handbook of Personality Psychology New York 2009

Corr II
Philip J. Corr (Ed.)
Personality and Individual Differences - Revisiting the classical studies Singapore, Washington DC, Melbourne 2018


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