The sphere of interests of outstanding surgeon Nikolai Mihailovich Amosov included not only medical problems, but also general human cognition problems. General system approach to understanding human nature have been reflected in the scientific directions initiated by N.M.Amosov in various areas of cybernetics: modeling of physiological functions of human organism (physiological biocybernetics), modeling of cognitive and psychological human functions (psychological biocybernetics), modeling a man as a social creature (sociological biocybernetics). All these research directions have been represented in the Department of Biocybernetics founded in the Institute of Cybernetics by V.M.Glushkov and N.M.Amosov in 1961. Nikolai Mikhailovitch Amosov was the scientific leader of the Department since 1988.
The "Bible" of the Biocybernetics Department
In 1964 Nikolai Mikhailovitch Amosov formulated a hypothesis on the information processing mechanisms of the human brain. Within this hypothesis he expressed his system-level observations on the brain's structure and the mechanisms that are made operational by a human's mental functions. Of principal importance was the fact that it was not the separate structures, mechanisms or functions (such as memory, perception, learning and so on) that became the simulation object, but the brain of the human as a social being - the brain of homo sapiens. Such was the main idea of the monograph "Modeling of Thinking and of the Mind", published in 1965, which for a couple of decades became the bible for several generations of Department's researchers (and not only for them).
The reaction of the Soviet scientific circles to the appearance of this monograph can in general be evaluated as a weakly aggressive one. On the one hand, by that time physiologists and the "great philosophers" of physiology were clearly fatigued by the wide discussion concerning the firmness of core postulates of I.P. Pavlov's theories of higher nervous activity, that was hosted by the "Voprosy filosofii" ("Philosophical Issues") journal and initiated by a well-known physiologist A.N. Bernstein. In this discussion the traditional physiologists suffered a considerable defeat, albeit not a complete one. Much became "allowed", in particular, the statement on irreducibility of higher brain functions to lower ones was shaken. On the other hand, psychologists and the "great philosophers" of psychology were by that time thoroughly contaminated by widely accepted cybernetics concepts. Studies in which mental processes were explicitly treated as information processing started to appear, and ideological doctrines that dominated psychology for many years had already been weakened, but remained influential. (It is interesting to note that in those years, psychological publications were still found in bookstores under the heading "The Theory of Marxism-Leninism".) Under these conditions the publishing of N.M.Amosov's monograph was not met with official rejection (which would absolutely have not been possible five or ten years ago) and the Department's work continued without interference. The fact that N.M.Amosov was a deputy of Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union has apparently played its role: at the time, this was an important argument for "ideological acceptability" of his theories.
The ideas, which N.M.Amosov put forward in his book "Modeling of Thinking and of the Mind" were further developed in his subsequent works ("Modeling of Complex Systems", "Artificial Intelligence", "Algorithms of the Mind", "Human Nature").