Facilitation refers to the repeated passage of an excitation along the same pathway; this brings about a gradual and permanent decrease in resistance to this progression, and thus this channel develops into the preferred pathway for future excitations.
This term was used very early by Sigmund Freud (1888r, 1892g, 1893k). In the first article, Freud contrasts "facilitation and inhibition" to "reflex" and, in the two other articles, he separates "facilitation" and "inhibition" as the two modes of reflex transmission. The maximal usage of the term, as defined above, is found in Freud's 1895 "Project for a Scientific Psychology," with its neurological model of mental functioning.
Josef Breuer, in the Studies on Hysteria (1895), mentions the "attentional facilitation" invoked by Sigmund Exner (1894), who was dealing with the problem of energy and considered attentional facilitation to be pathological. In the "Project for a Scientific Psychology," Freud reworked the same notion differently to describe learning operations at the level of the "w neurons"and the memory, which tends to establish a type of operations similar to those of the ψ system governed by the principle of inertia. In this text, facilitation is conceived as a sort of double of the process of cathexis, the other important element in the management of bound energy.
Subsequently, Freud all but abandoned the term facilitation, which he uses only three times in The Interpretation of Dreams (1900a), where he opposes it to "resistance," and a final time in "Beyond the Pleasure Principle" (1920g), where facilitation is defined as a "permanent trace of the excitation" (p. 26) obtained through a decrease in the resistance against the progression of excitation.
See also: Binding/unbinding of the instincts; Hypercathexis; "Project for a Scientific Psychology"; Psi system; Signifier; Signifying chain.
Breuer, Josef, and Sigmund Freud (1895d). Studies on hysteria. SE, 2: 48-106.
Exner, Sigmund. (1894). Entwurf zu einer physiologischen Erklärung der psychischen Erscheinungen. Vienna.
Freud, Sigmund. (1888r). Rezension von: Phisalix, [CésaireAuguste], Sur les nerfs craniens d'un embryon humain de trente-deux jours (Compt. rend. CIV, 4, p. 241). In: Zbl. Physiol., Bd. 1, S. 268.
——. (1892g). Rezension von: Sternberg, [Maximilian], Hemmung, Ermüdung und Bahnung der Sehnenreflexe im Rückenmark (Wiener Akad. Sitzber. Juni 1891). In: Zbl. Physiol., Bd. 5, S. 859f.
——. (1893k). Rezension von: Sternberg, M[aximilian], Über die Beziehungen der Sehnenreflexe zum Muskeltonus (Wiener Akad. Sitzber. Juni 1891). In: Zbl. Physiol., Bd. 6, S. 24.
——. (1900a). The interpretation of dreams. Part I, SE,4: 1-338; Part II, SE, 5: 339-625.
——. (1920g). Beyond the pleasure principle. SE, 18: 7-64.
——. (1950c ). Project for a scientific psychology. SE, 1: 281-387.
1. (in neurophysiology) The effect of successive stimuli on the postsynaptic membrane, which results in the generation of an excitatory postsynaptic potential (EPSP). Although a single impulse may fail to cross the junction between adjacent nerve cells, the synapse becomes more responsive to the following impulse.
2. (in ecology) The phenomenon observed during succession in which the presence of one species increases the likelihood or speed of colonization by a second species. The first species brings about some change in the environment that make it more favourable for the second. For example, a pre-existing plant may provide the germinating seeds and seedlings of another species with vital shelter from the wind or protection from herbivores. Alternatively, it may alter the nature of the soil, for example by changing the pH, sufficiently to permit growth of a new incoming species.
1. The intensification of a behaviour that is caused by the presence of another animal of the same species.
2. The process whereby a plant so modifies a habitat as to allow other species to invade (as in a succession). For example, the grass Elymus farctus facilitates the invasion of Ammophila arenaria (marram grass) in the early stages of sand-dune formation. If the invader is more efficient in the new circumstances, this may lead to the decline and eventual exclusion of the facilitating species. Compare inhibition.
1. The increase in the responsiveness of a nerve cell or effector cell that is caused by the summation of impulses.
2. The intensification of a behaviour that is caused by the presence of another animal of the same species.