Certain aspects of psychomotor activity in different styles of cognitive activity of an individual

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Aim. This investigation studies the parameters of the psychomotor components of the types of the nervous system (NS) of personality in different styles of cognitive functioning.

Materials and Methods. One hundred medical university students (mean age 22.01±1.84 years, 15 males and 85 females) were examined. Experimental research methods: 1. Express method for determining the properties of the NS – computer modification of the tapping test of E.P. Ilyin – Psychomotor test of the NS (Neurosoft, Ivanovo). Criteria of strength, endurance, and lability of nervous processes in connection with the intensity of work. 2. Assessment of cognitive functioning – a method of discrimination of the properties of concepts (cognitive style concrete/abstract conceptualization).

Results. All participants were ranked to 4 poles of cognitive style: 1 – abstract subjectivity of conceptualization (4.9%); 2 – abstract realism of conceptualization (10.1%); 3 – concrete subjectivity of conceptualization (9.5%); 4 – concrete realism of conceptualization (5.3%). In the group of studied individuals, a descending graph of movement speed dominated (61%), which corresponds to a weak type of NS; 10% of participants had a strong type of NS characterized by a convex graph type; a flat type was identified in 14% of patients. This type indicates a medium strength of the NS. Intermediate and concave types were diagnosed in 15% of participants, which corresponds to a moderately weak type of NS. In the statistical analysis of psychomotor NS parameters participant groups with different poles of conceptualization expression according to the criteria of E.P. Ilyin, the data obtained showed an interrelationship between a strong type of NS and a subjective concrete conceptualization. It was an expressed style of realistic abstractness and a weak type of NS.

Conclusion. The maximum frequency of the tapping test, being a parameter of the speed aspect of psychomotor activity, allows using this criterion to assess the overall activity and the style peculiarities of the cognitive activity, expressed in different types of conceptualization. Peculiarities of cognitive activity, expressed in the increased subjectiveness of conceptualization, correlate with functional mobility enhancement of the cortical processes, increase in information processing speed, and the effectiveness of integrative brain activity.

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Individuals’ individual mental properties are manifested by the temperament and properties of the nervous system (NS) of the personality. They are a determined complex of symptoms with manifestations at different levels of the integral personality, reflected in the individual style of human motor activity [1].

The study of the specific style of motor activity of an individual was initiated by V.S. Merlin in 1986. It was continued by his followers and students on the actions of athletes [2]. The doctrine of the individual style of motor activity was based on the idea of A. Adler, who understood it as a unique life path of an individual. However, at the same time, he stated that «he lifestyle is not created by a person, but is imposed by the properties of an organism and social conditions» [3]. In the same way, V.S. Merlin’s theory about the individual style of activity was formulated, which he understood as «a system of interrelated actions providing achievement of a certain result» [4].

This direction was further developed in the scientific works of the Perm School under the leadership of B.A. Vyatkin. It was proved that the basic components of the individual style of motor skills are typological personality traits based on the specific properties of the NS. So, in the work of I.E. Pravednikova, the phenomenon of the individual style of motor activity was first described as a categorizer of psychological, personal, neurodynamic, and psychodynamic characteristics, and its role in the systemic organization of individuality was reflected. The author presented the individual style of motor activity as a stable and rational system of manifestations of motor charac-teristics and actions determined by a complex of different-level properties of the integral individuality of the NS and of temperament, aimed at achieving a successful result of human activity [5].

For many years, at the Department of Psychiatry, Kursk State Medical University, a new paradigm of the integral study of individuality as biopsychosocial integrity has been developed under the leadership of V.V. Plotnikov. Here the emphasis was placed on a study of those parameters of individuality in which it manifests itself as an integral psychobiological system that combines factors of genetic predisposition, the requirements of the social and objective environment to mechanisms of adaptation in the individual history of life, and also personal, mental, psychoemotional, neurophysiological, and other biological prerequisites for individuality. Being organized into a system in the ontogenesis, these factors produce integrative individuality parameters, characterized by the appearance of emergent qualities inherent to the system as a whole and not reducible to the components forming it [6]. In the works of the departmental staff, the integrative structure of the style of human intellectual activity was confirmed, with this, as an integrative structure of individuality, a quadripolar structure of the cognitive style concrete/abstract conceptua-lization (CS C/A C) was first used [7]. It represented two vectors: concretion-abstractness and subjectivity-realism. It was proved that this cognitive style is associated with emotional-volitional personality characteristics, electrocortical and autonomic manifestations of individual activation of the central NS, with the most significant parameters being those of the vector subjectivity-realism. However, B.M. Teplov suggested that the activity was determined by complex individual «dynamic characteristics» [8]. Since it was an integral property of the type of NS, it is reflected in the originality of cognitive activity. In addition, it provided the ground for further investigation of the integrative structure of the CS C/A C in the framework of psychomotor activity of a person.

Aim – this investigation studies the parameters of the psychomotor components of NS types of an individual in different styles of cognitive functioning.

Materials and Methods

The study involved 100 medical faculty students of Kursk State Medical University (average age 22.1±1.8 years, 15 males and 85 females). All participants signed a voluntary informed consent to participate in the experiment. At the time of the study, all subjects denied somatic or mental health complaints.

The choice of experimental research methods was based on psychomotor parameters’ characteristics, with the predominance of the formal-dynamic component, and with an insignificant influence of the content of the methods on the test results. As an express method determining the NS properties, a computer modification of the tapping test of E.P. Ilyin – «Psychomotor test NS-Psychotest» (Neurosoft, Ivanovo) was used. This method allows evaluation of the criteria of strength, endurance, and lability of nervous processes associated with the intensity of work. The analyzed parameters are presented in Table 1.

Also, based on the strength coefficient of the NS, the expressiveness of its strength or weakness was determined. For interpretation of the results, a diagnostic scale was used (Table 2).

The strength of the NS was diagnosed by the form of the obtained curve of the graph of performance. As standards, four types of dynamics of the maximum speed of movement were used (Figure 1).

The main types of graphs of the maximum speed of movements (performance) are presented:


Table 1

Analyzed Parameters of Tapping Test

№ п/п

Characteristics of Parameter


Total number of taps


Average frequency of taps, Hz *


Initial speed of work and its dynamics during the test, Hz


Average difference in speed

Ilyin's Criteria


Number of taps in the first part of the test


Degree of deviation of the performance curve from the initial level


Strength index of NS


Lability of NS



Note: * – the frequency of taps in Hz was measured in 5 s intervals


Table 2

Diagnostic Scale for Expressiveness of Properties of the Nervous System



Strength Coefficient of NS

Expressiveness of Strength/Weakness of NS


from 0 to 6%

weak expressiveness



insignificant expressiveness



medium expressiveness



high expressiveness


44% or more

very high expressiveness


Note: The dotted line is the level of the initial speed of work in the first 5 s

Fig. 1. Types of speed graphs

1. Convex type – in the first 10-15 seconds of work, the speed increases, and by 25-30 sec-onds, it decreases below the initial level. The diagnosed type of NS – strong;
2. Flat type – the speed is kept at the maximum level during the entire time of work. NS of medium strength;
3. Descending type – the maximum speed decreases as early as after a 5-sec inter-val and keeps it low throughout the remaining time. This type corresponds to the weak type of NS;
4. Intermediate type – after 10-14 sec from the start of work, the speed of work de-creased. NS type – medium-weak;
5. Concave type – initial decrease in the maximum speed, which later increases for a short-term to the initial level. NS type – medi-um-weak.

The method of discrimination of the properties of concepts (MDPC) was used to study the cognitive activity of the test objects. It was developed and standardized by the staff of the Department of Psychiatry of Kursk State Medical University. It is a modification of the well-known test to compare concepts and permits both qualitative and quantitative assessment of CS C/A C. In MDPC, the subjects’ cognitive processes were simultaneously measured in two vectors a) concretion-abstractness, determined by the number of actualized traits; b) realism-subjectivity, assessed by the probabilistic characteristics of the properties involved. The probability matrix of the actualization of properties was obtained by standardizing the technique [9].

Statistical processing of the obtained data was performed using Microsoft Office Excel 2007 and the SPSS Statistics, Statistika 10.0 statistical software package (Stat Soft Inc., USA). The following methods were used: descriptive statistics–mean, standard error, standard deviation; testing the normal distribution hypothesis – Shapiro-Wilk test; study of the relationship between two variables measured in metric scales on the same sample – Pearson's correlation coefficient. Statistical differences were considered significant at p≤0.05.

Results and Discussion

According to the data obtained by MDPC, all the subjects were categorized into four groups, depending on the expression of the poles of concretion-abstractness and realism-subjectivity (Table 3).

The study showed that realistic conceptualization in the group of participants predominated with a shift toward the abstractness pole (15%). This shift charac-terizes their cognitive activity as being oriented toward the external world and is largely determined by the conditions of objective reality. They easily assimilate concepts and theoretical ideas in the process of education. However, they do not reveal their own position concerning the assimilated material but accept it unconditionally. In other words, their worldview largely corresponds to the criteria assimilated in the process of education, communication, generally accepted values, generally valid ideas, and ideals.

Further, the study of properties of the NS was conducted based on the parameters of psychomotor activity of the participants in the general sample (Table 4).

In the general group of participants, the descending type of graph of the speed of movement prevailed (61%), which corresponds to a weak type of NS. Only 10% of the test objects had a strong type of NS characterized by the convex type of the graph. This fact suggests that only 10% of students could maintain a high working capacity for a long time. The low level of the initial speed of work in individuals with strong NS is attributed to people having a «reserve» of mobilization abilities. This category of people began to work less effectively than participants in other groups. However, due to volitional effort and summation of excitations in the NS, they gradually increased the speed. They maintained it for a long time, which led to the fact that the average speed and the total number of taps in


Table 3

Quadripolar Structure of Conceptualization of Participants


Conceptualization Pole

Number of Traits

Concretion-Abstractness Vector

Strongly expressed abstractness

Expressed abstractness

Moderately predominating abstractness

Moderately predominating concretion

Expressed predomination of concretion

Strongly expressed predomination of concretion







Proportion of subjects, %

Realism-Subjectivity Vector

Strongly expressed subjectivity








Expressed subjectivity








Moderate predomination of subjectivity








Moderate predomination of realism








Expressed predomination of realism








Strongly expressed realism









Table 4

Values of Calculated Parameters in Groups of Participants


Graph Type



Total Number of taps

Initial Speed of Work, Hz

Average Difference in Speed

Interval between Taps, ms

Share in Total Sample, %















Intermediate and Concave *















Note: *–intermediate and concave types of performance graphs were combined into one group based on a common type of NS, to which identification they were aimed

this group were at the level of other groups [10].

A high total number of taps in the group with weak NS in combination with a high average frequency and high initial speed of work, showed early high activity in this category of people («quick start») and the subsequent rapid manifestation of inhibitory reactions of the NS, consisting of a constant decline in the speed of work. However, this phenomenon manifested itself only in dynamics. In the initial stages, the working capacity of these individuals was noticeably higher than in other groups.

Throughout the test, the most efficient group was the group with the average strength of the NS (a flat type of curve). This fact was confirmed by high values of all calculated parameters, indicating the stability of the working capacity at the beginning of the work and throughout it (low average difference in the speed). It should be noted that the volume of work performed (the total number of taps) in this group was at a high level. It can be suggested that if the test continued, participants with an average type of nervous activity might outstrip those from other groups in the total number of taps due to the preserving their working capacity.

In the subsequent analysis of the NS psychomotor parameters in the participant groups with different poles of the expressiveness of conceptualization according to Ilyin's criteria, the following data were obtained (Table 5).


Table 5

Values of Endurance and Strength of the Nervous System in Groups of Participants


Conceptualization Type

Ilyin's Criteria


Number of taps in the first part of the test

Level of endurance

Degree of deviation of performance from the initial level

Strength index NS

NS strength c coefficient. %

Convex curve type

Realistic abstractness







Subjective concretion






Flat curve type

Realistic abstractness







Subjective concretion






Intermediate and concave curve type

Realistic abstractness







Subjective concretion






Descending curve type

Realistic abstractness







Subjective concretion






Mean value

Realistic abstractness







Subjective concretion








The smallest number of taps in the first part of the test was observed in participants with a strong type of NS and a subjective concrete conceptualization. This observation, together with a positive deviation of the working capacity curve from the initial level, confirms the calculated parameters, i.e., when the increased subjectivity of conceptualization combines with a strong type of NS, the efficiency at the beginning is higher than in the other groups.

The opposite situation was observed in individuals with evident realistic abstractness and a weak type of NS, in whom the level of endurance of the NS remains rather low. However, with the recruitment of internal mechanisms, the working capacity gradually increases. When studying the degree of deviation of the working capacity curve from the initial level, the greatest dynamics of the working capacity were observed in the group with a strong type of NS and a subjectivized style of concrete conceptualization. This parameter was a consequence of the greatest change in performance during the tapping test.

In the course of study of the lability of the NS in different styles of conceptualization, in individuals with a strong type of NS, the subjective concretion of conceptualization of this parameter was at a higher level (25.2±6.54, p=0.014) than in the shift of conceptualization toward realism (Table 6).

Table 6

Lability Level in Study Groups


Curve Type

Lability of NS (number of taps in the first part of the test)

Lability Level in Points


Conceptualization style

















Intermediate and concave













The high level of lability showed that this group of individuals was more adapted to monotonous work, not associated with considerable and unexpected loads that this type cannot cope with. Here, high lability will be manifested by autonomic symptoms: sweating, tremors, and tachycardia. A low level of lability in individuals with a strong type of NS in the same monotonous work will manifest through loss of mood, performance, and emotional excitability. For such people, extreme work with unexpected loads is more suitable, to which this type of individual is more adapted.


Thus, our research demonstrates the interrelationship between several levels of individuality organization. Thus, the tapping test’s maximum frequency, being one of the parameters of the speed aspect of psychomotor activity, makes it possible to use this criterion for assessment of the general activity of an individual and the stylistic features of cognitive activity, expressed in different types of conceptualization. This phenomenon indicates that the individual’s existing motor activity, based on which style of motor activity of the individual is later formed, characterizes the system of personality parameters (cognitive, neurophysiological, temperamental, motor, others).

The characteristics of cognitive activity, expressed in enhancing the subjectivity of conceptualization, correlate with an increase in the functional mobility of cortical processes, increase in the speed of information processing, and the efficiency of integrative brain activity.

Additional Info

Financing of study. Budget of Kursk State Medical University.

Conflict of interests. The authors declare no actual and potential conflict of interests which should be stated in connection with publication of the article.

Participation of authors. I.A. Belskikh – collection, translation and analysis of material, writing the text, concept of the review, editing, A.I. Belogurova – editing, processing of the material, statistical processing.


About the authors

Irina A. Belskikh

Kursk State Medical University

Author for correspondence.
Email: Irinabel84@yandex.ru
ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8072-3580
SPIN-code: 5071-8732
ResearcherId: S-8527-2018

MD, PhD, Associate Professor of the Department of Psychiatry, Kursk State Medical University

Russian Federation, Kursk

Alina I. Belogurova

Kursk State Medical University

Email: belskikhia@kursksmu.net
ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6555-4499
SPIN-code: 1320-1479
ResearcherId: AAS-6849-2020

Student of the Medical Faculty, Kursk State Medical University

Russian Federation, Kursk


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Supplementary files

Supplementary Files
1. Fig. 1. Types of speed graphs

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2. Fig. 1. Types of graphs of the pace of movements

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Copyright (c) 2021 Belskikh I., Belogurova A.

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