Ukhtomskii, Aleksei

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Ukhtomskii, Aleksei Alekseevich


Born June 13 (25), 1875, in the village of Vosloma, in what is now Yaroslavl Oblast; died Aug. 31, 1942, in Leningrad. Soviet physiologist. Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1935; corresponding member, 1932).

A student of N. E. Vvedenskii, Ukhtomskii graduated from the University of St. Petersburg in 1906. He became a member of the staff of the university’s subdepartment of human and animal physiology and headed the subdepartment from 1922 until his death. In 1937 he became director of the Electrophysiological Laboratory of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.

Basing his research on the works of I. M. Sechenov, N. E. Vvedenskii, and C. Sherrington, Ukhtomskii discovered one of the fundamental principles of nervous activity and applied to it the term “dominant.” He presented his theory of the dominant in The Dominant as the Working Principle of Nerve Centers (1923). The theory has found extensive application in medicine, psychology, and pedagogy. The notion of the dominant, together with his theory of learned rhythm, which showed that the pattern of activity in an organ corresponds to the rhythm of external stimuli, enabled Ukhtomskii to throw fresh light on the nature of fatigue.

Ukhtomskii’s “Outline of the Physiology of the Nervous System,” which was published posthumously (Sobr. soch., vol. 4, 1945), is of great pedagogical value.

In 1919, Ukhtomskii served as a deputy to the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Red Army Deputies. He received the V. I. Lenin Award in 1932.


Sobr. soch., vols. 1–6. Leningrad, 1945–62.
Izbrannye trudy. Leningrad, 1978.


Merkulov, V. L., A. A. Ukhtomskii: Ocherk zhizni i nauchnoi deiatel’nosti. Moscow-Leningrad, 1960.
Airapet’iants, E. Sh. Aleksei Alekseevich Ukhtomskii. Leningrad, 1969.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.