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a system for controlling instruments, mechanisms, and devices. In biological control, various manifestations of the body’s life processes, with the exception of most voluntary movements, are used as control signals.
Bioelectric potentials generated by various excitable tissues, mechanical and acoustical phenomena accompanying the functioning of the cardiovascular system and respiration, and fluctuations in body temperature are among the processes that can be used for biological control. Systems of bioelectric control are the commonest. In these systems, the biopotentials generated by skeletal muscles, heart, brain, and nerves are amplified and processed, after which they perform the role of commands or control signals. The use of brain biopotentials made it possible to create automatic instruments to signal the onset of oxygen starvation, control the supply of anesthetics and maintain a predetermined level of anesthesia, and control an electroencephalograph in order to identify characteristic changes in the brain.
The devices controlled by the heart biopotentials are the most numerous. For example, electrocardiographic changes characteristic of certain diseases may serve as signals. One group of devices controlled by the heart biopotentials is used for purposes of diagnosis. These devices trigger signaling and recording apparatus in case of disruption of the heart beat, insufficiency of oxygen, and so on. A second group consists of devices used in therapy to trigger a cardiac pacemaker (when the normal rhythm is disrupted or contractions slow abruptly or the heart stops beating), to massage the peripheral blood vessels simultaneously with heart contractions, and to relieve the heart temporarily by means of an artificial heart.
A third important group of devices with bioelectric control is made up of active prostheses controlled by biopotentials of partly amputated, paralyzed, or completely intact muscles. While making his ordinary movements, a person controls an electromechanical or pneumatic device that causes movements in the joints of a paralyzed limb or hinges of a prosthesis. The manufacture of biologically controlled prostheses began in the 1960’s not only in the USSR but also in Great Britain and Canada (under Soviet licenses).
Biological control is also used in engineering—for example, in remote-control biomanipulators for work under water or under harmful conditions.
REFERENCESKobrinskii, A. E. [et al.]. “Bioelektricheskaia sistema upravleniia.” Dokl. AN SSSR, 1957, vol. 117, no. 1.
Gurfinkel’, V. S. “Bioelektricheskoe upravlenie ν meditsine.” Vestn. AMN SSSR, 1964, no. 2.
V. S. GURFINKEL’