Ad Hoc Activation Programs

Chapter 9

As mentioned in previous chapters, the overwhelming majority of activities in our brain is executed by activation programs(2) - schemes, in the terminology of J. Piajet. Part of the programs are with us from birth while the others were built during life. The programs are usually stored in the memory and drawn out when needed. However, the actual work is not done by these programs but by ad hoc executable programs based on them.

The ad hoc programs are temporary versions of the semi-permanent ones translated or adapted after taking into consideration the specific circumstance, or more specific ones based on the semi-permanent ones. The new ad hoc programs are built by "older" ad hoc programs, which are active at the given moment, after these programs identified the need for new or additional programs.

Each of the ad hoc programs contains a subprogram for monitoring each step of the execution. Parallel to the execution of the program, this subprogram is responsible for introducing minute changes needed to achieve the aims of the program. The whole process of creating and executing the ad hoc program is recorded in the memory for future reference.

Before we start any activity, or change the course of an ongoing one the appropriate activation programs and processes initiate a search in the memory for the most appropriate program. Generally, the one chosen is treated as the ad hoc execution program for the task at hand and applied almost as it is. Sometimes, the chosen program is adapted to specific needs and conditions.

Seldom - and even less common as one matures - none of the stored ones are found fit for the need in hand. In these cases, and when one is deliberately learning something, the ad hoc programs which activate the preparation processes, construct an entirely new program. For this task they use part of the plethora of programs, and routines of programs already stored in memory.

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During a meal, for instance, regular food is treated semi-automatically. A common dish with a new variation is treated a little less automatically. However, an entirely new food demands the construction of an entirely new set of programs.

The same processes apply to the programs of all other aspects and happenings of life, beginning with the most basic physiological maintenance of temperature and energy up to the most complicated ones of philosophy.

Many activation programs, especially the most complex supra-programs of behavior in social settings, include options to be decided upon according to specific circumstances. For instance, the ad hoc version of the supra- program responsible for cleaning the nose is constructed after taking into consideration the presence of others, and the ease with which one can avoid being seen.

The decisions about the program options involved in eating also need to take into consideration many specific conditions. Even during eating and before starting to swallow the chewed food of each intake, the specific circumstances must be inspected thoroughly if smooth functioning is desired.

In addition to the executable portion (subprogram) of the ad hoc activation program built for the task at hand, there is always built into it a subprogram the task of which is to control the said activity. The control components of the ad hoc programs in these two examples contain, among others: expectations about the reactions of those around (or the lack of them) with regard to cleaning the nose, and in the case of eating, about the smooth passage of the food in the Esophagus.

Afterwards, while the ad hoc program is being executed, the control component monitors its progress and results, and compares them with the expectations. If everything goes as expected, the information is entered into the suitable memory "files" together with very complimentary recommendations. If things do not go so smoothly, the controlling subprogram enters these observations in the memory together with detailed criticism.

Simultaneously, the control subprogram recruits the help of other programs in order to mend the ad hoc program while it runs, to stop it if needed, and to abandon it altogether if found irreparable. Whether successful or not, recommendations for the future are always entered into the memory files for further reference.

During the controlled activity of the ad hoc programs, and afterwards, when the relevant memory files are reviewed, the information is also used to update, mend and improve the supra-programs involved (including, of course, the emotional activation programs).

For instance, when a chunk of food gets stuck in the throat, the ad hoc operation program enters the warning that a better inspection should be made before the next swallow. If the food is of a tasty new dish not encountered before, the recommendations at the end of the meal will certainly include suggestions about the building of a special supra-program, to be applied in the future, whenever eating this food.

The program of cleaning the nose might need a more radical amelioration when one receives harsh treatment while activating it in the presence of people who are sensitive. One of the possible results may be the inclusion of a subroutine which will ban its execution altogether in the presence of others.

next: Supra Programs

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, November 4). Ad Hoc Activation Programs, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 15 from

Last Updated: July 22, 2014

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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