Contemporary Neuropsychology and the Legacy of Luria

Contemporary Neuropsychology and the Legacy of Luria

Contemporary Neuropsychology and the Legacy of Luria

Contemporary Neuropsychology and the Legacy of Luria

Synopsis

Best known as a founding father of neuropsychology, Luria is remembered for his clinical approach, which in many ways foreshadowed and served as the basis for the currently popular "process approach" to neuropsychological diagnosis. Although he never completed the job of designing a general theory of brain- behavioral relations, he nonetheless contributed mightily to the ongoing effort to develop one, and to the emergence of neuropsychology as a mature science. Written by professionals who either knew Alexandr Romanovich Luria personally or experienced his scientific influence, the topics examined in this volume reflect the expanse of his interests and contributions.

Excerpt

For the current generation of psychologists, the title of this article may appear to be an anomaly. True, Alexandr Luria published one small volume recounting research he undertook in Central Asia in the early 1930s (Luria, 1976). However, this work is not the basis for characterizing him as a cultural psychologist. in fact, if this single venture into cross-cultural research were the sole basis for my thesis, it might appear at least an exaggeration of a minor tendency, if not an outright misrepresentation of the man who was known widely in the 1960s and 1970s for his work in neuropsychology and mental retardation.

I have chosen my theme quite deliberately and with full knowledge that during the last 35 years of his life, Alexandr Romanovich devoted most of his research energies to the study of the brain bases of behavior. I know this aspect of his work first hand; I spent the better part of the 1962-1963 academic year commuting daily to the Burdenko Institute of Neurosurgery, where I participated in the neuropsychologial research program that was occupying his attention at that time.

However, partly as a result of unforeseen events in my own career I came to know particularly well not only the research conducted in Central Asia, but the scientific projects that Alexandr Romanovich had undertaken as a young man in the heady decade following the Russian Revolution. Drawing on his writings from this early period (Luria, 1932, 1978) and his retrospective account of his intellectual journey (Luria, 1979), I want to argue that in the period between 1920 and 1930 Alexandr Romanovich formulated (in collaboration with Alexei Leontiev and Lev Vygotsky) a systematic approach to human psychological processes in which the human capacity to create and use culture was the central . . .

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