Mental Retardation: The Developmental-Difference Controversy

By Edward Zigler; David Balla | Go to book overview

These contradictory findings on verbal mediation ability of retarded children also suggest that greater clarity and refinement of our notions of verbal mediation, conceptual processing, and cognition are needed. Luria viewed cognitive development as a progression from regulation by an impellant function of external speech to regulation by a significative function of internal speech. He devoted considerable attention to studying the earlier stages of speech's regulation of behavior but relatively little attention to the last stage, in which the significative function of internal speech predominates. Although Vygotsky and Luria believed that internal speech forms the basis for all types of intellectual activity in the average adult, this view has been criticized by Milgram ( 1973) and Piaget ( 1962), who believe that cognitive processing does not depend exclusively on verbal functioning.

Perhaps the most significant contribution made by Luria is the notion that verbal processing undergoes a gradual evolution during the developmental period. Unfortunately, he did not examine all the aspects of this evolution in as great detail as we might wish. It remains for others to build upon the framework laid down by Luria and reshape it as necessary. Only as this is accomplished, as we gain a greater understanding on the exact nature of verbal mediation and its relationship to cognition throughout the developmental period, can we begin to answer the question of whether the verbal processing impairment of retarded children is related only to their level of cognitive development, or whether it represents a qualitatively different disorder in cognitive functioning.


REFERENCES

Balla D., Styfco S. J., & Zigler E. "Use of the opposition concept and outerdirectedness in intellectually average, familial retarded, and organically retarded children". American Journal of Mental Deficiency, 1971, 75, 663-680.

Balla D., & Zigler E. "Discrimination and switching learning in normal, familial retarded, and organic retarded children". Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 1964, 69, 664-669.

Balla D., & Zigler E. "Personality development in retarded individuals". In N. R. Ellis (Ed.), Handbook of mental deficiency ( 2nd ed.). Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Association, 1979.

Field D. "The importance of the verbal content in the training of Piagetian conservation skills". Child Development, 1977, 48, 1583-1592.

Field D. A. Comparison of the Acquistion of Mentally Retarded and Nonretarded Children. Paper presented at the NATO International Conference on Intelligence and Learning, York, England, July 19, 1979.

Furth H. G. "The influence of language on the development of concept formation in deaf children". Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 1961, 63, 386-389.

Luria A. R. The role of speech in the regulation of normal and abnormal behavior. New York: Liveright (Pergamon Press), 1961. (a)

Luria A. R. "An objective approach to the study of the abnormal child". American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 1961, 31, 1-16. (b)

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