Handbook of Mental Deficiency: Psychological Theory and Research

By Norman R. Ellis | Go to book overview

is in behaviors which depend directly upon short-term memory. These may range from phenomena such as the digit span on an intelligence test to the solving of complex problems requiring the individual to keep in mind several aspects of the problem in order to work it out.

Finally, even though the theory does not attempt to describe long-term retention processes, it does tend to ascribe the inadequacy to the process of acquisition and to the immediate stimulus control of behavior. Thus, from the standpoint described here, long-term retention, a process seemingly closely related to the acquisition process, is viewed as "normal" in the retardate, i.e., equivalent to the process in the individual without CNS pathology. This issue, of course, deserves further attention. Perhaps the etiology of the pathology may be of importance. An individual who has had localized brain damage may have difficulty learning; but once the information is stored, presumably in undamaged tissue, we might expect the retention of the information to be adequate. On the other hand the individual with an inadequate CNS owing to genetic factors or endocrine disorder may possess an inadequate storage facility attributable to biochemical or structural characteristics. This amounts to nothing more than speculation. However it does point to meaningful questions for behavioral research involving etiological variables.

Caution should be exercised in attempted application of the findings presented here. Even though they appear germane to such situations as classroom training, the wise practitioner will await further empirical evidence. There is an appreciable gap between theory derived and tested in the laboratory and the application of the finding to the classroom, for example. In the writer's view the gap should be spanned by further research in which the real life situation is simulated more closely. Too often in an area in which the problems seem insurmountable, there is premature application of theory which leads to wasted effort and occasionally to disastrous results.

The research vistas suggested here do not require commitments to the use of st or ni, or to the acceptance of the reverberatory circuit concept. Certainly, clear evidence against the last would not damage the position which is essentially molar. As Sidman has aptly put it, "the importance of data is not affected by the sophistication of the hypothesis that may have generated the experiments" ( 1960, p. 6).


SUMMARY

A theory employing two notions, stimulus trace st and integrity of the CNS ni, has been formalized to account for differences between normal and mentally defective humans in behaviors dependent upon short-term memory. st was defined by an environmental stimulus S antecedently, and by a behavioral event B consequently. ni, defined by IQ or other indices of behavioral inadequacy, was introduced as an individual difference construct. The central problem outlined involved the establishment of the relationship between st and ni.

It was hypothesized that the duration is shortened and the intensity of st lessened in the subnormal organism, i.e., the organism with lower ni. A

-155-

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Handbook of Mental Deficiency: Psychological Theory and Research
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contributors vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xi
  • Contents xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I 9
  • 1 - Field Theory in Mental Deficiency 11
  • Introduction 11
  • References 36
  • 2 - A Social Learning Approach to Mental Retardation 41
  • Summary 86
  • References 86
  • 3 - Hull - Spence Behavior Theory and Mental Deficiency 92
  • Introduction 92
  • A Summing-Up 129
  • References 129
  • 4 - The Stimulus Trace and Behavioral Inadequacy 134
  • Summary 155
  • References 155
  • 5 - The Role of Attention in Retardate Discrimination Learning 159
  • References 220
  • 6 - Intelligence and Brain Damage 224
  • References 251
  • 7 - Genetic Aspects of Intelligent Behavior 253
  • References 291
  • 8 - The Application of Piaget's Theory to Research in Mental Deficiency 297
  • Introduction 297
  • References 323
  • 9 - Social Psychologies of Mental Deficiency 325
  • Summary 348
  • References 348
  • 10 - Psychological Studies of Mental Deficiency in the Soviet Union 353
  • Part II 389
  • 11 - Learning: Verbal, Perceptual-Motor, and Classical Conditioning 391
  • References 420
  • 12 Discrimination Learning 424
  • 12 Discrimination Learning 436
  • 13 - Problem - Solving and Conceptual Behavior 439
  • Conclusions 458
  • References 458
  • 14 - Sensory Processes and Mental Deficiency 463
  • Summary 476
  • References 476
  • 15 - Perceptual Processes 480
  • Conclusions 506
  • References 507
  • 16 - Language and Communication of Mental Defectives 512
  • Introduction 512
  • Summary and Overview 550
  • References 550
  • 17 - Psychophysiological Studies in Mental Deficiency 556
  • 17 - Psychophysiological Studies in Mental Deficiency 569
  • References 571
  • 18 - Abnormal Behavior and Mental Deficiency 574
  • Introduction 574
  • Summary and Conclusions 595
  • References 595
  • 19 - Motor Skills in Mental Deficiency 602
  • Summary 626
  • References 626
  • 20 - Research in Activity Level 632
  • Summary 657
  • References 657
  • 21 - Academic Skills 664
  • Summary 687
  • References 687
  • Contributors 691
  • Name Index 699
  • Subject Index 713
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