Handbook of Mental Deficiency: Psychological Theory and Research

By Norman R. Ellis | Go to book overview

seem to be that the child would continue to be dependent at later ages on the motor-touch association system in order to react to external stimuli. At an early age such a system would be viewed as normal, but at a later stage in the child's life, it would be viewed as abnormally superactive. The older child with fluent visual and verbal associations need not invoke his motortouch system as much. Again, as suggested by Gellner, the role of tactual stimulation is invoked as an explanation of superactivity.


Bindra's formulation

Bindra ( 1961) has recently attempted a formulation which is concerned with the kinds of acts which comprise general activity rather than the amount of general activity of the organism. These spontaneous acts are so pervasive and frequent that their occurrences and nonoccurrences must be considered when trying to formulate laws about the less frequent consummatory acts with which the psychologist is mostly concerned. As well as studying the relationship between stimulus conditions and the relevant responses in a situation, Bindra thinks that various factors, such as drugs, brain damage, and past learning, should be studied which affect the irrelevant responses which are competing with those that are relevant. Typically, the relevant response is already in the repertory of the organism, and learning consists in the elimination of the irrelevant responses. Bindra's term "novelty reactions," which he uses to describe the exploratory and nonexploratory behaviors which would be irrelevant in a simple maze- learning situation, reminds one of the fidgety, irrelevant kinds of behavior observed while a human subject is being measured in a ballistograph.

The formulation suggested by Bindra emphasizes that relevant versus irrelevant activity should be a major construct in analyzing the total activity matrix. Perhaps this is supported by the sometimes low correlations between different operational measures of general activity. Perhaps the correlation between activity wheel and straight alley activity is low because irrelevant and relevant activity show a different prominence in each measure. The lack of correlation between ballistographic and open-floor activity might merit a similar explanation. The relevant-irrelevant activity distinction also brings to mind the Straussian notion of impairment in ability to consider the perceived stimulus in relation to the goals of the organism. If one assumes such a condition could occur, it would seem that the probability of irrelevant behavior would be increased by neurological impairment.


SUMMARY

The study of activity level, although diversely explored, has never been a central organized focal point of attention in science. Perhaps the major reasons why it has been studied are associated with (1) the practical problems of managing superactive children, (2) its obvious role as a behavior correlate in the attempts made to understand brain function, (3) its role in the psychology of motivation and learning, (4) the recent attention to the importance of irrelevant activity, and (5) its obvious convenience in studying drug effects. The methodologies developed to measure activity

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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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