Wednesday, 5 August 2015


Distilled essence of A. R. Luriya

From time to time one sees the name of A. R Luriya and his neuropsychology invoked in respect to Conductive Education.

In 1971 A. R. Luriya wrote to the American psychiatrist Douglas Bowden –
This is very shortly my credo

This six-point credo was published in the same year, in the the Danish school-psychology journal Skolepsykologi.

Summarised further, this reads as follows –
  1. There are higher cortical (or psychological) functions specific to human being[s] and not existing in animals...
  2. The most specific features of these higher processes is that they are tool- or means-using processes. Animals do not use means, their behavior is not mediated by means, tools or signs...
  3. This indirect, means-using behavior is mediated via speech – this most important system of tools or signs in human history...
  4. The indirect tool (sign)-using behavior starts a new form of cortical work: the human cortex [becomes] a historically organized, plastic functional system where language plays a decisive organizing role...
  5. The disorganization of brain functions following local brain lesions is in no way a partial deficit,,, and no more a total lowering of the general brain activity. It results in a disorganization of functional brain systems resulting from a deficit of a basic factor (according to locus of the lesion) – bringing a series of primary symptoms and resulting in a series of secondary symptoms or functional ('systemic') results.
  6. The basic goal of neuropsychology is... a careful psychological qualification of the symptom (i.e. singling out the underlying factor, and then – a description of systemic results of the destruction or elimination of this factor); that is the real way to the neuropsychological diagnostics of brain injury.
(Emphases in original)

Read this in full at:

I also believe this. Hence my exasperation at naively 'brain'-based approaches to neuropsychology and rehabilitation.

Nestling within these points can be seen the meta-theoretical basis for one aspect of conductive pedagogy – and the roots of the relative inadequacy of other approaches to understanding and ameliorating motor disabilities, of whatever particular credos, explicit or implicit.

A little more information

By way of amplification, the journal Skolepsykologi followed this brief item by A. R Luriys with a presentation that Douglas Bowden had made to an APA Convention in New York, in 1966.


Bowden, D. M. (1971) The functional system: keystone to Luria's neuropsychology, Skolepsikologi, vol. 8, no 6, pp. 407-408

Luriya, A. R. (1971) Meta-principles in Luria's neuropsychology, Skolepsikologi, vol. 8, no 6, pp. 409-417
(Also in Danish translation: pp. 418-423)

Both items are now published together on line:

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