Born in 1902 in Kazan (Russia), Alexander Luria is considered the father of modern neuropsychology. His research has become the basis upon which this fundamental branch of psychology is founded. According to neuropsychology, the brain is the source of the behavior. With the phrases of Alexander Luria we get closer to his autobiography and his main contributions.
Luria grew up as part of a wealthy Jewish family that gave great importance to multilingualism. He and his sister dominated German, French and English in addition to their maternal Russian. This author managed to participate in more than 300 scientific publications among which we hold Human cortical functions, Brain and psychological process, Man and his conflictual world, Cognitive development, or neuropsychology of memory.
Multicultural Education, Multidisciplinary Training
The academic history of Luria is rather curious. The outbreak of the Russian Revolution interrupted his training when he was only 7 years old. Influenced by his father, a famous professor and gastroenterologist, he entered the university to study at only 16 years old. The following sentence belongs to his autobiographical work of 1979. It is a reflection on the precocity of his interest in the mind and psychology.
"It is difficult to know the reason for my choice for psychology as a field of my immediate professional activity."Share
Luria's flexible hierarchy
Far from viewing the mind as fragmented, Luria and her teacher Lev Vygotsky considered the brain as a whole in which the associations between its parts prevailed. They even claimed that Brain functions are not isolated or immune in specific, tight areas. These ideas are radically contrary to those of other important scholars such as Paul Broca or Karl Wernicke, advocates of locating specific functions in concrete areas.
The localization-anti-location debate lasted for decades. Nowadays, we accept the merged option of the two points of view The brain functions as an inter-linked system but it is also possible to identify certain parts as being responsible for certain processes. For example, we could associate Broca's area directly with the language. Another phrase of Alexandre Luria which perfectly summarizes the passion he felt for brain function is the following:
"Talking is a miracle."Share
For this neuropsychologist, the brain is organized into 3 levels: primary, secondary and tertiary. In each level, there are regions that, through a system of neural connections, take on specific functions:
- Surveillance, primary memory and internal homeostasis : brain stem, hypothalamus, and limbic system.
- Storage and processing of information : temporal, occipital and parietal lobe.
- Mobility and behavioral programming : frontal lobe.
"Our mission is not to" locate "the higher psychological processes of Man in limited areas of the cortex but to discover, through careful analysis, the brain's work zone groups that are responsible for the execution. complex mental activity. "Share
Together, these three levels form an interconnected functional system. In him, the higher functions depend on many brain areas and work in a coordinated way.
Lesions in Neuropsychology
Unlike the physiologist, neuropsychology does not cause or cause lesions for experimental purposes. Instead of that, we take advantage of lesions that already exist in patients or those that have been produced by surgery for therapeutic purposes. A famous sentence of Alexander Luria illustrates this lack of evidence and cases:
"The responsibilities we bore and the opportunity to study a large number of patients with brain damage were impressive (…) so the years of disaster gave us a great opportunity to move forward in science."Share
The contributions of the Russian doctor do not focus only on people with acquired damage and his interest in the brain organization of mental processes. He developed one of the first lie detectors. In addition, he dedicated his first studies to the psycho-philosophy of work. He was very interested in psychoanalysis and researched human affective states for the development of "combined motor responses" methods.
"In a Siberian village, all the bears are white, your neighbor went to that village and saw a bear, what color was that bear?"Share
This syllogism was one of the most famous of this author.Alexander put it on one of his visits to an indigenous population of Central Asia. His goal was to know the existence of a universal logical reasoning. For the more curious … The response of the locals was generally, "How can I know it, why do not you ask my neighbor this?"
The brain is still an enigma
Nevertheless, as this neuropsychologist realized decades ago, the knowledge we have today of the brain is relatively weak if we compare it with what we have to discover and if we compare it with what we knew a few years ago. It is certain that we still have much to look for, although we are making progress and great progress. One of Alexander Luria's sentences that reflects this is:
"In order to progress from the appearance of the symptom (loss of a given function) to the location of the corresponding mental activity, there is still a long way to go."
Through Alexander Luria's sentences, many later authors have been able to take up his legacy and delve deeper into more concrete aspects, such as the neuropsychological foundations of reason. So, the contributions of this author were decisive for the development of neuropsychology and they allowed a better understanding of the functioning of the brain and cerebral localization.