A reproduction of Luria’ s expedition to Central Asia.
Background. About 40 years ago, Alexander Luria published in 1974 his world known book “On the historical development of cognitive processes”. It describes the data of an experimental study of mental functions in illiterate people living in the peripheral parts of Uzbekistan (Central Asia). A.R. Luria together with L.S. Vygotsky worked out the design of this study, performed in 1931-1933. The study proved a significant influence of social life and literacy on the structure of logical reasoning. In the conclusion to this book Luria indicates, that his colleagues often advised him to repeat this study in 40 years, but the author did not considered it reasonable, as radical changes in cultural and educational level of Asia population must equalize the differences in cognitive processes with people from central regions. Is it so?
Study design. A group of psychologists from Moscow, Belgorod and Petropavlovsk Kamchatsky performed an integrated study of endogenous populations of the north of Kamchatka peninsula living in regional centers or nomadic herdsmen in tundra. Thirty subjects (17 men and 13 females) all with primary education in Russian schools were assessed using the same tests on classification and generalization, as Luria did, together with Luria neuropsychological battery, and projective drawing on life attitudes.
Conclusion. Life values of endogenous peoples are more nature centered than in Russians from central regions. Nomadic and settled subgroups with the same level of education differed in some neuropsychological tests, revealing the influence of social life conditions. It confirms Luria’s idea about cultural determination of cognitive processes but also shows that life conditions are as important cultural factors as literacy.
Authors: Glozman, Janna M.
Keywords: cultural-historical psychology; social life; cognitive processes; life values.