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The 7 best sentences of Alexander Luria, the Russian neuropsychologist

The 7 best sentences of Alexander Luria, the Russian neuropsychologist

May 29, 2024

Alexander Luria (1902 - 1977), whose official name is transcribed as Aleksandr Románovich Lúriya, was the pioneer of modern neuropsychology.

Born in Kazan, Russia, before the Russian Revolution, he developed various studies and investigations that have formed the basis for this subdiscipline within psychology, in which the brain is the architect that originates the behavior.

In this article we have set out to make a collection of phrases by Alexander Luria that will allow us to know better their contributions and their theories.

  • Recommended article: "Alexander Luria: biography of the pioneer of neuropsychology"

Famous quotes from Alexander Luria

Born into a family of Jewish origin, Luria spoke German, French, English and Russian fluently. A disciple of Lev Vygotsky and a personal friend of Sigmund Freud, Alexander Luria shared his scientific contributions in more than 350 publications.


Without further delay, we will know his famous quotes together with a brief contextualization of each of them.

1. It is difficult to know the reason for my choice for psychology as the terrain of my immediate professional activity.

The academic career of Alexander Luria is somewhat strange. Contextualizing, it must be understood that the Russian Revolution happened just at a decisive moment of its formation, at the tender age of 7 years. He entered the university with only 15 years to study Psychology.

The phrase number 1 corresponds to his autobiographical book "Looking back", written in the year 1979. It is an opinion about his genuine interest in mental mechanisms.


2. The responsibilities we had and the opportunity to study a large number of patients with brain injuries were impressive. Thus, the years of disaster gave us the greatest opportunity to advance science.

In this sentence, Alexander Luria talks about neuropsychology in people with lesions in the brain. The branch of neuropsychology does not have as a means to cause certain injuries to evaluate the effects, but simply studies existing cases of people who have undergone certain reparative surgeries.

3. In a certain Siberian village, all bears are white. Your neighbor went to that town and saw a bear. What color was the bear?

The syllogism of phrase number three became especially popular in his day. Luria described this logical fallacy in one of his trips to visit an indigenous village in central Asia. I wanted to discover if there was a kind of logical reasoning that was used in all cultures and societies. Interestingly, the most common response among the members of that town was: "I do not know, why do not you ask my neighbor?"


Although Luria is widely known for his research and discoveries in patients with acquired brain damage and for the location in the brain of certain mental functions, it is also important to know that he was one of the pioneers in the design of lie detectors. And although he was a great scholar of psychophysiology, he also inquired about psychoanalysis and about human emotions in search of methods of "supplemented motor responses".

4. Talking is a miracle.

A phrase by Alexander Luria in which he shows us his deep interest and admiration for mental processes. Luria conceives the brain as a holistic entity and, like his teacher Lev Vygotsky, I try to find out the brain functions that, in association with others, form the fundamental basis of thought. This approach clashes with the postulates of other prestigious academics at the time, such as Karl Wernicke or Paul Broca, who were followers of the idea that certain specific regions of the brain corresponded to certain motor and cognitive functions.

This controversy between supporters of localizationism and anti-localization remained for much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. At present, most academics agree that there is a middle ground between both positions: our brain functions as a system of interrelations, although it is also possible to detect some regions that are responsible for specific mental processes (for example, the Broca's area is especially linked to the production of language).

The same Alexander Luria proposed a theory on the organization in three levels of the brain: primary, secondary and tertiary. According to his approach, each brain area, through a complex network of neuronal connections, is responsible for specific mental functions:

  • Waking state, primary memory and internal homeostasis: brainstem, hypothalamus and limbic system.
  • Processing and storage of information: temporal lobe, occipital lobe and parietal lobe.
  • Motor capacity and behavioral programming: frontal lobe.

5. Our mission is not to "locate" man's superior psychological processes in limited areas of the cortex, but to find out, by careful analysis, which groups of concerted work areas of the brain are responsible for the execution of complex mental activity.

Always following Luria, these three levels constitute a functional system that interrelate. The superior type functions involve different brain regions and are carried out in a coordinated manner.

6. The knowledge that we have today of the brain is relatively small if we compare it with what we still have to discover and very large if we compare it with what we knew only a few years ago.

The Russian neuropsychologist was right to comment, in one of his books, that research on mental and brain processes is still very recent, and congratulated for the numerous knowledge that was being achieved in his time. The previous sentence by Alexander Luria is a good example of this.

7. In order to progress from the establishment of the symptom (loss of a given function) to the location of the corresponding mental activity, there is still a long way to go.

The work of Alexander Luria has been key to the time that the scientific community deepened in the investigation of the neuropsychological bases of human consciousness. His important discoveries in the field of neuropsychology have resulted in a scientific field of special interest for mental health professionals.


2017 Maps of Meaning 8: Neuropsychology of Symbolic Representation (May 2024).


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