Neuropsychological Foundations of Human Personality and Luria’s Legacy

George P. Prigatano

in Luria's Legacy in the 21st Century

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780195176704
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199864706 | DOI:
Neuropsychological Foundations of Human Personality and Luria’s Legacy

Show Summary Details


Successful neuropsychological rehabilitation is in part determined by the patient’s personality, as Luria noted in his earlier writings. While Luria has presented a comprehensive theory of higher cortical functions and an approach to their assessment, he did not describe the subsystems of the brain that particularly underlie the development of human personality. He recognized the contributions of Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, and C.G. Jung, but felt that their contributions were inadequate to explain the complexities of human personality. Building on Luria’s initial ideas and the work of MacLean, a model is proposed which describes 5 brain subsystems that may underlie the development of human personality. These subsystems emphasize the importance of the early biological state of the organism and how feeling states put the infant “in motion” (Subsystem 1). Neurocircuit changes associated with feeling states further interact with neurocircuits involved in movement, memory, and learning. Early patterns of emotional and motivational responding are established (Subsystems 2 and 3). Progressively, there is an integration of feelings, movement, and memory with language or symbolic coding, which facilitates early problem-solving. Language also appears to be an important component of an early sense of “self” (Subsystem 4). Different cortical zones provide further sensory information to expand the functional activities of Subsystem 4. Clearly this subsystem interacts with the person’s temperament and patterns of emotional and motivational responding, as well as the social-cultural milieu to help form an integrated, maturing sense of self. From this fourth subsystem emerges a fifth subsystem, which represents the emergence of a higher level of consciousness that allows for a sense of self (i.e. the phenomenological state and existential situation) and the sense of others (the theory of mind). This last subsystem is most difficult to define, but plays a key role in human personality. This last subsystem may also include unconscious cognitive processes which guide behavior, and may, in part, explain the irrational as well as rational features of human beings’ thinking.

Keywords: brain subsystems and personality development; cognitive and affective functions; dynamic interaction of various neural networks

Chapter.  9152 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neuroscience

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content. subscribe or login to access all content.