Intelligence and Learning: Specific and General Handicap

  • N. O’Connor
  • B. Hermelin
Part of the NATO Conference Series book series (NATOCS, volume 14)


It is difficult to ignore the value of normative psychometrics and the resultant concept of intelligence in the study of groups of low IQ. However, such an approach ignores the advances made through the study of cognitive processes in the subnormal. Such studies generate dynamic hypotheses which the psychometric approach does not, although the linear information flow assumptions characteristic of the latter are questionable on neuropathological grounds. In consequence we sought an alternative strategy.

The neuropsychological model is attractive but presents problems in the study of children because of the compensatory mechanisms common in a developing organism. We therefore chose our examples of “localised” injury from the “peripherally” handicapped, i.e. the congenitally blind and deaf. Such groups were compared with groups with central neuropathology such as the severely subnormal. Absence of a modality was found to lead to alternative strategies also occurred in the centrally handicapped. Comparisons are made and the reason for similarities and differences are discussed.


Autistic Child Deaf Child Specific Deficit Blind Child Deaf Subject 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. O’Connor
    • 1
  • B. Hermelin
    • 1
  1. 1.Medical Research CouncilLondonEngland

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