RAN / RAS test (Rapid Automatized Naming / Rapid Alternating Stimulus) has been used successfully used by many psychologists, primarily to predict the risk of dyslexia, as it includes a language component and requires good visual-verbal connections. However, The research demonstrates that the low speed of naming is an effective indicator of neurocognitive problems of information processing as a whole (learning difficulties in general), not just reading difficulties. This can be explained in two ways: disturbance of executive mental control and the difficulties of automatization: the difficulties of the transition from a controlled energy-consuming assignment to a less energy-consuming one. The second interpretation describes the problems of energy resources of cognitive functioning. It is similar to weak maintenance of cortical structures activation. However, using the test mentioned herewith for assessing functions of activation regulation has not been described previously.
In terms of the Luria’s three functional units of the brain theory the RAN / RAS test can be considered as sensitive to the weakness of the first unit, whose function is to maintain the activity of cortical structures. So the aim of the research is to prove the possibility of assessing the activation regulation using the RAN / RAS test. This issue is relevant because neuropsychological tools for determining the weakness of Unit I functions are not quite sufficient, while the problem of “energetic” unit ranks first in the frequency of occurrence in children with learning disabilities.
In this paper we study the problem of weak processes regulating the activity in primary school children with learning disabilities. The study was conducted on children with severe learning difficulties (from 1 to 4-5 grades), and on the sample of first graders with varying success in learning. The main method was Luria’s neuropsychological assessment adapted for 5 – 9 years old children (Akhutina et al., 2008/2012; Polonskaya, 2007). It is shown that the children of both samples can be divided into three groups according to the function states that regulate the activity: children with hyperactivity-impulsivity disorder, children with fatigue and low tempo characteristics, and children without a significant deficit of the unit I functions. The close relationship of unit I functions deficit and school performance was demonstrated. It was revealed that children with hyperactivity disorder characterized by severe weakness of programming and controlling processes and visual and visual-spatial functions (with weak left analytical hemisphere and right-hemisphere which is responsible for holistic strategies of processing information). Children with sluggish cognitive tempo are characterized by less pronounced weakness in programming and controlling functions and also by prominent audioverbal and kinesthetiс difficulties (weakness of the left hemisphere which is responsible for analytical strategy of processing information). Various components of higher mental functions in children with learning disabilities show uneven age dynamics: from 1 to 4-5 grade the symptoms of fatigue, low rate and kinesthetic difficulties practically do not manifest positive dynamics in contrast to all other components of the higher mental functions.
Available Online: 12/31/2014