Karl Lashley

From Academic Kids

Karl S. Lashley (1890-1958) was an American behaviorist well-remembered for his influential contributions to the study of learning and memory. His failure to find a single biological locus of memory (or "engram", as he called it) suggested to him that memories were not localized to one part of the brain, but were widely distributed throughout the cortex.

Lashley began his studies in the 1920s, and centered on experiments with animals. He trained rats to perform specific tasks, then lesioned specifc areas of the cortex, either before or after it received its training. The cortical lesions had specific effects on acquisition and retention of knowledge.

By 1950, Lashley had distilled his research into two theories:

  • The theory of Equipotentiality
  • The principle of Mass Action

Notable Publications

  • 1923 "The behavioristic interpretation of consciousness." Psychological Bulletin
  • 1929 "Brain mechanisms and intelligence."
  • 1930 "Basic neural mechanisms in behavior." Psychological Review


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