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1. Karl S. Lashley’s hypothesis that large areas of cerebral cortex have similar potential to perform particular functions, including learning and other complex processes (e.g., maze navigation), so that intact cortical areas may take over functions of damaged or destroyed areas. Proposed in 1929 following experimental observations of the effects of different brain lesions on rats’ ability to learn a complex maze, the concept has been challenged by subsequent research showing that areas of cortex have relatively specific functions. Brain plasticity (adaptive shifting of function) is commonly observed after local cortical damage, however. See also mass action.

2. in learning theory, the principle that any pair of stimuli can be associated with equal ease, regardless of their nature or origin. Also called law of equipotentiality; principle of equipotentiality.

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Psychology term of the day

February 27th 2024

empirically keyed test

empirically keyed test

an assessment in which answers are scored in such a way as to establish differences in responses among groups already known to differ. For example, on a test measuring problem solving, the correct alternative among the response choices would be the one preferred by members of a criterion group who were administered the test previously. See also empirical-criterion keying.