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Functionalism and Structuralism Approach to Studying Autism

1) Provide a brief description of Functionalism and structuralism research hypothesis from each perspective. Which school is most likely to endorse a qualitative method? Which is a quantitative method?

2) Autism is a diagnosis attracting a lot of attention lately in the media. Describe how a structuralist and a functionalist would study this issue. Then, describe how a clinician from each of these orientations would describe this diagnosis to a set of parents with a child who has autism.

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The functional approach to the study of the brain is based on the simple hypothesis that all states of mind exist to serve a purpose. In general, that purpose has something to do with human survival and development. How rationality and higher order thinking can develop and assist humanity in solving many problems lies at the root of functionalism. Significantly, functions are interrelated. This means that they are irreducible to components - each function relies on the others in order to work at all. This approach argues that the brain has a purpose, and this purpose is built into the functional architecture of the brain itself (Pylyshyn and Demopoulos, 1986).

On the other hand, Structuralism would not accept the functional hypothesis of teleology or irreducibility. Instead, it posited that the states of mind could be considered independently of one another. These are just sequences of brain states that we might call cognition or perception. They have no intrinsic link with each other. Speaking generally, it is the physical architecture of the brain that provides the cognitive and perceptive elements with any kind of continuity (Uttal, 2000).

Because functionalism deals with the purposes of brain development, it suggests a more qualitative approach. If one is to argue that the functions of the ...

Solution Summary

The expert examines functionalism and structuralism approach to studying Autism.