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This chapter traces the origins of the idea in Lev Vygotsky's thought in the early 1930s. The notion of zona blizhaishego razvitia ZBR had great promise for developmental psychology and education. For Vygotsky, the use of the ZBR concept was descriptive rather than explanatory. Vygotsky perceived the process of imitation as the mechanism of development. Vygotsky developed the idea of heterochronic emergence of different psychological functions. It is interesting that the origin of the notion of the zone of proximal development (ZPD) can be found in Henri Bergson's thinking. The ZBR-in the form of the ZPD-is assumed to exist as an entity among other psychological functions (e.g. cognitive characteristics). Its focus on the dynamic process of emergence has become translated into a static depiction of some process of teaching and learning-usually with the focus on the relevance of the "more experienced" partner in the educational interaction.
This chapter shows that Vygotsky-Luria's cultural-historical approach to neuropsychology is engaged with promises for many new discoveries that may lead to fundamental changes in our understanding of the human mind. Cultural-historical neuropsychology is an approach to studying higher psychological functions. Vygotsky-Luria's theory is based on the idea that specifically human higher psychological functions develop in the process of communication and material activity of a developing person in a socio-cultural environment. The chapter concludes that modern studies concentrate too much on single regions of the brain and/or on performance of isolated psychological tasks. Principles of systemic organization remain unrevealed by such studies. The developmental dynamics of the functional localization is even less well understood. The relation of the functional organization of the brain to the cultural environment needs to be studied.