Cognitive modifiability of children with developmental disabilities: A multicentre study using Feuerstein's Instrumental Enrichment-Basic program

A. Kozulin, J. Lebeer, A. Madella-Noja, F. Gonzalez, I. Jeffrey, N. Rosenthal, M. Koslowsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


The study aimed at exploring the effectiveness of cognitive intervention with the new "Instrumental Enrichment Basic" program (IE-basic), based on Feuerstein's theory of structural cognitive modifiability that contends that a child's cognitive functioning can be significantly modified through mediated learning intervention. The IE-basic progam is aimed at enhancing domain-general cognitive functioning in a number of areas (systematic perception, self-regulation abilities, conceptual vocabulary, planning, decoding emotions and social relations) as well as transferring learnt principles to daily life domains. Participants were children with DCD, CP, intellectual impairment of genetic origin, autistic spectrum disorder, ADHD or other learning disorders, with a mental age of 5-7 years, from Canada, Chile, Belgium, Italy and Israel. Children in the experimental groups (N = 104) received 27-90 h of the program during 30-45 weeks; the comparison groups (N = 72) received general occupational and sensory-motor therapy. Analysis of the pre- to post-test gain scores demonstrated significant (p < 0.05) advantage of experimental over comparison groups in three WISC-R subtests ("Similarities", "Picture Completion", "Picture Arrangement") and Raven Coloured Matrices. Effect sizes ranged from 0.3 to 0.52. Results suggest that it is possible to improve cognitive functioning of children with developmental disability. No advantage was found for children with specific aetiology. Greater cognitive gains were demonstrated by children who received the program in an educational context where all teachers were committed to the principles of mediated learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-559
Number of pages9
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The present research was made possible through a financial support by the Mariani Foundation for Neuropediatrics, Milan, Italy. The authors would like to thank Dr. Maria Majno, director of the Mariani Foundation, for her continuing encouragement to pursue the research goals. They also would like to thank the program authors Reuven and Rafi S. Feuerstein for their theoretical insights and support. Furthermore they are particularly grateful to their co-researchers & therapists: Ann Neetens, Dany de Vooght & Katrien Bellefroid (Belgium); Alejandra Morales, Rita Arévalo, Chetty Espinoza & Cecilia Assél (Chile); Cristina Dornini & Daniela Costanzo (Italy); Marina Gonigberg, Susan Wagner, Yaya De Andrade & Kathleen Jeffrey (Canada); Niza Gavan, Monica Paz & Sari Alony (Israel); the families and children of the participating schools.


  • Children with developmental disabilities
  • Cognitive education
  • Cognitive modifiability
  • Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment Program
  • Mediated learning experience


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