A human brain being measured  with a measuring tape. Human Intelligence

Human Intelligence: Historical influences, current controversies, teaching resources.

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Jagannath Prasad (J.P.) Das

Canadian Psychologist

(January 20, 1931-)



  • Uktal University, Cuttack, India (BA in Psychology/Philosophy with Honors, 1951)
  • Patna University, Patna India (MA in Psychology, 1953)
  • Institute of Psychiatry, University of London (Ph.D. in Psychology, 1957)


  • Lecturer in Psychology, Ravenshaw College, Uktal University, India  (1953-1955)
  • Research Scholar in Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, University of London (1955-1957)
  • Reader in Psychology, Uktal University, India (1958-1963)
  • Kennedy Professor of Psychology, George Peabody College for Teachers, Nashville, TN (1963-1964)
  • Visiting Associate Professor in Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles (1964-1965)
  • Reader in Psychology, Uktal University, India (1965-1967)
  • Founding Editor, Indian Journal of Mental Retardation (1966)
  • Research Professor, Centre for the Study of Mental Retardation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada (named Developmental Disabilities Centre in 1987)  (1968-1971)
  • Director, Developmental Disabilities Centre (named J.P. Das Developmental Disabilities Centre in 1996) and Professor of Educational Psychology, University of Alberta (1972-1994)
  • Professor of Educational Psychology, University of Alberta (1994-1996); Professor Emeritus, 1996-present
  • Numerous awards, including: Kennedy Foundation Professorship (1963), Nuffield Fellow (1972), Albert J. Harris Award, International Reading Association (1979), Research Prize, University of Alberta (1987), Canadian Immigration Achievement Award (1992), Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (FRSC) (1999)

Definition of Intelligence

“…Intelligence is the sum total of all cognitive processes.  It entails planning, coding of information and attention, as well as arousal (personal communication, 2004).”

 Major Contributions

  • Co-Author of the Planning-Attention-Simultaneous-Successive (PASS) theory of cognitive processing (1975; 1994) 
  • 11 books in English, 4 books in Oriya (an Indian language), 2 books in Spanish, 2 books in Finnish, 1 book in Chinese, and over 200 research papers and book chapters

 Interview with Dr. Das (with video clips)

Click here to see the interview transcript and video clips.

 Ideas and Interests

Jagannath Prasad (J.P.) Das is a truly international scholar, having held academic appointments in India, Australia, Great Britain, Russia, the United States and Canada.  His professional life has focused on redefining human intelligence by providing an empirically-supported and clinically useful alternative to g-based theories of cognitive ability. 

One popular theory of human intelligence holds that human intellectual functioning is best conceptualized as a single unitary quality that underlies all cognitive processes.  The presence of this general factor (g) is supported by the statistical technique called factor analysis, and this approach provides the foundation for much of the research profiled on this site.  The Planning, Attention-Arousal, Simultaneous and Successive (PASS) model of processing, first proposed in 1975 by Das, Kirby, and Jarman (and later elaborated by Das, Naglieri & Kirby, 1994 and Das, Kar & Parrila, 1996) challenges g-theory on the grounds that neuropsychological research has consistently demonstrated that the brain is made up of interdependent, but separate, functional systems. Neuroimaging studies and clinical studies of individuals with brain lesions make it clear that the brain is modularized; for example, damage to a very specific area of the left temporal lobe will impair the production (but not the comprehension) of spoken and written language. Damage to an adjacent area will have the opposite impact, preserving the individual’s ability to produce, but not understand, speech and text. 

Based on A.R. Luria’s (1966) seminal work on the modularization of brain function, and supported by decades of neuroimaging research, the PASS theory divides intelligence into four interrelated cognitive processes:

  1. Planning:  This is the ability to make decisions about how to solve problems and perform actions.  It involves setting goals, anticipating consequences and using feedback.  Planning also involves the attention-arousal, simultaneous and successive processing functions described below, and is associated with the frontal lobes of the brain.
  2. Attention-Arousal:  This involves the ability to selectively attend to stimuli while ignoring other distractions.  Individuals with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) have impairments in this area. The arousal functions are generally associated with the brain stem and thalamus, whereas the higher attentional processes are thought to be related to the planning functions of the frontal lobe. 
  3. Simultaneous Processing: This involves the ability to integrate separate stimuli into a cohesive, interrelated whole.  Simultaneous processing is necessary for language comprehension, as in:  “Who is the person in the following statement:  My mother’s father was his only son (Naglieri & Das, 1997)?”  The occipital and parietal lobes are thought to be important for these functions.
  4. Successive Processing:  This involves the ability to integrate stimuli into a sequential order. An example of this process is the sequencing of letters and words in reading and writing. This type of processing is believed to be related to frontal-temporal lobe functioning (Das, 2002).

According to the PASS theory, information first arrives at the senses from external and internal sources, at which point the four cognitive processes activate to analyze its meaning within the context of the individual’s knowledge base (e.g. semantic and episodic knowledge, implicit and procedural memories, and so on).  Thus, the same information can be processed multiple ways (Das, 2002).

The PASS theory provides the theoretical framework for a measurement instrument called the Naglieri-Das Cognitive Assessment System (CAS), published in 1997.  This test is designed to provide a nuanced assessment of the individual’s intellectual functioning, providing information about cognitive strengths and weaknesses in each of the four processes. This emphasis on processes (rather than abilities) makes it useful for differential diagnosis; unlike traditional full-scale IQ tests, the CAS is capable of diagnosing learning disabilities and Attention Deficit Disorder. It has been normed for use with children and adolescents from age 5 to 17. 

One unusual property of the PASS theory of cognitive processes is that it has proven useful for both intellectual assessment (e.g. the CAS) and educational intervention. For example, the PASS theory provides the theoretical framework for the PASS Reading Enhancement Programme (PREP), a remediation curriculum designed to improve the planning, attention and information processing strategies that underlie reading (Das, 1999). A similar curriculum has been developed to help students with arithmetic difficulties. 

Selected Publications

Das, J. P. (2002).  A better look at intelligence.  Current Directions In Psychological Science, 11(1), 28-33.

Das, J. P., Kar, B. C., & Parrila, R. K. (1996).  Cognitive planning.  Thousand Oaks, CA:  Sage.

Das, J. P., Kirby, J. R., & Jarman, R. F. (1975).  Simultaneous and successive syntheses:  An alternative model for cognitive abilities.  Psychological Bulletin, 82, 87-103.

Das, J. P., Kirby, J. R., & Jarman, R. F. (1979).  Simultaneous and successive cognitive processes. New York:  Academic Press.

Das, J. P., Naglieri, J. A., & Kirby, J. R. (1994).  Assessment of cognitive processes.  Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Naglieri, J. A., & Das, J. P. (1988).  Planning-Arousal-Simultaneous-Successive (PASS):  A Model for Assessment.  Journal of School Psychology, 26, 35-48).


Das, J. P. (1999).  PREP:  PASS Reading Enhancement Program.  Deal NJ:  Sarka Educational Resources.

Das, J. P. (2002).  A better look at intelligence.  Current Directions In Psychological Science, 11(1), 28-33.

Das, J. P., Kirby, J. R., & Jarman, R. F. (1975).  Simultaneous and successive syntheses:  An alternative model for cognitive abilities.  Psychological Bulletin, 82, 87-103.

Das, J. P., & Naglieri, J. A. (1997).  Naglieri-Das Cognitive Assessment System.  Chicago:  Riverside.

Luria, A. R. (1966).  Human brain and psychological processes.  New York:  Harper and Row.

Naglieri, J. A., & Das, J. P. (1997).  The PASS cognitive processing theory. In R.F. Dillon (Ed.). Handbook on testing (pp.138-163).  London:  Greenwood Press.

Image courtesy of J.P. Das

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