Mechanisms of Cognitive Development
Behavioral and Neural Perspectives
Edited by James L. McClelland, Robert Siegler
Psychology Press – 2001 – 440 pages
This volume considers how children's thinking evolves during development, with a focus on the role of experience in causing change. It brings together cutting-edge research by leaders in the psychology and neurobiology of child development to examine the processes by which children learn and those that make children ready and able to learn at particular points in development.
Behavioral approaches include research on the "microgenesis" of cognitive change over short time periods (e.g., several hour-long sessions) in specific task situations. Research on cognitive change over longer time scales (months and years) is also presented, as well as research that uses computational modeling and dynamical systems approaches to understand learning and development.
Neural approaches include the study of how neuronal activity and connectivity change during acquisition of cognitive skills in children and adults. Other investigations consider the possible emergence of cognitive abilities through the maturation of brain structures and the effects of experience on the organization of functions in the brain. Developmental anomalies, such as autism and attention deficit disorder are also examined as windows on normal development.
Four questions drive the volume:
*Why do cognitive abilities emerge when they do during development?
*What are the sources of developmental and individual differences, and of developmental anomalies in learning?
*What happens in the brain when people learn?
*How can experiences be ordered and timed to optimize learning?
The answers to these questions have strong implications for how we educate children and remediate deficits that have impeded the development of thinking abilities. These implications are explored in several chapters in the volume, as well as in the commentaries by leading discussants.
"…this book provides a substantial introduction to this new synergy (and as such is well suited as complementary material for advanced courses), it also crucially highlights the necessity of specifying what we mean by cognitive development before we examine the brain in search of it."
—Infant and Child Development
"The enthusiasm of this eminent collection of authors is evident, and the book makes for a fascinating if challenging read….The editors are to be congratulated on keeping repetition between chapters to a useful minimum and representing such a broad range of work."
Contents: Preface. Part I: Studies of Microgenesis of Cognitive Change: Behavioral Approaches. S. Goldin-Meadow, Giving the Mind a Hand: The Role of Gesture in Cognitive Change. R.S. Siegler, Children's Discoveries and Brain-Damaged Patients' Rediscoveries. Neuroscience Approaches. M.M. Merzenich, Cortical Plasticity Contributing to Child Development. J.L. McClelland, Failures to Learn and Their Remediation: A Hebbian Account. R.J. Haier, PET Studies of Learning and Individual Differences. Commentary. J.W. Stigler, Breakthroughs in Using Individual Differences to Study Learning: Comments on Goldin-Meadow, Haier, McClelland, Merzenich, and Siegler. Part II: Studies of Change Over Longer Time Scales: Behavioral Approaches. E. Thelen, Dynamic Mechanisms of Change in Early Perceptual-Motor Development. R. Case, M.P. Mueller, Differentiation, Integration, and Covariance Mapping as Fundamental Processes in Cognitive and Neurological Growth. D. Kuhn, Why Development Does (and Does Not) Occur: Evidence From the Domain of Inductive Reasoning. Neuroscience Approaches. M.H. Johnson, M. de Haan, Developing Cortical Specialization for Visual-Cognitive Function: The Case of Face Recognition. H.J. Neville, D. Bavelier, Variability of Developmental Plasticity. Commentary. D. Klahr, Time Matters in Cognitive Development. Part III: Developmental Disorders: Dyslexia. A.M. Galaburda, G.D. Rosen, Neural Plasticity in Dyslexia: A Window to Mechanisms of Learning Disabilities. Attention Deficit Disorder. B.J. Casey, Disruption of Inhibitory Control in Developmental Disorders: A Mechanistic Model of Implicated Frontostriatal Circuitry. Autism. P.A. Carpenter, M.A. Just, T. Keller, V. Cherkassky, J.K. Roth, N. Minshew, Dynamic Cortical Systems Subserving Cognition: fMRI Studies With Typical and Atypical Individuals. Concluding Commentary. M.I. Posner, Education on the Human Brain: A Commentary.