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Neoconstructivism: The New Science of Cognitive Development / Edition 1

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Overview

Arguments over the developmental origins of human knowledge are ancient, founded in the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, and Kant. They have also persisted long enough to become a core area of inquiry in cognitive and developmental science. Empirical contributions to these debates, however, appeared only in the last century, when Jean Piaget offered the first viable theory of knowledge acquisition that centered on the great themes discussed by Kant: object, space, time, and causality. The essence of Piaget's theory is constructivism: The building of concepts from simpler perceptual and cognitive precursors, in particular from experience gained through manual behaviors and observation.

The constructivist view was disputed by a generation of researchers dedicated to the idea of the "competent infant," endowed with knowledge (say, of permanent objects) that emerged prior to facile manual behaviors. Taking this possibility further, it has been proposed that many fundamental cognitive mechanisms — reasoning, event prediction, decision-making, hypothesis testing, and deduction — operate independently of all experience, and are, in this sense, innate. The competent-infant view has an intuitive appeal, attested to by its widespread popularity, and it enjoys a kind of parsimony: It avoids the supposed philosophical pitfall posed by having to account for novel forms of knowledge in inductive learners. But this view leaves unaddressed a vital challenge: to understand the mechanisms by which new knowledge arises.

This challenge has now been met. The neoconstructivist approach is rooted in Piaget's constructivist emphasis on developmental mechanisms, yet also reflects modern advances in our understanding of learning mechanisms, cortical development, and modeling. This book brings together, for the first time, theoretical views that embrace computational models and developmental neurobiology, and emphasize the interplay of time, experience, and cortical architecture to explain emergent knowledge, with an empirical line of research identifying a set of general-purpose sensory, perceptual, and learning mechanisms that guide knowledge acquisition across different domains and through development.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195331059
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/25/2009
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Professor of Developmental Psychology, University of California at Los Angeles

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Table of Contents

Foreword: What is Neoconstructivism?
Nora S. Newcombe

Introduction
Scott P. Johnson

I. Objects and Space

1. Attention in the Brain and Early Infancy
John E. Richards

2. All Together Now: Learning through Multiple Sources
Natasha Kirkham

3. Perceptual Completion in Infancy
Scott P. Johnson

4. Numerical Identity and the Development of Object Permanence
M. Keith Moore and Andrew N. Meltzoff

II. Words, Language, and Music

5. Connectionist Explorations of Multiple-Cue Integration in Syntax Acquisition
Morten H. Christiansen, Rick Dale, and Florencia Reali

6. Shape, Action, Symbolic Play, and Words: Overlapping Loops of Cause and Consequence in Developmental Process
Linda B. Smith and Alfredo F. Pereira

7. Musical Enculturation: How Young Listeners Construct Musical Knowledge through Perceptual Experience
Erin E. Hannon

III. Learning Mechanisms

8. Integrating Top-down and Bottom-up Approaches to Children's Causal Inference
David M. Sobel

9. What is Statistical Learning, and What Statistical Learning is not
Jenny R. Saffran

10. Processing Constraints on Learning
Rebecca Gómez

11. Mixing the Old with the New and the New with the Old: Combining Prior and Current Knowledge in Conceptual Change
Denis Mareschal and Gert Westermann

IV. Induction

12. The Development of Inductive Inference in Infancy
David H. Rakison and Jessica B. Cicchino

13. The Acquisition of Expertise as a Model for the Growth of Cognitive Structure
Paul C. Quinn

14. Similarity, Induction, Naming and Categorization: A Bottom-Up Approach
Vladimir M. Sloutsky

V. Foundations of Social Cognition

15. Building Intentional Action Knowledge with One's Hands
Sarah Gerson and Amanda Woodward

16. A Neo-constructivistic Approach to the Emergence of a Face Processing System
Francesca Simion and Irene Leo

VI. The Big Picture

17. A Bottom-up Approach to Infant Perception and Cognition: A Summary of Evidence and Discussion of Issues
Leslie B. Cohen

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