Neoconstructivism: The New Science of Cognitive Development

Hardcover | December 9, 2009

byScott Johnson

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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 thesedebates, 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 fromsimpler 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 cognitivemechanisms -- 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: Itavoids 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 learningmechanisms that guide knowledge acquisition across different domains and through development.

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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 thesedebates, however, appeared only in the last centur...

Scott P. Johnson is Professor of Developmental Psychology at the University of California at Los Angeles.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:384 pages, 6.89 × 10.12 × 0.98 inPublished:December 9, 2009Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195331052

ISBN - 13:9780195331059

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Table of Contents

Nora S. Newcombe: Foreword: What is Neoconstructivism?Scott P. Johnson: IntroductionPart I: Objects and Space1. John E. Richards: Attention in the Brain and Early Infancy2. Natasha Kirkham: All Together Now: Learning through Multiple Sources3. Scott P. Johnson: Perceptual Completion in Infancy4. M. Keith Moore and Andrew N. Meltzoff: Numerical Identity and the Development of Object PermanencePart II: Words, Language, and Music5. Morten H. Christiansen, Rick Dale, and Florencia Reali: Connectionist Explorations of Multiple-Cue Integration in Syntax Acquisition6. Linda B. Smith and Alfredo F. Pereira: Shape, Action, Symbolic Play, and Words: Overlapping Loops of Cause and Consequence in Developmental Process7. Erin E. Hannon: Musical Enculturation: How Young Listeners Construct Musical Knowledge through Perceptual ExperiencePart III: Learning Mechanisms8. David M. Sobel: Integrating Top-down and Bottom-up Approaches to Children's Causal Inference9. Jenny R. Saffran: What is Statistical Learning, and What Statistical Learning is not10. Rebecca Gomez: Processing Constraints on Learning11. Denis Mareschal and Gert Westermann: Mixing the Old with the New and the New with the Old: Combining Prior and Current Knowledge in Conceptual ChangePart IV: Induction12. David H. Rakison and Jessica B. Cicchino: The Development of Inductive Inference in Infancy13. Paul C. Quinn: The Acquisition of Expertise as a Model for the Growth of Cognitive Structure14. Vladimir M. Sloutsky: Similarity, Induction, Naming and Categorization: A Bottom-Up ApproachPart V: Foundations of Social Cognition15. Sarah Gerson and Amanda Woodward: Building Intentional Action Knowledge with One's Hands16. Francesca Simion and Irene Leo: A Neo-constructivistic Approach to the Emergence of a Face Processing SystemPart VI: The Big Picture17. Leslie B. Cohen: A Bottom-up Approach to Infant Perception and Cognition: A Summary of Evidence and Discussion of Issues

Editorial Reviews

"Drawing on neuroscience, computational models, and behavioral research methods, the contributors shed new light on how experience shapes the construction of an understanding of the world." --Jay McClelland, Stanford University