The Cognitive Neuroscience of Development

The Cognitive Neuroscience of Development

The Cognitive Neuroscience of Development

The Cognitive Neuroscience of Development

Synopsis

How are the experiences of childhood incorporated into the structures of the developing brain, and how do these changes in the brain influence behaviour? This is one of the many questions motivating research in the relatively new field of developmental cognitive neuroscience. This book provides an extensive overview of the methods used to study such questions, and a thorough investigation into the emerging interface between neurobiological and psychological perspectives in the study of typical and atypical cognitive behaviour. The Cognitive Neuroscience of Development is a collection of essays written by international experts in the field. It covers not only traditional topics such as language, attention and memory development, but also includes individual chapters covering the theories of neurocognitive development and methods of studying brain activity in young infants and children. There are additional chapters on hormonal influences on brain and behavioural development, gender differences in the brain, and genetic disorders. This exceptional series of contributions surveys the study of both cognitive and neural development. The book takes into account brain architecture as well as the behavioural context of development, thus it succeeds in integrating the multiple methods and domains of research that have previously been studied in a more fragmented way. It will be invaluable to upper level students as well as researchers and teachers in Psychology, Neuroscience, Cognitive Science, Paediatrics and related fields.

Excerpt

As distinct from most other areas of psychology, a complete account of developmental change requires an interdisciplinary approach. It is thus surprising that over the past few decades the study of cognitive and behavioural development has often been conducted separately from the study of the brain. The aim of this book is to provide an overview of recent research that applies an integration of neurobiological and psychological perspectives to the study of typical and atypical cognitive development.

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

The origins of developmental psychology can be traced to biologists such as Charles Darwin (1872/1965), who was one of the first to take a scientific approach to human behavioural development; and to Jean Piaget, who was originally trained as a biologist and imported theories of embryological development into his accounts of human cognitive development. Early developmental psychologists in America, such as McGraw and Gesell, tried to integrate brain development with what was known of behavioural development, focusing on motor development but also extending their conclusions to mental and social development (e.g. Gesell, 1929; McGraw, 1943). Although both McGraw and Gesell developed sophisticated informal theories about the non-linear and dynamic nature of development, their efforts to relate brain development to behavioural change remained largely speculative. At around the same time, in Europe, Lorenz and Tinbergen originated the field of ethology, and were particularly concerned with causal factors in the development of the natural behaviour of animals. Because of the more direct manipulations possible with animals, they addressed issues about the relative contribution of “innate” as opposed to “experiential” contributions to behaviour. The results of early experiments in which environmental conditions were manipulated during development led to the realization . . .

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