Ecological Approaches to Cognition: Essays in Honor of Ulric Neisser

Ecological Approaches to Cognition: Essays in Honor of Ulric Neisser

Ecological Approaches to Cognition: Essays in Honor of Ulric Neisser

Ecological Approaches to Cognition: Essays in Honor of Ulric Neisser

Synopsis

In the context of an Emory Symposium on Cognition honoring the enormous contributions to cognitive psychology of Ulric Neisser, this book brings together ecological approaches to various aspects of cognition and its development. Well-known former students and colleagues of Neisser articulate their views on perception, memory, and culture. There is a strong developmental component, with chapters on infant perception, infant problem solving, and the cognitive profile of Williams Syndrome, as well as two chapters that consider philosophical issues related to cognitive psychology.

Excerpt

In November 1996 a conference was held at Emory University to celebrate Ulric (Dick) Neisser's career in psychology. It was a celebration as well as a reunion of Dick's students, colleagues, and many friends. Besides the talks, the weekend included parties and dinners appropriate to the occasion. This volume reflects the talks that were presented during the conference as well as contributions by Eleanor J. Gibson, Karen Adolph, Marian Eppler, and Yohtaro Takano, who were unable to attend the conference. What it may not reflect adequately is the outpouring of affection and respect we saw for an honored and distinguished scholar and teacher. In line with Dick's wishes, all of the contributors were at one time either his graduate students or colleagues at Brandeis, Cornell, or Emory, the three institutions at which he has taught.

Dick Neisser is a rare figure in modern psychology in many ways and especially for the breadth of his scholarship. His theoretical and empirical contributions to our understanding of visual search, attention, visual imagery, memory, and the self are all well known. It is no surprise, then, that this book reflects the breadth and richness, to use one of Dick's favorite words, of the field that he did so much to shape.

We will only briefly outline Dick's biography here. Born in Kiel, Germany in 1928, Dick came to the United States when he was 4 years old. His father, a professor of economics, was part of the early wave of German emigre scholars who foresaw the consequences of the rise of Fascism. Dick grew up in the Philadelphia and New York suburbs while his father taught at the University of Pennsylvania and the New School for Social Research. As an undergraduate at Harvard, Dick was a student of George Miller and carried out his senior research thesis in Miller's laboratory. After graduating summa cum laude in 1950, Dick showed his independence of mind by going to Swarthmore to study Gestalt Psychology with Wolfgang Köhler and Hans Wallach. It was clear that behaviorism, so dominant at the time, had no appeal for him. After completing the MA at Swarthmore, Dick went to study at MIT's new psychology department but found its focus . . .

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