Development of Mental Representation: Theories and Applications

Development of Mental Representation: Theories and Applications

Development of Mental Representation: Theories and Applications

Development of Mental Representation: Theories and Applications


There is a general and extensive literature in the development of representational thought and symbolic processes because of its centrality in human evolution. However, the umbrella of science and its method does not necessarily lead to a coherent conceptual model, or agreements among scholars. These basic differences among various disciplines have led to the creation of new and exciting realms of research. This book considers how representational or symbolic thought develops for children's use in a wide array of these circumstances.


Rodney R. cocking National Academy of Sciences

The cognitive (Gardner, 1985) and neuroscience revolutions (Gazzaniga, 1997) of the last decade have advanced the efforts of identifying and localizing cognitive processes. One of the enduring problems in cognitive-developmental psychology has been that of cognitive representation--in its many forms that include the entity called representations, the activities of representing, the uses of representations in learning, memory, and thinking, and the mechanisms that control the formation of representations. Developmental theory has been a fruitful source for generating hypotheses to guide research studies in this area and as a result, a vast database has been built around theoretical conceptions of representational processes (Cocking &Renninger, 1993).

Now, a third revolution in technology is expanding cognitive and neuroscience research in new directions and the databases are once again growing. Imaging technologies are enabling researchers to test theoretical conceptions of cognitive representation more precisely. At the same time, new learning technologies, especially computer and interactive technologies, are expanding the scope of developmental theory by adding new issues of representation, such as visual cognition. This volume is about the new growth, new directions, and new insights that are emerging around representation and representational thinking as a result of these three scientific revolutions.

Some of the research questions are familiar ones and some are new. the familiar ones have taken on new meaning as research and theory have converged to explain the processes of representation. At the same time, the familiar questions have shifted directions and new understandings are emerging. Indeed, because of new evidence and new methodologies, the long-standing research topic of representational thinking has moved from speculation to science. in this evolution, the science of representation has played an important role as a unifying concept across many research disciplines.

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