Toward an Explicit Model of Cognitive Development

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Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1994, Vol 39(1), 13–15. Reviews the book, Beyond Modularity: A Developmental Perspective on Cognitive Science by Annette Karmiloff-Smith (1992). In this ambitious, provocative book, Karmiloff-Smith aims to provide a synthesis of nativist and Piagetian approaches to cognitive development. Her work is in part a response to new evidence that has been widely seen to challenge traditional Piagetian accounts. For example, through the use of habituation techniques, infants have been observed to have an understanding of the numerical and physical properties of objects. They also have been shown to becapable of recalling actions and of matching information across modalities. This work contradicts the Piagetian idea that there is little or no mental representation in infancy. Thus, in place of general developmental stages, Karmiloff-Smith presents a Representational Redescription (RR) model in which development is characterized in terms of phases that occur in specific domains of knowledge. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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