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Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Cognitive Development is a term, refers to the study of a child’s development in terms of information processing, conceptual ability, a skill of perception, ability of language learning and all aspects of brain and mind development in the hub of psychology. Human beings are born with the capacity to develop the ability for complex thought. It is a unique feature of humans to develop their cognitive capacity with the age. As it is said that newborn babies enter the world ready and able to extract information from their environment and thus they can immediately begin to form representation of this information. Human cognition is an active process that involves interpretation and organization of the reality of the objects and information in the world.
Cognition development involves the constant reorganization of knowledge so that new incoming information is consistent with what the learners know already. The amount of information is increased with the age when learners encounter and interact with environment. The development of thinking not just get better, faster, more efficient and effective with age, but also due to change in nature and environment.

For understanding the cognitive development, we have to see the factors that contribute to it and the way internal and external factors interact with it and children’s thinking automatically develops. We can use our knowledge of development to help the child development as best we can. For example, if a child’s reading age is below normal we can look at the environmental and biological factors that we know contribute to reading development. As we know that certain region in the brain is responsible for reading capacity, it might be damaged. We also came to know that motivation to learn and the encouragement of caregivers and access to reading materials are important factors in the development of reading abilities.

The factors that contribute to development in a particular area in the brain or mind are biologically or genetically determined, intervention in development is limited. The study of genetic syndromes can be helpful in informing our understanding of cognitive development. If a specific biological impairment can be associated with specific cognitive impairments then we have evidence to suggest that biological mechanisms have a large part to play in cognitive functioning in the impaired area. Developmental psychologists study cognitive development to understand it. If there is any biological problem in the child that makes obstacle in the way of language learning with respect of reading, speaking, comprehending and writing then the child should be consulted to Clinical Psychologists who can try to improve the cognition development for that deficiency and after some days it can be cured. Now studies that look at the effects of intervention programmes that have been developed from theories of development can provide useful feedback and inform subsequent theories and models.

There are many approaches to the Cognitive Development in the earlier time have been proposed properly, which have extremely attempted to define, observe, organize,and analyze the Cognition process specially the children and their abilities of language learning and cognitive development with a period  of time. The theorists proposed the following classic approaches below.


Behaviorism is the learning prospective and philosophy of psychology based on the proposition that all things including thinking, acting and feeling are nothing only physical behavior. Many leading and distinguished behaviorists such as I. Pavlov, J.B. Watson and B.F. Skinner traditionally argued that children are not born with any natural knowledge and rejected the concepts of the minds and claimed that humans acquire the knowledge in the world by interacting with environment and people and by stimulus-response too. Language learning is a habit formation, imitation and physical experience. Human beings are born with the “Blank slate”, and they receive input from the external environment and internalize it. This theory finds out that the development of cognition as a gradual acquisition of knowledge; the child simply perceives the input from the environment and by interacting with others.


Nativism is the learning prospective and a philosophy of psychology based on the proposition that certain abilities or skills are native or hard wired in the brain and mind at birth. Many leading and distinguished followers of this theory such as Descartes, John Lock and Chomsky believe and argue that human are born with innate abilities and capacities that are preprogrammed into the brain at birth so determine development. For many proponents of this approach, the environment of the child has little effect on the child’s cognitive development as it is therefore thought to be dictated by a biological timetable within which there is little room for maneuver; a view known as a genetic determinism.


If we see closely both the nativist and behaviourist accounts of development of cognitive, then we find that they described children as passive participants in the process of development; they are entirely either at the mercy of biology (the nativist view) or dependent on what they are taught (the behaviourist view). Neither of these is correct. According to Constructivist, proposed by Jean Piaget we now came to know that environmental and biological factors interact and the child has an active role to play in his or her own development.

It is Jean Piaget who was the first to suggest the children of different ages think in different ways. Piaget’s theory acknowledged that both innate predispositions and environmental factors have a role to play in cognitive development. Piaget believed that children’s thinking is constrained by brain development and tendencies rooted in the child’s biological make up.

It is Jean Piaget who has shown the importance and significant of both Behaviourism and Nativism theories and contributed a lot to the language learning and cognitive development in children. Piaget’s theory represents a compromise between the radical nativist and behavioursit theories and suggest that cognitive development is transactional it is the result from an interaction between environment input and knowledge and structures that are inside the child. Piaget claims that children are preprogrammed not only to learn, but also to organize their mental representations and to adapt their existing knowledge base on the basis of new information; that children actively construct knowledge.

Piaget noticed the process of development as a continuous one with new cognitive developments emerging from earlier ones. Children are born with only a very limited amount of knowledge and this knowledge is behavioural in nature and newborn infant possess only knowledge of how to do certain things such as demonstrate simple reflex behaviours in response to specific features in the environment. Many reflex behaviors are revealed by newborns, they grasp objects, suck, blink, etc. These reflex behaviours form the foundations for all subsequent knowledge acquisition. The children interact with environment and add or modify their existing knowledge base.

Piaget coined the term “schema”, refers to units of knowledge or representation and he saw development as a gradual increase in both the amount of schema. Children through this schema perceive the world. The schema of adult is completely different from the schema of the children.

The fundamental claims by Piaget that the child plays an active role in cognitive development, and the knowledge comes about as a result of an interaction between environment an biology, are genetically supported by evidence, both research an observation. Cognitive development seems to be Epigenetic, i.e. it results from developing brain systems that respond to and develop in response to environmental input. Piaget organized his description of children’s development into distinct stages, each characterized by a different way of thinking of things.


As we know that early theories of cognitive development were based on studies of children’s abilities. The theorists such as Piaget required children either to do to say something in response to a specific test question or situation. It would be better to rely on the responses so that children’s cognitive capabilities could be underestimated. This is because children might well know something but not be in a position to show this knowledge to the researcher. There are many possible reasons for this. First, the children might not have the language skills necessary either to understand the question put to them or to explain themselves. Second the children might not have the motor coordination to act on their thoughts. Finally, children might well have considerable skills in the area under study and they might know the answer but just not understand the question.

Recent technological advances have allowed us to devise new ways of looking at the cognitive abilities of children. One procedure that is often used to study the cognitive abilities of very young children is the habituation technique. From a very early age infants demonstrate the tendency to get bored by things that they have experienced before, preferring instead to attend to the new. Numerous studies have shown that with the repeated presentation of the same stimuli infants’ responses steadily decrease. Given that the ways in which very young infants can respond to stimuli are limited, researchers have to take this into consideration and look at behaviours that we know even neonates are capable of. It is assumed that babies will suck harder to see, hear or feel something that they prefer and that they would similarly spend more time looking at something that they find interesting. Habituation involves presenting infants with a stimulus until they no longer find it interesting, as indicated by a decrease in the proportion of time they spend looking at it or the amount of sucking that they do so as to be able to look at it. Once habituated to a stimulus, the infants are shown another stimulus.

Many of the more recent theories of cognitive development have made use of the advances in computer technology that have occurred over the past few decades. Information processing accounts are based on the assumption that cognition and information processing is one and the same thing; that thinking is information processing and vice versa. Information processing is said to be dependent on domain-general, biological brain structures, the most important being working and long term memory.


Neo-Piagetian theories, like information processing accounts, take a computational approach to the explanation of cognitive development and emphasis the interaction between structures and process. They also bear some resemblance to Piaget’s theory in that they suggest that development is stage like. Fischer’s (1980) and Case’s (1985) theories fall into this category. Juan Pascual Leone was the first to advance this approach. Specifically, he argued that human thought is organized in two levels. The first and more basic is defined by metal power or capacity. That is, this level involves processes that define the volume and kind of information that the individual can process. Working memory is the functional manifestation of mental power. The capacity of working memory is usually specified in reference to the number of information chunks or units that one can keep in mind simultaneously at a given moment. The second level involves mental content such as concepts and mental image.


The connectionist approach to modeling cognitive development attempts to simulate the neurological activities that give rise to cognition at a structural level. According to Plunkett (1996), connectionist models are made up of a number of information-processing units or nodes. These are organized in layers. The nodes are connected so that each one can communicate with all of the others.


I came to the conclusion that traditional approaches to the study of cognitive development such as behaviorism and nativism could not facilitate the research evidence and said that children’s cognitive development occurs in a remarkably consistent way, no two children develop in exactly the same way. Recent technological theories have allowed us to study brain function have shown us that brain development constraints cognitive development and that it is somewhat dependent on experience. There is a complex interaction between internal and external influences on the development of cognition. Given that human thought is limited in terms of the structures and procedures that are available for use when thinking, and is flexible in those different cognitive resources can be called upon indifferent situations, cognitive developmental psychologists have a difficult task ahead of them.

Oates, John, 1946, "Cognitive and language development in children"

Turner, Johanna, "Cognitive development / Johanna Turner".

PAXSON, Christina, "Cognitive development among young children in Ecuador"

Moore, Timothy E, "Cognitive development and the acquisition of language"
WATKINS,David, "Cognitive development and student approaches to learning" 


MD.ASAD said...

It is really nice one which will help the undergraduate students in doing assignments.

cognitive skills approach said...

All the main headings of the post were just too easy to understand the theory and its advantages to a person. Thanks.

MD.ASAD said...

This is my main goal and objective to make it understand as much as possible easily and clearly.... Welcome Dear..