Seeing the world through a third eye: Developmental systems theory looks beyond the nativist-empiricist debate

John P Spencer, Larissa K Samuelson, Mark S Blumberg, Bob McMurray, Scott R Robinson, J Bruce Tomblin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


In response to the commentaries on our paper (Spencer et al., 2009) we summarize what a developmental systems perspective offers for a twenty-first century science of development by highlighting five insights from developmental systems theory. Where applicable, the discussion is grounded in a particular example-the emergence of ocular dominance columns in early development. Ocular dominance columns are a paragon of epigenesis and are inconsistent with the nativist view. We conclude with optimism that developmental science can move beyond the nativist-empiricist debate armed with both modern technological tools and strong theory to guide their use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-105
Number of pages3
JournalChild Development Perspectives
Issue number2
Early online date15 Jul 2009
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2009


  • Keywords: developmental systems
  • nativism
  • empiricism
  • neural development
  • epigenesis

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