Toward a Unified Theory of Development Connectionism and Dynamic System Theory Re-Consider

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74 Citations (Scopus)


From William James to Sigmund Freud to Jean Piaget to B. F. Skinner, scholars (and parents) have wondered how children move from the blooming, buzzing confusion of infancy, through the tumult of childhood and adolescence, into adulthood. Does development occur continuously over time or in a series of dramatic stages? Is development driven by learning or by biological maturational processes? What is the nature of experience, and how does it generate change? The study of development has always been organized around these big questions. Answers to these questions have a profound influence on daily life, forming a framework for how parents think about their own children, and influencing both national policy and educational curricula. This book defines and refines two major theoretical approaches within developmental science that address the central issues of development-connectionism and dynamical systems theory. The chapters in this book provide an introduction, overview, and critical evaluation of each approach, including three sets of case studies that illustrate how these approaches have been used to study topics ranging from early motor development to the acquisition of grammar. It also presents a collection of commentaries by leading scholars, which offer a critical view from both an "outsiders" and an "insiders" perspective.

Original languageEnglish
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages416
ISBN (Electronic)9780199867165
ISBN (Print)9780195300598
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2009


  • Acquisition of grammar
  • Biology
  • Dynamical systems theory
  • Experience
  • Learning
  • Motor development
  • National policy

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