Theoretical Perspectives

Several theoretical perspectives have been influential in directing research on infant perception and cognition over the past forty years. It is impossible to adequately represent any of these viewpoints in just a single chapter. Indeed, some of them require entire books to explain them adequately. Certainly Piagetian theory, Gibsonian theory, dynamical systems, and connectionist modeling fall into this category. Others are more approaches to studying infant development than they are complete theories. They make certain assumptions and predictions and use certain research techniques to investigate those predictions, but they probably do not qualify as formal theories. Nativism, cognitive neuroscience, and information processing tend to fall into this category. Brief descriptions are provided in the following sections for each of these theoretical perspectives. It should be understood that each description is merely a cursory overview. Any real understanding requires reading much more, including the references provided with each description.

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