Cognitive Development: The Learning Brain, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Cognitive Development

The Learning Brain, 1st Edition

By Usha Goswami

Psychology Press

480 pages | 148 Color Illus. | 3 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9781841695310
pub: 2007-12-21
Hardback: 9781841695303
pub: 2007-12-21

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Cognitive Development: The Learning Brain is a thoroughly revised and updated edition of the bestselling Cognition in Children. This full-color textbook has been re-written from the perspective of brain science and shows how new discoveries in cognitive neuroscience force us to reconsider traditional theories of cognitive development. Goswami considers the established base of cognitive developmental psychology and demonstrates how new data from brain science require a new theoretical framework based on learning. This book presents a new paradigm for teaching cognitive development, going beyond Piaget to learning and the brain.

Conceptualizing cognitive development around three core domains of human knowledge – naïve physics, naïve biology and naïve psychology – the book considers the learning mechanisms available to the infant brain. Each chapter explores how these mechanisms affect different aspects of cognitive development. Starting with the development of these foundational domains in infancy, Goswami goes on to consider social cognition, language acquisition, causal learning and explanation-based reasoning, and theory of mind. Later chapters explore memory, reasoning, metacognition, executive functions, reading and numbers. The final chapter analyzes the contribution of more traditional theoretical perspectives (Piaget and Vygotsky), linking these to connectionism and neuroconstructivism. The intimate links between language acquisition and symbolic systems, cognitive development and social/cultural learning form the core of the book.

This valuable textbook is essential reading for teachers and students of developmental and cognitive psychology, as well as education, language and the learning sciences. It will also be of interest to anyone training to work with infants and children.

Cognitive Development: The Learning Brain is supported by online Student and Instructor Resources, access to which is free of charge to adopters of the book and their students.


"This volume is a tour de force. Goswami effortlessly interweaves contemporary research and theory on cognitive development with cutting edge work in both developmental neuroscience and cognitive psychology. The result is a lucid, accessible and always stimulating treatment of the field of cognitive development, which will be of great use to students and researchers alike. A superb piece of scholarship, this volume is also an excellent choice for advanced undergraduate and graduate level courses in developmental psychology." - Jeffrey J. Lockman, Professor of Psychology, Tulane University, New Orleans, USA

"In this forward looking and up-to-date book, Usha Goswami brings together major theories, concepts, and findings from neural and behavioral approaches to cognitive development. Many authors pay lip service to this goal, but Goswami succeeds in integrating behavioral and neural approaches to a greater extent than any other textbook I have seen." - Robert S. Siegler, Teresa Heinz Professor of Cognitive Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University, USA

"The study of cognitive development has recently been transformed by new interchange with cognitive science, neuroscience, computer modeling, and studies of nonhuman animals. Conveying this situation to students is challenging. Usha Goswami has provided a valuable and thorough account of cognitive development as informed by both emerging and classic perspectives." - Nora S. Newcombe, Professor of Psychology, Temple University, USA

"The book is both scholarly and exciting in the way it inter-weaves the most cutting edge research in cognitive neuroscience and connectionism with the traditional theories of Piaget and Vygotsky. It presents a clear and contemporary introduction to the field that will interest and inform both student and expert alike." - Mark H. Johnson, Director of the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, University of London, UK

"This is a splendid book, providing an excellent and scholarly coverage of contemporary research in cognitive development. It is written by a leading authority, and its readable style makes it an invaluable resource for undergraduates who need to access up-to-date thinking in this field." - Martyn Barrett, Department of Psychology, University of Surrey, UK

Table of Contents

Foreword. 1. Infancy: The Physical World 1. Memory. Perception and attention. The perceptual structure of the visual world. Cognitive neuroscience and object processing in infancy. Links between measures of early learning, memory, perception, and attention and later intelligence. Summary. 2. Infancy: The Physical World 2. Perceptual structure and conceptual analyses. Reasoning and problem solving about the physical world. Learning. What babies can't do: Cognitive neuroscience and apparent gaps in physical knowledge. Summary. 3. Infancy: The Psychological World. The central role of the actions of other agents. Goal-directed action and the attribution of mental states. Actions by infants. The understanding of false belief. Insights from social cognitive neuroscience. Summary. 4. Conceptual Development and the Biological World. Superordinate, "basic-level", and subordinate categories. The role of language in conceptual development. The biological/nonbiological distinction. The representation of categorical knowledge: A historical perspective Categories and beliefs about the world: "Essences" and naive theories. Conceptual change in childhood? Summary. 5. Language Acquisition. Phonological development. Lexical development. Grammatical development. Pragmatic development. Summary. 6. The Central Role of Causal Reasoning. Reasoning about causes and effects. Reasoning on the basis of causal principles. Causal Bayes nets. The understanding of causal chains. Scientific reasoning. Multivariable causal inferences. Biases and misconceptions in causal reasoning. Summary. 7. Social Cognition, Mental Representation and Theory of Mind. The role of language and discourse in metarepresentational development. Summary. 8. The Development of Memory. Early memory development. The development of recognition memory. The development of episodic memory. The development of eye-witness memory. The development of working memory. The development of strategies for remembering. Insights from cognitive neuroscience. Summary. 9. Metacognition, Reasoning and Executive Functions. Metamemory. Metacognition and executive function. Metacognition and reasoning. Summary. 10. Reading and Mathematical Development. Reading development. Mathematical development. Summary. 11. Theories of Cognitive Development: Piaget, Vygotsky, Connectionism and the Future. Piaget's theory. Vygotsky's theory. Cognitive neuroscience: towards a new theoretical framework. References. Index

About the Author

Usha Goswami is Professor of Education at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge. She is also Director of the Faculty’s Centre for Neuroscience in Education. Prior to moving back to Cambridge in 2003, she was Professor of Cognitive Developmental Psychology at the Institute of Child Health, University College London 1997 - 2003, and before that, she was University Lecturer in Experimental Psychology at the University of Cambridge, 1990-1997.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Cognitive Psychology
PSYCHOLOGY / Developmental / General