cognitive and language development
When children acquire a first language, they build on what they know – conceptual information that discriminates and helps create categories for the objects, relations and events they experience. This provides the starting point for language from the age of 12 months on. So children first set up conceptual representations, then add linguistic representations for talking about experience. Do they then discard earlier conceptual representations in favour of linguistic ones, or do they retain them? Recent research on the coping strategies that young children (and adults) rely on when they are unable to draw on language suggest that they retain both types of representations for use as needed.
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Our studies explore how infants and children think about objects and actions in simple events, such as a bird soaring out of its nest and into a pool.
At the Cognitive and Language Development Lab, we investigate how infants and children interpret the world around them. We do not make individual assessments. Rather, we are interested in how infants and children, in general, think about the world.
Previous studies of early language and cognitive development have focused on children’s acquisition of spoken language skills and mastery of sensorimotor tasks. These studies generally have found that children reach their first steps in language production during their second year, after successful completion of most of the stages of sensorimotor development. The most widely disseminated view probably has been that advanced by Piaget (1962), Bruner (1966), and Sinclair (1971); namely that language is essentially an outgrowth of the development of the symbolic function, and that the ability to use symbols is a product of the completion of the sensorimotor period. More specifically, the capacity for mental representation, typically associated with the child’s understanding of object permanence, was seen as the primary cognitive prerequisite for the child’s acquisition of language.
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