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    Modelling individual variability in cognitive development

    Thomas, Michael S.C. and Richardson, Fiona M. and Forrester, Neil A. and Baughman, Frank D. (2010) Modelling individual variability in cognitive development. Connection Science , ISSN 0954-0091. (Submitted)

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    Abstract

    Investigating variability in reasoning tasks can provide insights into key issues in the study of cognitive development. These include the mechanisms that underlie developmental transitions, and the distinction between individual differences and developmental disorders. We explored the mechanistic basis of variability in two connectionist models of cognitive development, a model of the Piagetian balance scale task (McClelland, 1989) and a model of the Piagetian conservation task (Shultz, 1998). For the balance scale task, we began with a simple feed-forward connectionist model and training patterns based on McClelland (1989). We investigated computational parameters, problem encodings, and training environments that contributed to variability in development, both across groups and within individuals. We report on the parameters that affect the complexity of reasoning and the nature of ‘rule’ transitions exhibited by networks learning to reason about balance scale problems. For the conservation task, we took the task structure and problem encoding of Shultz (1998) as our base model. We examined the computational parameters, problem encodings, and training environments that contributed to variability in development, in particular examining the parameters that affected the emergence of abstraction. We relate the findings to existing cognitive theories on the causes of individual differences in development.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: Author's note: "Under revision, please do not cite without permission".
    School: Birkbeck Schools and Departments > School of Science > Psychological Sciences
    Research Centre: Educational Neuroscience, Centre for, Birkbeck Knowledge Lab, Brain and Cognitive Development, Centre for (CBCD)
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2010 09:39
    Last Modified: 09 Dec 2016 11:15
    URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/2876

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