What are the processes, from conception to adulthood, that enable a single cell to grow into a sentient adult? They are so complex that any attempt to understand development necessitates a multi-disciplinary approach, integrating data from cognitive studies, computational modeling, and neuroimagingan approach until now seldom taken when considering child development. Neuroconstructivism is a major two-volume work that seeks to redress this balance, presenting an integrative new framework for considering development. In Volume One, the authors review up-to-date findings from neurobiology, brain imaging, child development, as well computer and robotic modeling to consider why children's thinking develops the way it does, and propose a new synthesis of development that is based on five key principles found to operate at many different levels of description. Their Neuroconstructivist framework also shows how developmental disorders, such as dyslexia, can arise from typical developmental processes operating under atypical constraints. Of central importance to Neuroconstructivism is the idea that computer and robotic models are vital tools for investigating the processes and mechanisms involved in learning and development. Volume Two illustrates the principles of Neuroconstructivist development through contributions from nine different labs across the world.
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Denis Mareschal obtained his first degree from King's College Cambridge in Natural Science with a specialisation in physics and theoretical physics. He then went on to obtain a Masters in psychology from McGill University with a thesis on the computational modelling of cognitive development. Finally, he obtained a D.Phil. in Psychology from the University of Oxford for a thesis combining neural network modelling and the experimental testing of infant-object interactions. He took up an initial lecturing position at the University of Exeter (U.K.) in 1995 and moved to Birkbeck University of London in 1998 where he has been ever since. He was made professor in 2006. Sylvain Sirois' research is mainly concerned with the mechanisms of learning and development, which he studies through a combination of neurally-inspired neural network models, robotics, and empirical studies with babies, children, adults, and the elderly. Michael Spratling received a B.Eng. degree in Engineering Science from Loughborough University, and M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Artificial Intelligence and Neural Computation from the University of Edinburgh. He has held several research positions, both in psychology and in engineering, including a postdoctoral research fellowship in the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development at Birkbeck College, University of London. He was appointed as a lecturer in the Division of Engineering at King's College London in 2004. Michael Thomas completed his D.Phil. in Experimental Psychology at University of Oxford in 1997. His principal research interests are in cognitive and language development, with a focus on developmental disorders. For more detail, see http://www.psyc.bbk.ac.uk/research/D.N.L./ Gert Westermann received his Diplom in Computer Science from the University of Braunschweig in Germany (he also spent a year at the University of Texas at Austin) and went on to do a PhD in Cognitive Science at the University of Edinburgh. Following this he worked as a researcher at the Sony Computer Science Laboratory in Paris and subsequently took up a Research Fellowship at Birkbeck College in London. He is now a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Oxford Brookes University. During 2005-2006 he is on sabbatical in the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford.Review:
"A very exciting and important book, and a significant advance in our understanding of brain and behavioral development." --Jeff Elman, Professor of Cognitive Science, University of California, San Diego
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