Computational Developmental Psychology

Computational Developmental Psychology

By Thomas R. Shultz

An overview of the emerging discipline of computational developmental psychology, emphasizing the use of constructivist neural networks.

A Bradford Book





An overview of the emerging discipline of computational developmental psychology, emphasizing the use of constructivist neural networks.

Despite decades of scientific research, the core issues of child development remain too complex to be explained by traditional verbal theories. These issues include structure and transition, representation and processing, innate and experiential determinants of development, stages of development, the purpose and end of development, and the relation between knowledge and learning. In this book Thomas Shultz shows how computational modeling can be used to capture these complex phenomena, and in so doing he lays the foundation for a new subfield of developmental psychology, computational developmental psychology.

A principal approach in developmental thinking is the constructivist one. Constructivism is the Piagetian view that the child builds new cognitive structures by using current mental structures to understand new events. In this book Shultz features constructivist models employing networks that grow as well as learn. This allows models to implement synaptogenesis and neurogenesis in a way that allows qualitative changes in processing mechanisms. The book's appendices provide additional background on the mathematical concepts used, and a companion Web site contains easy-to-use computational packages.


$45.00 X ISBN: 9780262194839 338 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 63 illus.


$35.00 X ISBN: 9780262529150 338 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 63 illus.


  • A manifesto for a more scientific approach to cognitive development in which the focus is firmly on the mechanisms of change. Packed with detailed examples, this book is essential reading for advanced students and researchers in cognitive development, and will be of interest to cognitive scientists more generally.

    Mark H. Johnson

    Director, Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, University of London

  • In the past, the few connectionist models of child development have focused heavily on language development. What makes Tom Shultz's book unique is the wide range of child development topics it covers, in addition to language development. The book takes us from a primer on connectionism to a chapter devoted to future directions of connectionist modeling in child development. Since the connectionist approach is only beginning to make significant inroads in the field, Shultz has included a chapter specifically devoted to the application of its principles to modeling child development. This book is an essential contribution to the field.

    Robert M. French

    Quantitative Psychology and Cognitive Science, University of Liege, Belgium

  • This book—by one of the founders of the field of computational developmental psychology—provides a comprehensive and thorough overview of the field, as well as an articulate and persuasive statement of Shultz's own approach. Both beginning students and advanced researchers will find it stimulating, informative, and thought-provoking.

    Jeff Elman

    Professor of Cognitive Science, University of California, San Diego