Rethinking Innateness





Rethinking Innateness asks the question, "What does it really mean to say that a behavior is innate?" The authors describe a new framework in which interactions, occurring at all levels, give rise to emergent forms and behaviors. These outcomes often may be highly constrained and universal, yet are not themselves directly contained in the genes in any domain-specific way.

One of the key contributions of Rethinking Innateness is a taxonomy of ways in which a behavior can be innate. These include constraints at the level of representation, architecture, and timing; typically, behaviors arise through the interaction of constraints at several of these levels.The ideas are explored through dynamic models inspired by a new kind of "developmental connectionism," a marriage of connectionist models and developmental neurobiology, forming a new theoretical framework for the study of behavioral development. While relying heavily on the conceptual and computational tools provided by connectionism, Rethinking Innateness also identifies ways in which these tools need to be enriched by closer attention to biology.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262050524 468 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


$40.00 X ISBN: 9780262550307 468 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


  • This a landmark publication in developmental psychology, bringing together ideas from cognitive psychology, connectionist modelling, neurobiology and dynamical systems theory. What makes this book so unusual and effective is that it is not the usual edited collection of papers, but is co-authored by an internationally renowned group of six authors, each with a different persepctive on the problems of explaining developmental processes. To produce this book, they had to work together to forge links between very different domains, and the synthesis they achieve is remarkable for the new insights it provides into old questions about innate versus acquired sources of knowledge and the nature of cognitive development.

    Dr. Dorothy Bishop

    Senior Scientist, MRC Applied Psychology Unit

  • Rethinking Innateness is a milestone as important as the appearance ten years ago of the PDP books. More integrated in its structure, more biological in its approach, this book provides a new theoretical framework for cognition that is based on dynamics, growth, and learning. Study this book if you are interested in how minds emerge from developing brains.

    Terrence J. Sejnowski

    Professor, Salk Institute for Biological Studies