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Learning, Development, and Conceptual Change

The Acquisition of Argument Structure

Before Steven Pinker wrote bestsellers on language and human nature, he wrote several technical monographs on language acquisition that have become classics in cognitive science. Learnability and Cognition, first published in 1989, brought together two big topics: how do children learn their mother tongue, and how does the mind represent basic categories of meaning such as space, time, causality, agency, and goals?

The Development of Scientific Reasoning

In Theory and Evidence Barbara Koslowski brings into sharp focus the ways in which the standard literature both distorts and underestimates the reasoning abilities of ordinary people. She provides the basis for a new research program on a more complete characterization of scientific reasoning, problem solving, and causality.

The Origins of Procedural Misconceptions

As children acquire arithmetic skills, they often develop "bugs" - small, local misconceptions that cause systematic errors. Mind Bugs combines a novel cognitive simulation process with careful hypothesis testing to explore how mathematics students acquire procedural skills in instructional settings, focusing in particular on these procedural misconceptions and what they reveal about the learning process.

Bridging the Language-as-Product and Language-as-Action Traditions

Recent approaches to language processing have focused either on individual cognitive processes in producing and understanding language or on social cognitive factors in interactive conversation. Although the cognitive and social approaches to language processing would seem to have little theoretical or methodological common ground, the goal of this book is to encourage the merging of these two traditions.

Integrating Connectionism and Cognitive Science

In The Algebraic Mind, Gary Marcus attempts to integrate two theories about how the mind works, one that says that the mind is a computer-like manipulator of symbols, and another that says that the mind is a large network of neurons working together in parallel.

How do children learn that the word "dog" refers not to all four-legged animals, and not just to Ralph, but to all members of a particular species? How do they learn the meanings of verbs like "think," adjectives like "good," and words for abstract entities such as "mortgage" and "story"? The acquisition of word meaning is one of the fundamental issues in the study of mind.

The Development of Spatial Representation and Reasoning

Spatial competence is a central aspect of human adaptation. To understand human cognitive functioning, we must understand how people code the locations of things, how they navigate in the world, and how they represent and mentally manipulate spatial information. Until recently three approaches have dominated thinking about spatial development. Followers of Piaget claim that infants are born without knowledge of space or a conception of permanent objects that occupy space. They develop such knowledge through experience and manipulation of their environment.

Development of Perception in Infancy

In the past twenty-five years there has been an explosion in research on the development of perception. This research has produced discoveries at multiple levels: ecological analyses of the information available for perception, models of representation and process, and improved understanding of biological mechanisms. In this comprehensive treatment of infant perception, Philip Kellman and Martha Arterberry bring together work at these multiple levels to produce a new picture of perception's origins.

Creolization, Diachrony, and Development

Research on creolization, language change, and language acquisition has been converging toward a triangulation of the constraints along which grammatical systems develop within individual speakers—and (viewed externally) across generations of speakers. The originality of this volume is in its comparison of various sorts of language development from a number of linguistic-theoretic and empirical perspectives, using data from both speech and gestural modalities and from a diversity of acquisition environments.

Words, Thoughts, and Theories articulates and defends the "theory theory" of cognitive and semantic development—the idea that infants and young children, like scientists, learn about the world by forming and revising theories, a view of the origins of knowledge and meaning that has broad implications for cognitive science.

An Essay on Autism and Theory of Mind

foreword by Leda Cosmides and John Tooby


In Mindblindness, Simon Baron-Cohen presents a model of the evolution and development of "mindreading." He argues that we mindread all the time, effortlessly, automatically, and mostly unconsciously. It is the natural way in which we interpret, predict, and participate in social behavior and communication. We ascribe mental states to people: states such as thoughts, desires, knowledge, and intentions.

Cognition, Culture, and the Child's Construction of Human Kinds


Race in the Making provides a new understanding of how people conceptualize social categories and shows why this knowledge is so readily recruited to create and maintain systems of unequal power.

A Special Code

Alvin Liberman and his colleagues at the Haskins Laboratory in New Haven created the techniques, the methods, and the insights appropriate to the study of speech perception.

In the field of psychology, beginning in the 1950s, Eleanor J. Gibson's ideas and experiments revolutionized the study of development. She nearly single-handedly developed the field of perceptual learning with a series of brilliant studies that culminated in the seminal work, Perceptual Learning and Development. More recently, Gibson has been a driving force in the profound shift from mentalistic models, or intellectual stages, toward an ecological view of development, involving function and action.

Thinking and Learning about Print

How do animals represent space, time, number and rate? From insects to humans, Charles Gallistel explores the sophisticated computations performed in these ubiquitous yet neglected domains of animal learning. He proposes new and imaginative hypotheses about brain and mental processes and provides original insights about animal behavior using a computational-representational framework that is an exciting alternative to traditional associative theories of learning.

A Developmental Perspective on Cognitive Science

Taking a stand midway between Piaget's constructivism and Fodor's nativism, Annette Karmiloff-Smith offers an exciting new theory of developmental change that embraces both approaches, showing how both are necessary to a fundamental theory of human cognition. Karmiloff-Smith shifts the focus from what cognitive science can offer the study of development to what a developmental perspective can offer cognitive science, presenting a coherent portrait of the flexibility and creativity of the human mind as it develops from infancy to middle childhood.

In Concepts, Kinds, and Cognitive Development, Frank Keil develops a coherent account of how concepts and word meanings develop in children, adding to our understanding of the representational nature of concepts and word meanings at all ages. Weaving together issues in cognitive development, philosophy, and cognitive psychology, Keil reconciles numerous theories, backed by empirical evidence from nominal-kinds studies, natural-kinds studies, and studies of fundamental categorical distinctions.

The Acquisition of Argument Structure

When children learn a language, they soon are able to make surprisingly subtle distinctions: "donate them a book" sounds odd, for example, even though "give them a book" is perfectly natural. How can this happen, given that children do not confine themselves to the sentence types they hear, and are usually not corrected when they speak ungrammatically? Steven Pinker resolves this paradox in a detailed theory of how children acquire argument structure.

Problems of Induction

Very young children are surrounded by a huge array of objects, all unfamiliar; yet by the age of three, and despite their limited information processing abilities, children are remarkably capable of categorizing objects and learning object labels. In this landmark work on early conceptual and lexical development Ellen Markman challenges the fundamental assumptions of traditional theories of language acquisition and proposes a new notion of how children acquire categories.

An Introduction to Learning Theory for Cognitive and Computer Scientists

Systems That Learn presents a mathematical framework for the study of learning in a variety of domains. It provides the basic concepts and techniques of learning theory as well as a comprehensive account of what is currently known about a variety of learning paradigms.

Are children fundamentally different kinds of thinkers than adults? Or are the cognitive differences between young children and adults merely a matter of accumulation of knowledge? In this book, Susan Carey develops an alternative to these two ways of thinking about childhood cognition, putting forth the idea of conceptual change and its relation to the development of knowledge systems.

or the Future History of the Animal Language Controversy

If we meet an extraterrestrial who keeps shouting "gavagai!", how are we to decode its meaning? Do bees and dolphins possess a linguistic competence? Did the chimpanzees Sara, Washoe, and Nim acquire a human-like language?