Child Development

  The aim of this section is to provide a setting for the rest of the topic. This is achieved in two ways. Firstly, by historical overviews and evaluations of the debates about the nature of development, which culminate in contemporary interpretations of ontogenetic development. Secondly, by providing the rudiments of an interdisciplinary framework for […]

The concept of development: historical perspectives (child development)

  Introduction The concept of development is rooted in the biology of the individual life cycle. It encompasses the subsidiary ideas of growth, differentiation from homogeneous to heterogeneous matter, and morphogenesis (the assumption of ordered form, an idea included as part of differentiation for most of history). Development also comprises the concept of reproduction, in […]

Understanding ontogenetic development: debates about the nature of the epigenetic process (child development)

  Introduction The debates concerning individual development go back 2,500 years to the time of Aristotle in the fourth century before the present era. During his investigations of the embryo and fetus in a wide variety of species, Aristotle opened up fertilized eggs at different stages of incubation and noted that new structures appeared during […]

What is ontogenetic development? (child development)

  Introduction Take any text topic on human development and then look for whether it provides a definition of’development.’ You will probably find that such a definition is absent or that it is provided in a couple of unenlight-ening sentences. In fact, most of these text topics provide only a cursory definition of the term. […]

The challenge of interdisciplinarity: metaphors, reductionism, and the practice of interdisciplinary research (child development)

  Introduction Go to Google and type in ‘interdisciplinary’ as a search word. What do you get? In the first instance, the answer is almost 1.8 million entries or ‘hits.’ Not quite as many as for  W. Bush at almost more than 3.4 million hits or Manchester United at just 2 million, but nevertheless an […]

Neuromaturational theories (child development)

  Introduction Ontogenetic development occurs as a consequence of genetically determined structural changes in the central nervous system that can in turn give rise to orderly modifications in function. Thus, whatever the function, development conforms to an inevitable and invariable linear sequence of achievements (or milestones), with little or no assistance from the prevailing environment. […]

Constructivist theories (child development)

  Introduction Constructivism is the philosophical and scientific position that knowledge arises through a process of active construction. From this view, knowledge structures are neither innate properties of the mind nor are they passively transmitted to individuals by experience. In this entry, we outline recent advances in constructivist models of cognitive development, beginning by analyzing […]

Ethological theories (child development)

  Introduction Ethology was originally defined as the study of animal behavior within the framework put forward by Lorenz (1937) and Tinbergen (1951). Later, ‘ethology’ was used more generally to describe any scientific study of the behavior of animals in relation to their natural environment. A modern inclusive term for the discipline is behavioral biology. […]

Learning theories (child development)

  Introduction The normal human transition in cognitive ability from birth to maturity is vast and, as yet, without adequate explanation. During the last century, scientific consensus changed from a view that newborns possess virtually no knowledge of the world or of themselves to a view that they actually possess considerable innate bias that guides […]

Psychoanalytical theories (child development)

  Introduction Psychoanalytical theory is not a static body of knowledge; it is in a state of constant evolution. This was as true during Sigmund Freud’s life (1856-1939) as it has been since. Nevertheless, a core assumption of psychoanalytical theory throughout has been the so-called genetic or developmental point of view, seeing current functioning as […]