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Connectionist models of development

Authors

  • Yuko Munakata,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA
      Address for correspondence: Yuko Munakata, Department of Psychology, 345 UCB, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309-0345, USA; e-mail: munakata@psych.colorado.edu or James L. McClelland, Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, 115 Mellon Institute, 4400 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA; e-mail: mcclelland+@cmu.edu
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  • James L. McClelland

    Corresponding author
    1. Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, Mellon Institute, Pittsburgh, USA
      Address for correspondence: Yuko Munakata, Department of Psychology, 345 UCB, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309-0345, USA; e-mail: munakata@psych.colorado.edu or James L. McClelland, Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, 115 Mellon Institute, 4400 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA; e-mail: mcclelland+@cmu.edu
    Search for more papers by this author

Address for correspondence: Yuko Munakata, Department of Psychology, 345 UCB, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309-0345, USA; e-mail: munakata@psych.colorado.edu or James L. McClelland, Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, 115 Mellon Institute, 4400 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA; e-mail: mcclelland+@cmu.edu

Abstract

How have connectionist models informed the study of development? This paper considers three contributions from specific models. First, connectionist models have proven useful for exploring nonlinear dynamics and emergent properties, and their role in nonlinear developmental trajectories, critical periods and developmental disorders. Second, connectionist models have informed the study of the representations that lead to behavioral dissociations. Third, connectionist models have provided insight into neural mechanisms, and why different brain regions are specialized for different functions. Connectionist and dynamic systems approaches to development have differed, with connectionist approaches focused on learning processes and representations in cognitive tasks, and dynamic systems approaches focused on mathematical characterizations of physical elements of the system and their interactions with the environment. The two approaches also share much in common, such as their emphasis on continuous, nonlinear processes and their broad application to a range of behaviors.

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