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Knowledge embedded in process: the self-organization of skilled noun learning


Address for correspondence: Eliana Colunga, Department of Psychology, University of Colorado, 345 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309, USA; e-mail:


Young children's skilled generalization of newly learned nouns to new instances has become the battleground for two very different approaches to cognition. This debate is a proxy for a larger dispute in cognitive science and cognitive development: cognition as rule-like amodal propositions, on the one hand, or as embodied, modal, and dynamic processes on the other. After a brief consideration of this theoretical backdrop, we turn to the specific task set before us: an overview of the Attentional Learning Account (ALA) of children's novel noun generalizations, the constrained set of experimental results to be explained, and our explanation of them. We conclude with a consideration of what all of this implies for a theory of cognitive development.