Publication 5856

Mareschal D. & Shultz T. R. (1996) Generative connectionist networks and constructivist cognitive development. Cognitive Development 11(4): 571–603.
This article presents a novel computational framework for modeling cognitive development. The new modeling paradigm provides a language with which to compare and contrast radically different facets of children’s knowledge. Concepts from the study of machine learning are used to explore the power of connectionist networks that construct their own architectures during learning. These so-called generative algorithms are shown to escape from Fodor’s (1980) critique of Constructivist development. We describe one generative connectionist algorithm (cascade-correlation) in detail. We report on the successful use of the algorithm to model cognitive development on balance scale phenomena; seriation; the integration of velocity, time, and distance cues; prediction of effect sizes from magnitudes of causal potencies and effect resistances; and the acquisition of English personal pronouns. The article demonstrates that computer models are invaluable for illuminating otherwise obscure discussions.
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