Sunday, June 25, 2017

Meltzoff on Piaget & the supramodal space

This prior post, and the earlier one linked therein, relate to my prior post on developmental cognitive neuroscience (DCN). Meltzoff, one of the pioneers of DCN, had this to say about Piaget:

"There has been a profound, even revolutionary, shift in our theory of developmental psychology. The revolution began with challenges to Piaget's theory of cognitive development, particularly his views of infancy. As everybody who has attended scientific conferences, read technical journals, or monitored the popular media knows, modern research has discovered that young children know more at earlier ages than had been predicted by classical theory. These new findings led to the gradual weakening, and finally the collapse of, classical Piagetian theory.

"There is now a furious search for a new framework. An analogy can be drawn to the early part of this century when classical Newtonian mechanics was overthrown and physicists were searching for a new model. In our field, we know that the classical framework of developmental psychology, which has reigned for almost 50 years, does not work; we have crucial experiments that have uncovered surprising facts; and we have great excitement in both the laboratories and in society at large, as competing views of early human development are being thrashed out."

Meltzoff relates to the earlier paper (first link above) on the supramodal space in this article. It seems the first linked paper from 2012 is a development of Meltzoff's earlier use of the supramodal space (2007).  He said:

"According to Piaget, infants begin life as asocial creatures, in a state of ‘solipsism’ or ‘radical egocentrism’, only gradually coming to apprehend the similarities between the actions of self and other. An aim of genetic psychology was to investigate how an organism starting from solipsism could develop into the mature social adult.

"In this paper, I will show that the initial state differs from this vision. The recognition of self–other equivalences is the foundation, not the outcome, of social cognition. The acts of the self and other are represented within a supramodal code. This provides infants with an interpretive framework for understanding the behavior they see. Input from social encounters is therefore more interpretable than classically supposed. Infants have a storehouse of knowledge on which to draw: They can use the self to understand the actions, goals, and psychological states of others and conversely can learn about their own powers and the possibilities and consequences of their acts by observing the behavior of others. The bedrock on which social cognition is built is the perception that others are ‘like me’."

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