18 examples of cognitive development (2023) (2023)

18 examples of cognitive development (2023) (1)

Cognitive development is the process by which people acquire, interpret, and use information.

As the brain matures, cognitive development becomes more complex.

An example of cognitive development is the onset of language competence in children in the first 3 years of life.

In the first year of life, children begin to understand the meaning of words, to define concepts and to communicate verbally with other people.

Cognitive development continues through the mid-20s and includes increasingly complex mental processes such asAbstract Thinking, innovation and scientific thinking.

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Examples of cognitive development

  • Reflexschema (0-1 Monate):One month old prefers to look at faces. It's relaxing to see your mother's face.
  • Primary circular reactions (1-4 months):Babies start following objects as they move. You can track a ball rolling across the floor.
  • permanent object(8-24 Fun):Raj loves his toy duck that squeaks when you squeeze it, but once his dad puts it under his hat he forgets about it completely. At 24 months, he notices that the duck is still there, although he cannot see it.
  • Symbolic game (2-4 years old):Baby Sammy began using physical objects throughout the game to represent other objects. Use baby dolls and push a block pretending to be a truck.
  • Another example of symbolic play (2-4 years):Javier loves pretending the eraser on his whiteboard is a phone and pretending to talk to imaginary friends.
  • Learning to share (5+ years):Rhea is dying to use the pink crayon, but her friend uses it. So she offers her a pink highlighter instead, which her friend accepts. She seems to have turned to Kohlberg's individualism and to have shifted the lower stage in itmoral development theory.
  • Intuitive thinking (4-7 years):Around the age of 4, Jason begins to increase the number of questions he asks about the world, focusing on questions like "Why?" and why?"
  • Orientation towards obedience and discipline (up to approx. 7 years):Evelin does what her parents want because she likes the rewards and doesn't like her mother getting mad at her.
  • Overcoming Egocentricity (7+ years):Katie used to only see things from her perspective, but lately she has surprised her father with comments that show she can put herself in someone else's shoes.
  • Empathy development (more than 7 years):Maria sees her preschool friend crying. So she comes over and hugs you... and an Elsa sticker.
  • Development of inductive reasoning (7-11 years):Zoe begins to make generalizations from personal experiences. He sees a truck running a red light and decides that all trucks are bad for running a red light.
  • Concrete mathematical thinking (7-11 years):Alexander can think mathematically, but has difficulty when numbers are represented by letters in algebra.
  • Serialization (from 6 years):Theo learned to string beads in a repeating red-red-blue-green pattern to create a beautiful continuous necklace.
  • Conventional morality (more than 10 years):Harry begins to believe that people have to follow the rules or else structure and order would disappear, and in his opinion society needs structure.
  • Abstract Thinking (11+ years):Carla's mother has noticed that she makes up many hypothetical stories that have very little to do with reality.
  • Counterfactual thinking (11+ years):Jordana's father has noticed that her ability to think is improving dramatically. She often says things like, "If I had practiced the piano over the holidays, I would be pretty good now."
  • Metacognition (11+ years):Brenda has been thinking a lot about how she studies lately. He recently told his teacher that he believes he learns better by looking at things than by reading things.
  • Post-conventional morality (over 15 years):Emily began to develop a sense of political morality, frequently commenting on universal human rights and frequently criticizing her government for violating individual liberties.

theories of cognitive development

1. A theory of Piaget

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Piaget's theory is the most influential theory of cognitive development. Thetheorywas a pioneering theory promoting research into children's cognitive milestones.

Piaget's theory is a stage-based theory that proposes that children develop in a series of linear, predetermined stages throughout their lives.

The four stages of Piaget's theory

  • Sensorimotor stage (0 to 2 years):Babies develop cognitive skills such aspermanent object, purposeful action and delayed imitation(see picture below).
  • Preoperative phase (2 to 7 years):Small children developCognitive abilitieslike symbolic thinking (like the use of language andsymbolic game), but are still egocentric (meaning they can't see things from other people's perspective).
  • Concrete internship (7 – 12 years):Students develop more complexlogical thinking abilityand master the preservation ability (see image below).
  • Formal operating phase (12 to 18 years):Adolescents begin to developdeductive reasoning,metacognitive skills, abstract reasoning and complex moral reasoning.

2. Sociocultural Theory (Vygotsky and Rogoff)

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Vygotsky did not believe that cognitive development was based on stages. Rather, he believed that this was a function of his sociocultural background. This led tosociocultural theoryDevelopment.

One of the biggest criticisms of Piaget's stage-based approach is that it's too rigid. She assumes that all children develop at about the same rate.

This opens the door to some big questions. Does that mean, for example, that we shouldn't teach children? Will they learn at their own natural pace without adult help?

Vygotsky didn't think so. I thought that children arepushedthrough the cognitive development of parents, teachers and the community.

Barbara Rogoff supported Vygotsky's theory by conducting ethnographic studies outside the West and found that children develop certain physical and cognitive abilities at different rates because in their society it was more valuable to develop at a different rate.

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3. Montessori stoves

At about the same time as Piaget, Maria Montessori conceived her own stages of development. He developed his internships based on observations of children in his schools.

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According to Montessori, each stage of development includes sub-stages of developing new knowledge and consolidating knowledge.

Interestingly, like Piaget, Montessori thought that development was fairly linear and universal in children around the world.

For more information on Montessori levels, see our article on thefour development plans.

4. Kohlberg's theory

Another influential theorist is Kohlberg, who presentedstages of moral development, which we might consider part of cognition.

Kohlberg steps

  • vorkonventionelle Moral.Up to 9-10 years. Children's morale is usually related to rewards, punishments, and rewards.
  • conventional morality.From 10 years on. Children's morale develops by thinking about maintaining social structure and justice.
  • Postconventional Morality.From the age of 15. Adolescents and late adults reflect on complex moral issues that balance individual and social rights. You worry about himsocial contractand cultural universals.

Case Studies in Cognitive Development

1. Assimilation and Accommodation

These two concepts form the basis of learning.Assimilationrefers to how we process incoming stimuli based on our current understanding, orthe plan.Accommodationrefers to the process of changing our understanding or changing the schema to adapt to new information.

For example, one day while I was in the stroller with Mom and Dad, a cat ran up the sidewalk. The baby has never seen a cat, so he points to the cat and says "little dog." The children's sketch for "Dog" includes the concepts: furry animal, four legs, tail.

The child interprets the stimuli according to its existing pattern. This is assimilation.

Mom and Dad laugh and then say "cat". The child will now modify their understanding to include two schemes: one for a dog and one for a cat. This is accommodation; Modify an existing schema to accommodate new information.

After Piaget (1936)

Assimilationhe canNeverbepurely becausevonincorporateNovoelementsemesearlierSchemaintelligence all the timeEditthe last one incommandAadjustSheANovoArticle. On the contrary, thingsSohnNeverknownvonyourself, thereThat's itworkvonAccommodationesonlypossibleifa functionvonIsturning backProceedingsder Assimilation ...Emshort, intellectualAdjustment,ifany other wayFraudsistersvonput downeAssimilationmechanism andAsupplementary accommodationemprogressiveBalance"(S. 6-7).

The video above gives a brief explanation of how assimilation and accommodation work.

2. Stack blocks

(Video) Piaget's Stages of Cognitive Development

One of the first forms of cognitive development manifests itself in increased motor coordination. Babies can better control and coordinate their movements. This is called sensorimotor development.

For example, a baby who is only a few months old can hardly pick up an object and throw it. However, as we age, the muscles in our hands grow and the brain can exert more control over their movements.

Over the course of a few months, the controls will become more precise. By around 18 months, the child can perform more advanced movements such as stacking blocks or rings.

Check out the baby stacking rings in the video above. Pay attention to their coordination and consider the thought processes they engage in when considering which ring to don next.

3. Conservation Skills

An interesting milestone in cognitive development occurs around age 4. Children are beginning to understand that the size of an object is not just a function of its shape.

Suppose a very small child is hungry and says he wants two cookies. So you give them a big cookie because you know it's a big cookie and more than enough.

In the child's mind, however, it is just a cookie. They are incapable of the mental operation necessary to understand that the amount is sufficient.

However, if he breaks the biscuit in half and gives the child "both" biscuits, the child is satisfied. In their head they have two cookies.

Well, for a child who has developed conservation, their cognitive development allows them to understand that the two small cookies and the large cookie represent the same set.

4. Participate in a role play

Children have great imaginations. You can pretend a stick is anything from a sword to a horse. They love pretending that objects are really different things, and they don't mind changing the meaning of that object in the blink of an eye. That's called sham play.

Göncü and Gaskins (2012) offer a very simple definition of symbolic play:

"...the type of play in which children use one thing, such as an object or language, to serve as a 'signifier' (e.g. a stick) to convey the meaning of another entity, the 'signifier' to represent" (e.g., a horse)"(S. 48).

Very simple versions of role-playing can be seen around the age of 2. As the child matures, role play can become more complex and abstract.

Although the RPG only looks like a game, it actually serves a very valuable purpose. It helps children exercise their imaginations, organize the world they see every day and, when it affects others, teaches them conflict resolution.

5. Developing empathy

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Empathy is an interesting phenomenon. Understanding what others are feeling represents an advanced stage of cognitive development. We can see examples of empathy in very young children, around the age of two or three.

For example, if a child sees another child upset, they could go up to them and hug them or try to give them a gift to make them feel better.

This is empathy at a very rudimentary level.

Increasingly advanced forms of empathy emerge much later in childhood and involve perspective-taking. It is when a person can put themselves in another's shoes and understand their point of view.

While it sounds simple enough, there are many people who don't make it to this stage of cognitive development. They demonstrate what is known as egocentricity: mastery of their own opinions and viewpoints.

Other development domains

Developmental psychologists tend to study development in the following areas:

  • Bodily developmentThe development of fine and gross motor skills, which are the ability to control and use your body.
  • social developmentIsdevelopment of social skillshave satisfying and constructive relationships with close family members and strangers around them.
  • cognitive development -As described in this article.
  • emotional developmentThe development of a child's emotional skills, including the ability to recognise, communicate and regulate emotions.


Cognitive development is practically synonymous with brain development. In infancy, when the brain is still very underdeveloped, the baby's experiences of the world are processed through his senses.

They have very few "thoughts", so external stimuli are touched, smelled, seen and also tasted. As the brain matures, children form mental concepts for objects and experiences.

Eventually language skills develop and children can listen, speak and communicate with others. This leads to the ability to read and write while other aspects of cognitive development such as motor skills continue to thrive.


Bibace R (2013). Challenges in Piaget's Legacy.Integrative Psychology and Behavioral Sciences,47(1), 167–175.https://doi.org/10.1007/s12124-012-9208-9

Beilin, H. and Bomber, G. (1999). The basis of Piaget's theories: mental and physical action.Advances in child development and behavior,27, 221–246.https://doi.org/10.1016/s0065-2407(08)60140-8

Göncü, A. and Gaskins, S. (2012). Comparison and expansion of Piaget's and Vygotsky's understanding of the game: The symbolic game as an individual, socio-cultural and pedagogical interpretation. Stand. Nathan & A.D. Pellegrini (eds.),The Oxford Handbook of Game Development(S. 48-57). Oxford University Press.https://oi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195393002.013.0005

Müller, U. & Liben, L.S. (2015). The development ofexecutive function. En R. M. Lerner, L. S. Liben, U. Mueller, R. M. Lerner, L. S. Liben und U. Mueller (Hrsg.), Handbook of Child Psychology and Developmental Science, Cognitive Processes (S. 571-613). Somerset, Inglaterra: John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.

Orr E, Geva R (2015). symbolism and language development.Behavior and development of children, 38C, 147-161.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.infbeh.2015.01.002

Piaget, J. (1936).Origins of intelligence in children.Londres: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

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Dave Cornell (PhD)

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The doctor. Cornell has been involved in education for over 20 years. His work has included the creation of a teacher certification for Trinity College London and in-service training for US state governments. He has trained kindergarten teachers in 8 countries and helped entrepreneurs and women to open day care centers and kindergartens in 3 countries.

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Chris Drew (PhD)

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This article was peer reviewed and edited by Chris Drew (PhD). The assessment process inhelpful teacherinvolves the review, editing and contribution of articles by an expert at doctoral level. Reviewers ensure that all content reflects the scientific consensus of experts and is supported by references to scientific studies. The doctor. Drew has published over 20 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education and holds a Ph.D. in formation from the ACU.

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