Cognitive Development and Cognitive Neuroscience


Human cognitive development has always been a subject of scientific interest. Currently, scholars prove that it is directly connected with the intellectual abilities of people. Cognitive neuroscience is a prominent step towards the understanding of human nature. Cognitive neuroscience employs functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to evaluate various neuron processes that occur in the brain.

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It also assists in examining children’s typical and non-typical development and the way it affects neuron processes. Also, it has been proved that literacy facilitates cognitive development. Particular stages in children’s development have peculiar characteristics in terms of cognitive development. Thus, there are sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational stages. Every stage is characterized by the improving of cognitive development and enhancing the ability for formal logical reasoning in children and adolescents.


Cognitive development investigates children’s development in various perspectives by utilizing cognitive neuroscience. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is commonly used by researchers to prove or refute various theories.

Literature Review

To deepen into the subject and base our paper on the authoritative data, we have gathered and evaluated several articles that refer to the topic. The literature review includes information from five peer-reviewed sources.

Developmental cognitive neuroscience is capable of shedding light on various aspects of human cognitive development. Munakata, Casey, and Diamond (2004) claim that the investigation of typical and non-typical child’s development allows developmental cognitive neuroscientists to uncover a lot of new information. With the help of fMRI, it becomes possible to understand neural changes that occur in the process of learning and find out how one can enhance this process.

People’s intellectual ability depends on cognitive development. Individuals can improve it in many ways. The acquirement of literacy is one of them. According to the research conducted by Dehaene et al. (2010), it improves brain responses of both children and adults. It was proved that the adults, who have a better degree of literacy, have better visual and spoken responses to the stimuli. However, the response to checkers and face images turns out to be worse.

The connection between education and cognitive development also interested Bobby Ojose (2008). His idea is that the development of children is stable and gradual. It occurs through several specific stages, which are formed based on one another so that the omission of at least one stage makes the process impossible to be accomplished. Such results were derived from the similar idea of Jean Piaget (1972).

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He believed that the development of intellectual structures is gradual and can be divided into separate stages, which are stable. This approach can be shown to the public, as the mental development of gifted and non-gifted children does not differ if they are of the same age. However, the capacity of working memory is to be considered as it limits children’s development (Okamoto, Curtis, Jabagchourian, & Weckbacher, 2006). All articles under consideration provide a profound analysis of cognitive development and should be compared accordingly.

Body of the Paper

Cognitive Neuroscience

Munakata et al. (2004) conducted their research aimed at giving answers to general issues about cognitive development within the framework of cognitive neuroscience. Functional magnetic resonance imaging has been utilized to provide profound evidence related to the topic. Thus, the researchers could investigate the way neural activity in the mature brain differed from the neural processes in the immature brain. For instance, they exemplify that the ability of infants to imitate starts from mirror neurons that are also found in monkeys.

Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development

Jean Piaget (1972) focuses on issues of cognitive development in a particular age group in comparison to Munakata et al. The author identifies several stages of cognitive development. The first phase (sensorimotor) occurs until the child acquires language. From childhood and until 7-8 years, children develop symbolic thinking (pre-operational stage). Between 7 and 11 years, more logical thinking is developed due to the learning of various classification systems and coherent structures (concrete operational). Until the age of 14-15, the formal reasoning process improves (formal operational). The child can comprehend the situation with the help of deductive thinking. Nevertheless, the cognitive processes still differ from adults’ ones.

Cortical Development

This concept is based on previous findings. Cortical development is said to influence cognitive outcomes. Children who suffer from cortical dysplasia face more difficulties with studying and have a lower IQ than those who are healthy. Still, the level of the cortical organization can be increased, for instance, by improving literacy skills (Klein, Levin, Duchowny, & Llabre, 2000). Literacy enhances brain activity in several ways. First, it facilitates the development of visual cortices. Besides, it leads to increasing communicative skills.


Cognitive neuroscience is used to evaluate the changes in cognitive processes in children during different periods of their development. Thus, there are peculiarities of thinking in infants, children in primary school, and adolescents. Numerous types of researches have been conducted to examine the nature of cognitive development and other factors that influence it.


Dehaene, S., Pegado, F., Braga, L. W., Ventura, P., Nunes , G., Jobert, A.,…Cohen, L. (2010). How learning to read changes the cortical networks for vision and language. Science, 330(6009), 1359–1364. Web.

Klein, B., Levin, B., Duchowny, M., & Llabre, M. (2000). Cognitive outcome of children with epilepsy and malformations of cortical development. Neurology, 55(2), 230-235.

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Munakata, Y., Casey, B. J., & Diamond, A. (2004). Developmental cognitive neuroscience: progress and potential. TRENDS in Cognitive Sciences, 8(3), 122-128. Web.

Ojose, B. (2008). Applying Piaget’s theory of cognitive development to mathematics instruction. Mathematics Educator, 18(1), 26-30. Web.

Okamoto, Y., Curtis, R., Jabagchourian, J. J., & Weckbacher, L. M. (2006). Mathematical precocity in young children: a neo-Piagetian perspective. High Ability Studies, 17(2), 183-202. Web.

Piaget, J. (1972). Intellectual evolution from adolescence to adulthood. Human Development, 15, 1-12. Web.

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