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Toward a Unified Theory of Development Connectionism and Dynamic System Theory Re-Consider$
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John Spencer

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195300598

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195300598.001.0001

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ContentsFRONT MATTER

Development as Change of System Dynamics: Stability, Instability, and Emergence

Chapter:
(p.25) CHAPTER 2 Development as Change of System Dynamics: Stability, Instability, and Emergence
Source:
Toward a Unified Theory of Development Connectionism and Dynamic System Theory Re-Consider
Author(s):

Gregor Schöner

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195300598.003.0002

Dynamical systems thinking can provide metaphors that help ask new questions, generate new experimental paradigms and measures, and lead to new kinds of explanations. This chapter reviews dynamical systems theory (DST) as a set of concepts that formalizes such metaphors and thus becomes a scientific theory of considerable rigor. It considers five concepts: (1) Behavioral patterns resist change; that is, they are stable. This may be mathematically characterized by considering behavioral patterns as the attractor states of a dynamical system. (2) Behavioral change is brought about by a loss of stability. (3) Representations possess stability properties, as well, and can be understood as the attractor states of dynamic fields, that is, of continuous distributions of neuronal activation. (4) Cognitive processes emerge from instabilities of dynamic fields. (5) Learning occurs as changes in behavioral or field dynamics that shift the behavioral and environmental context in which these instabilities occur.

Keywords:   dynamical systems theory, behavioral patterns, behavioral change, representations, cognitive process, learning

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