Brain plasticity and cognitive and behavioral changes in early development:
19th century perspectives
Isabelle BARRIERE1 and Marjorie Perlman LORCH2
This paper discusses the findings which emerge from the examination of nineteenth century monographs and unpublished archives produced by prominent European and American clinicians, philosophers, neurologists and developmental psychologists. These writings demonstrate that a distinction was made between the possibilities of recovery in children and adults exhibiting behavioral and/or cognitive disorders. Secondly, they observed that the acquisition of certain cognitive abilities was easier for children than for adults (see Ball, in Kussmaul, 1881, for instance). Charcot (unpublished ms) and Ribot (1881) both evoked brain plasticity to explain these differences between adults and children when it comes to both recovery of functions and cognitive development while Ball (1881) and Baldwin (1906) evoke the interdependence of cognitive capacities.
The findings which emerge from this investigation pertain to the
research strategies applied to the study of brain maturation (Parrot,
1879) and the behavioral evidence on the basis of which a causal
relation was established between the maturation of the brain and
cognitive development. The implication of this investigation for the
conceptualizations of critical periods in development, the distinction
between (typical and atypical) children and adult populations, and the
current notion of 'modularisation' are discussed.
Baldwin, J.M. (1906) Mental development in the child and the race. 3rd
edition. New York: MacMillan.
Session II -- Poster Session
Los Angeles, California, USA