Cognitive Development

Cognition all forms of knowing and awareness, such as perceiving, conceiving, remembering, reasoning, judging, imagining, and problem solving. Cognitive development means the growth and maturation of thinking processes of all kinds, including perceiving, remembering, concept formation, problem solving, imagining, and reasoning.

The cognitive development during the first years of life, after considering how learning takes place, we examine memory in infants. The ways in which infants process, store, and retrieve information.

The cognitive skill permits infants to communicate with others. Although, the roots of language in pre-linguistic speech, trace the milestones. It indicates the development of language skills in the progression from baby’s first words to phrases and sentences.

Piaget believed that the basic building blocks of the way we understand the world are mental structures called schemes i.e. organized patterns of functioning that adapt and change with mental development. At first, schemes are related to physical, or sensorimotor, activity. Schemes quickly become more sophisticated as infants become more advanced in their motor capabilities. To Piaget, a signal of the potential for more advanced cognitive development.

In Piaget’s theory, two processes, adaptation and organization, account for changes in schemes.



The next time you have a chance, notice how infants and toddlers tirelessly repeat actions that lead to interesting effects. Adaptation involves building schemes through direct interaction with the environment. It consists of two complementary activities, assimilation and accommodation.

During assimilation, we use our current schemes to interpret the external world. For example, when Timmy dropped objects, he was assimilating them to his sensorimotor “dropping scheme.” In accommodation, we create new schemes or adjust old ones after noticing that our current ways of thinking do not capture the environment completely. When Timmy dropped objects in different ways, he modified his dropping scheme to take account of the varied properties of objects

According to Piaget, the balance between assimilation and accommodation varies over time. When children are not changing much, they assimilate more than they accommodate—a steady, comfortable state that Piaget called cognitive equilibrium. During times of rapid cognitive change, children are in a state of disequilibrium, or cognitive discomfort.


Schemes also change through organization. It is a process that occurs internally, apart from direct contact with the environment. Once children form new schemes, they rearrange them, linking them with other schemes to create a strongly interconnected cognitive system. For example, eventually Timmy will relate “dropping” to “throwing” and to his developing understanding of “nearness” and “farness.”

According to Piaget, schemes truly reach equilibrium when they become part of a broad network of structures that can be jointly applied to the surrounding world (Piaget, 1936/1952).

Piaget’s approach to cognitive development

As infants develop cognitively, they experience changes in their understanding about what can and cannot occur in the world.

The sensorimotor stage, the initial major stage. And can be divided into six substages. It is important to keep in mind that although the specific substages of the sensorimotor period may at first appear to unfold with great regularity As though infants reach a particular age and smoothly proceed into the next substage, The reality of cognitive development is somewhat different. First, the ages at which infants actually reach a particular stage vary a good deal among different children.

However, infants do not suddenly shift from one stage to the next. Cognitive  development proceeds not in stages but in “waves”. Flow of cognitive approaches that children use to understand the world. . Consequently, although Piaget contended that the order of the substages does not change from one child to the next, he admitted that the timing can and does vary to some degree.

One day children may use one form of cognitive strategy. While another day they may choose a less advanced strategy-moving back and forth over a period of time. Although, one strategy may be used most frequently at a given age, children still may have access to alternative ways of thinking.

Moreover, cognitive growth is characterized by increasing sophistication, speed, and capacity in processing information.


The information processing perspective on cognitive development during infancy is very different from Piaget’s. Rather than focusing on broad explanations of the qualitative changes that occur in infants’ capabilities. The information processing looks at quantitative change.

Because information processing researchers consider cognitive development in terms of a collection of individual skills. They are able to use more precise measures of cognitive ability, such as processing speed and memory recall, than proponents of Piaget’s approach.

To read about how to accelerate infant’s cognitive development, click here.


  1. Robert. S. Feldman. (2017). Development Across the Lifespan. (8th ed.). Pearson Education.
  2. Laura. E. Berk. (2018). Development Through the Lifespan (7th ed.). Pearson Education.

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