Mathematics discloses new view in children’s cognitive development

December 11th, 2009 - 1:45 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Dec 11 (ANI): A new theory developed by Australian and Japanese researchers suggests that children as old as five can reason about the world from multiple viewpoints at the same time.

Scientists used Category Theory of mathematics to explain why specific reasoning skills develop in children at a particular age, especially at five years of age.

According to the new theory, these reasoning skills have analogous profiles of development because they involve associated types of processes.

The new theory, published December 11 in the open-access journal PLoS Computational Biology, shows that these reasoning skills have similar profiles of development because they involve related sorts of processes.

It says that five-year-old children start understanding that if if John is taller than Mary, and Mary is taller than Sue, then John is also taller than Sue - a case of Transitive Inference. They also know that there are more fruit than apples in a grocery store - what is termed as Class Inclusion.

Steven Phillips, at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST, Japan), and his team point out that both Transitive Inference and Class Inclusion develop around age five because they involve the ability to use two lines of thinking about a problem simultaneously, whereas younger children have the capability of using only one.

So far, the theory gives a good explanation of Transitive Inference, Class Inclusion and five other forms of inference: Matrix Completion, Cardinality, Card Sorting, Balance Scale, and Theory of Mind.

Further experiments may unveil its predictions about more complex levels of reasoning.

The theory has appeared in the open-access journal PLoS Computational Biology. (ANI)

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