Cognitive Development

Cognitive is knowing. The term cognition is used to mean a kind of knowing that is more definite, more certain, and more lasting than immediate sense perception. Some-times it is used to mean the parts of dimensions of knowing that can be distinguished from emotion. Sometimes it seems to include the entire breadth of mental life.

An Online Early Childhood Education defines “Cognition as a general term covering all the various modes of knowing perceiving remembering, imagining, conceiving, reasoning”. Cognition might be described as the process by which the brain registers and files all the information.

Piaget regards cognition as a form of a biological adaptation the organisms constant effort to bring about a harmonious interaction between his own schemata and the outer world. It is a “system of living and acting operations” that strives for equilibration, or a balancing between what the individual knows and what he perceives in the world.

Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development

Most influential theory of cognitive development in recent years is proposed by Jean Piaget a Swiss Psychologist. He has been studying the cognitive development of children for more than last fifty years. According to Piaget, there are four recognizable stages of cognitive development.

  1. Sensorimotor Period (birth to 24 months)
  2. Pre-operational Representation Period (11 to 6 years)
  3. Concrete operational period (7 to 11 years)
  4. Cognitive Thought (12 to 15 years)



Sensorimotor Stage

Piaget describes the cognitive processes of infants as sensorimotor intelligence, for until an individual is about two years old, he concentrates on regularizing his sensations and controlling his motor activity. There are six stages in the period of sensorimotor intelligence, the last of them ending around the child’s second birthday. Cognitive development in the sensorimotor period as a gradual and continuous process, but the order of six stages is always the same. Each stage occurs in proper sequence and is a necessary preparation for the next. No child, however, is a “Pure” example of one stage or another, one aspect of the infant’s behaviour normally advances faster than another.

Reflex stage

The human infant is born with certain seensorimotor reflexes, such as orienting reactions to sound and light, crying and thrashing about in response to any loud noise, sudden bright light, or abrupt movement.

The Stage of Cognitive Thought or Formal Operations

This stage includes period from 12 to 15 years. Now the youngster acquires the ability to think and reason beyond his own immediate world. He applies formal logic to solve his problems, and approaches them more systematically. He comes to acquire ideas of social justice and proper modes of social interaction.

In addition to the system of deducing consequences from a variety of alternative hypotheses, the child can assimilate and combine information from a variety of sources. Rather than evaluating single factors in solving a problem, as the concrete operational child does, the child at this stage is able to consider combinations of factors and simultaneous interactions of factors which will affect the solution.

It is in this flexibility, mental hypothesis testing and appreciation of the many possibilities in a situation, as well as in the awareness of the complexity of problems, that the adolescent differs from the concrete operational child.