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Child Dev. 2006 Nov-Dec;77(6):1521-38.

Moving toward a grand theory of development: in memory of Esther Thelen.

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Department of Psychology, 11 Seashore Hall E, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.


This paper is in memory of Esther Thelen, who passed away while President of the Society for Research in Child Development. A survey of Esther Thelen's career reveals a trajectory from early work on simple movements like stepping, to the study of goal-directed reaching, to work on the embodiment of cognition, and, ultimately, to a grand theory of development--dynamic systems theory. Four central concepts emerged during her career: (1) a new emphasis on time; (2) the proposal that behavior is softly assembled from the interaction of multiple subsystems; (3) the embodiment of perception, action, and cognition; and (4) a new respect for individuality. Esther Thelen communicated these ideas to scientists and practitioners alike, so the ultimate benefactors of her work were children.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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