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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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1
Department of Psychology, 11 Seashore Hall E, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA. john-spencer@uiowa.edu

Abstract

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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