Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, Vol. 16, Iss. 1, January, 2012, pp. 61-78
@2012 Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology & Life Sciences


The Dynamic Matching of Neural and Cognitive Growth Cycles

Annemarie Peltzer-Karpf, University of Graz, Austria

Abstract: In recent years complex systems biology has developed detailed numerical models mimicking the establishment, modulation, and fine-tuning of neural networks. Current research within the framework of Dynamic Systems Theory (DST) emphasizes the nexus between dynamic cycles in the brain and cognitive development which unfold in a nonlinear way and allow for individual variation. Careful observations over multiple timescales and levels of organization suggest a link to system-specific developmental changes in the central nervous system with more functional specialization opening up more efficient information processing. This can be seen in spurts of EEG energy and altered cortical coherence. Data of age- and experience-related changes in synaptic density and metabolism, shifts in blood flow and improvement of (sub)cortical connections are projected on a dynamic trajectory of cognition moving from diffuse to more refined constructions in the various subsystems, each of which exhibiting its own developmental path. Pending questions are the generation of rules amidst diversity and fluctuation, and the correlation of growth rate and critical mass in developmental dynamics and interaction.

Keywords: (in-)determinism in language development, scene-segmentation, lexical and syntactic phase-transitions, modularity, chaotic itinerancy, fluctuations and stability, embodied structures