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According to Piaget, from earliest infancy children actively build schemes as they manipulate and explore their world. By acting on the world during the sensorimotor stage, infants make strides in intentional behavior and understanding of object permanence. In the last of six substages, toddlers transfer their action-based schemes to a mental level, and representation appears. Recent research, especially in the areas of physical reasoning and problem solving, indicates that a variety of sensorimotor capacities emerge earlier than Piaget believed, raising questions about the accuracy of his account of sensorimotor development.
The information-processing approach focuses on the development of mental strategies for storing and interpreting information. With age, infants attend to more aspects of their environment and remember information over longer periods of time. Findings on infant categorization suggest that babies structure experience in adultlike ways. Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory stresses that cognitive development is socially mediated as adults help infants and toddlers master challenging tasks.
A variety of infant intelligence tests have been devised to measure individual differences in early mental development. Although most predict later performance poorly, those that emphasize recognition memory and object permanence show better predictability. Home and day care environments as well as early interventions for at-risk youngsters exert powerful influences on intellectual progress.
The rapid language development that occurs during the first 2 years is viewed very differently by behaviorist and nativist theories. Combining them, the interactionist view suggests that both innate abilities and environmental influences combine to produce children’s language achievements.

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