Dynamic Systems Theory and Language Development

Larissa K. Samuelson & Megan Galligan

In: Encyclopedia of Language Development

Dynamic Systems Theory and Language Development

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  • Dynamic Systems Theory (DST) is a theoretical approach that focuses on the processes of change over time in complex systems. The approach has a long history in the study of physical and biological systems but has more recently been applied to motor and cognitive development and to the understanding of cognitive processes such as language. DST views behavior as emergent from the interaction of multiple, softly assembled components that are mutually influential and evolve over multiple, embedded timescales. These components span levels of the system from hormones and neurons, to the physical characteristics of the child, to aspects of the immediate context and the more distal cultural and societal contexts. In the case of language development, these components include, for example, the child's articulatory apparatus, ...

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