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Generality with specificity: the dynamic field theory generalizes across tasks and time scales

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Abstract

A central goal in cognitive and developmental science is to develop models of behavior that can generalize across both tasks and development while maintaining a commitment to detailed behavioral prediction. This paper presents tests of one such model, the Dynamic Field Theory (DFT). The DFT was originally proposed to capture delay-dependent biases in spatial recall and developmental changes in spatial recall performance. More recently, the theory was generalized to adults’ performance in a second spatial working memory task, position discrimination. Here we use the theory to predict a specific, complex developmental pattern in position discrimination. Data with 3- to 6-year-old children and adults confirm these predictions, demonstrating that the DFT achieves generality across tasks and time scales, as well as the specificity necessary to generate novel, falsifiable predictions.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-555
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental Science
Volume11
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008
Peer-reviewedYes

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