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The Sensation-Cognition Interface: Impact of Early Sensory Experiences on Cognition

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Early experience plays a crucial role in determining the trajectory of cognitive development. For example, early perceptual deprivation is known to induce neural reorganization by way of adaptation to the altered sensory experience. Neville and Bavelier’s “compensatory theory’’ hypothesizes that loss of one ...

Early experience plays a crucial role in determining the trajectory of cognitive development. For example, early perceptual deprivation is known to induce neural reorganization by way of adaptation to the altered sensory experience. Neville and Bavelier’s “compensatory theory’’ hypothesizes that loss of one sense may bring about a sensory enhancement in the remaining modalities. Perceptual deprivation will, however, also impact the age of emergence, or the speed of acquisition of cognitive abilities that depend upon sensory inputs.

Understanding how a child’s early environment shapes their cognition is not only of theoretical interest. It is essential for the development of early intervention programs that address not just the early deprivation itself, but also the cognitive sequel of such deprivation.

We welcome contributors to this research topic who are experts in the impact of early deprivation and altered sensory experience on the development of cognition. The articles reported here will address the ways in which early deafness and blindness influence the developmental trajectory of the cognitive skills which allow us to represent and make predictions about our multisensory world. In addition to these considerations of cross-modal plasticity from a sensory perspective, other contributors will focus on how an impoverished environment itself can reshape cognitive development. The age of the population studied will range from infancy to adulthood, the populations will have had different form of deprivation and will be assessed on their cognitive abilities. Together, these articles will help us to understand how a child’s environment and their early experience of that environment can shape the way in which it is represented internally and used to guide action.


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