Research Topic

Understanding Trajectories and Promoting Change from Early to Complex Skills in Typical and Atypical Development: A Cross-Population Approach

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Theoretical perspectives such as embodied cognition or neuroconstructivism suggest that early perceptual, motor and communicative skills are related in development with cascading effects of one domain on multiple seemingly unrelated domains. For example, sensory and motor development has been found to ...

Theoretical perspectives such as embodied cognition or neuroconstructivism suggest that early perceptual, motor and communicative skills are related in development with cascading effects of one domain on multiple seemingly unrelated domains. For example, sensory and motor development has been found to influence cognitive skills, language, social interaction, literacy development, numeracy, and academic achievement. Dynamical systems perspectives also emphasize that development is an experience-dependent process, characterized by a complex and continuous interplay between developing individuals, their structural and functional characteristics and their social and physical environments. Early developmental risk factors may thus depend on the interplay among genetic factors (e.g., developmental disorders or genetic syndromes), biological factors (e.g., immaturity and medical complications), and environmental factors (e.g., timing and characteristics of daily experiences and contexts).

Taking such an integrative view of development raises several important questions that need to be examined. For example, although research has found some evidence of continuity between early skills and later complex skills, early identification of children at risk, their developmental trajectories, possible suboptimal outcomes, and effects on the environment need to be more deeply described across different populations. Also, the role of protective factors and early interventions involving caregivers and daily contexts that promote positive engagement, development, and better outcomes need to be more deeply investigated.

The current Research Topic will address the broad issue of the cascading effects of early motor, perceptual, communicative, and emotional skills and delays on caregiver input and on later emerging skills across multiple domains. Similarities and differences and variability of developmental trajectories within and across populations will be analyzed in order to highlight early markers of risk, potential pathways for developmental cascades initiated by early experiences and engagement, and timely customized interventions that may mediate the effects of risk conditions.

This Research Topic will focus on new research perspectives, methodologies and protocols for understanding trajectories and promoting change in typical and atypical development. The interplay between early skills and the environment and the connections between theoretical and intervention models with an interdisciplinary and cross-population approach will be addressed. These findings have important implications for clinicians and practitioners, who should take into account the specific characteristics of individual and interacting learning processes in planning interventions.

Research articles and reviews and brief research reports, mini or focused will be considered. We welcome these themes :
- Early motor, perceptual, communicative, emotional and relational skills in populations with
typical development or at heightened familial risk for developmental disorders, preterm birth,
neonatal immaturity, poor environment, or with developmental disorders or syndromes;
- Relations across domains, their effects on caregiver input and on later development in
multiple domains;
- Role of the environment (e.g., caregivers’ behaviors, contexts) and timing, characteristics and duration of interventions for promoting development and learning processes in several contexts (e.g., family, hospital, school, lab).


Keywords: Trajectories and Cascades, Relations Across Developmental Domains, Caregiver-Child Interaction, Early Interventions


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