Cognitive development is based on research indicating that, from the time of birth, infants are aware of their surroundings and begin to actively gather, sort, and process information from around them, using the data to develop perception and thinking skills. Some of the areas that contribute to cognitive development are information processing, intelligence, reasoning, language development, and memory.
Cognitive development can be studied in a variety of ways. One way is through intelligence tests, such as the popularly known Stanford Binet Intelligence Quotient (IQ) test. The IQ test was first adopted in the US by Lewis Terman in 1916 from a method first used in France in 1905. The IQ method uses scoring that is based on the concept of "mental age", where an individual with an average intelligence will typically have a score that matches his or her age. IQ tests are widely used in the United States, but they have come under increasing scrutiny for defining intelligence too narrowly and for being consider biased on the basis of race and gender.
A leading cognitive thinker is Jean Piaget. Piaget introduced the concept the children think differently than adults. While working with children, he found himself intrigued with the reasons children gave when they answered questions incorrectly that required logical thinking. He believed that these incorrect answers revealed important differences between the thinking of adults and children. Before Piaget’s work, the common assumption was that children are simply less competent thinkers than adults. Piaget demonstrated that young children simply think in remarkably different ways than adults.
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