Inference, reconceptualization, sight, and efficiency along intellectual growth: A general theory
AuthorDemetriou, Andreas P.
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This article summarizes a comprehensive theory of intellectual organization and growth. The theory specifies a common core of processes (Abstraction, representational Alignment, and Cognizance, i.e., AACog) underlying inference and meaning making. AACog develops over four reconceptualization cycles (episodic representations, representations, rule-based concepts, and principlebased concepts starting at birth, 2, 6, and 11 years, respectively) with two phases in each (production of new mental units and alignment). This sequence relates with changes in processing efficiency and working memory in overlapping cycles such that relations with efficiency are high in the production phases and relations with WM are high in the alignment phases over all cycles. Reconceptualization is self-propelled because AACog continuously generates new mental content expressed in representations of increasing inclusiveness and resolution. Each cycle culminates into insight about the cycle's representations and underlying inferential processes that is expressed into executive programs of increasing flexibility. Learning addressed to this insight accelerates the course of reconceptualization. Individual differences in intellectual growth are related to both the state of this core and its interaction with different cognitively primary domains (e.g., categorical, quantitative, spatial cognition, etc.). The relations between this theory and brain research are discussed.