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Plasticity, Constraint, Expertise and Talent


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 6
  • Convenor: Professor Fred Dick
  • Assessment: a combination of in-class quizzes, in-class timed assessments and presentations

Module description

The module provides you with an understanding of neural and psychological mechanisms underlying the development and acquisition of perceptual and cognitive skills. It will identify key theoretical issues and methodological contributions to these areas. You will integrate this new knowledge with what you have previously learned in related modules on perception, individual differences, language, and memory and cognition.

    Indicative module content

      • Contingencies in pre- and post-natal development
      • Plasticity and constraint in cortical and subcortical representations
      • Critical or sensitive periods in development and learning
      • Exceptional skills in human and non-human animals
      • Environmental and social effects on cognition and attention throughout the lifespan

        Learning objectives

        By the end of this module, you should be able to:

        • identify the general theoretical approaches that have been covered in this course
        • specify the main theories, models, concepts or methods covered in each of the lecture topics
        • critically evaluate each of the theories in relation to any rival theories citing research evidence to support or refute each idea
        • discuss the relative importance of diverse approaches to studying plasticity, expertise, talent, and learning
        • provide examples of experimental and modelling techniques used in relevant research
        • evaluate the strength of research evidence contributing to theories covered in the module
        • discuss the applicability of research (data, theories, methods, concepts) in the material covered in the module to questions in other domains such as education and society.