Cognitive, Neurophysiological and Evolutionary Theories

Cognitive, Neurophysiological and Evolutionary Theories






Cognitive, Neurophysiological and Evolutionary Theories

            The cognitive theory was formulated by Jean Piaget. It is quite a comprehensive theory about the development and nature of the human intelligence. It also has the name, the development stage theory. The theory deals with the actual development of human beings, the nature of knowledge and how the human species came to acquire it, mould it, and then make use of it. The idea of cognitive development as formulated by Piaget dominates the human intelligence and the organisms as a whole and how they communicate (Wilson & Keil, 2011). This means that language depends on the cognitive development. The process, according to Piaget has six stages or steps.

The Neurophysiological and Evolutionary theories were formulated by Donald O. Hebb. He was also responsible for many other theories like the theory of restricted environments, cell assemblies, enriched environments, sensory deprivation and phase sequences. All these theories are interconnected and flow from one another. The Neurophysiological and Evolutionary theories were formulated as a conclusion to the theories. Hebb stated that the sensory information was not only necessary to create proper neurophysiological development but also to help in the maintenance of the normal functioning of the body (Scher & Rauscher, 2003). He stated that when a living organism was sensorily deprived, a severe disorientation occurs in their cognitive nature. Hebb had the belief that the environment directly affected the mental and physiological processes of the human being, which in turn affected the human being’s behavior and learning.

The Cognitive, Neurophysiological and Evolutionary theories can be applied in modern-day practices like learning theories that are placed in categories of paradigms. These schools of thought or paradigms are based on different views that are shared by scientists and that provide frameworks for research. The first paradigm, the cognitive theory is referred to as so since theorists emphasize on the cognitive nature of the learning process. The neurophysiological paradigm is believed to attempt to isolate the relationship between the physiological and mental processes such as perception, learning, intelligence and thinking. The evolutionary theory is termed so since the theorists attempt to explain the learning process that is based on the evolutionary history of an organism (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2005).

The process of learning is believed to have the development of expectancies involved. These expectancies are the events that an organism like the human learns that certain events lead to others and so on. How an organism reacts naturally in a situation may possibly make it quite difficult to learn any new responses. Here the evolutionary history of the organism becomes important since it is important in the understanding or learning. Moreover, organisms are required to learn certain behaviors that are scheduled for them and not learn others that depend on their preference. This is the main criteria in determining whether the organism can adapt to its environment or not.

Though the theorists in the process of learning in the three paradigms have attempted to explain learning and the processes involved in it, there still are many unanswered questions. Some of these questions include the ways in which learning affects maturity and how learning differs in different species. If further research were carried out, such questions would be answered according to the need to discover the various outcomes that would be achieved.






Hergenhahn, B. R. & Olson, M. H. (2005). An introduction to theories of learning. Carrollton, TX: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Scher, S. J., & Rauscher, F. (2003). Evolutionary psychology: alternative approaches. New York, NY: Springer.

Wilson, R. A., & Keil, F. C. (2011). The MIT encyclopedia of the cognitive sciences. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.


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