Origins of knowledge

Psychol Rev. 1992 Oct;99(4):605-32. doi: 10.1037/0033-295x.99.4.605.


Experiments with young infants provide evidence for early-developing capacities to represent physical objects and to reason about object motion. Early physical reasoning accords with 2 constraints at the center of mature physical conceptions: continuity and solidity. It fails to accord with 2 constraints that may be peripheral to mature conceptions: gravity and inertia. These experiments suggest that cognition develops concurrently with perception and action and that development leads to the enrichment of conceptions around an unchanging core. The experiments challenge claims that cognition develops on a foundation of perceptual or motor experience, that initial conceptions are inappropriate to the world, and that initial conceptions are abandoned or radically changed with the growth of knowledge.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cognition*
  • Concept Formation
  • Female
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Learning
  • Male
  • Perception
  • Research Design
  • Visual Perception*