Seeing the world through a third eye: Developmental systems theory looks beyond the nativist-empiricist debate

Child Dev Perspect. 2009 Aug 1;3(2):103-105. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-8606.2009.00087.x.


In response to the commentaries on our paper (Spencer et al., 2009) we summarize what a developmental systems perspective offers for a twenty-first century science of development by highlighting five insights from developmental systems theory. Where applicable, the discussion is grounded in a particular example-the emergence of ocular dominance columns in early development. Ocular dominance columns are a paragon of epigenesis and are inconsistent with the nativist view. We conclude with optimism that developmental science can move beyond the nativist-empiricist debate armed with both modern technological tools and strong theory to guide their use.