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Therefore, Vygotsky stressed that tools including linguistic signs are produced and culturally conventionalized Arievitch and Stetsenko, Moreover, human cognition develops on the basis of extracerebral connections. We believe it is important to understand the difference between this specific conceptualization of the role of language in the development of the mind and a more general notion that humans learn from their social environment. It was important for Vygotsky to study his research subjects without isolating them from their cultural-developmental context Toulmin, Originally, Vygotsky believed that thought and speech performed different functions and evolved relatively independently.

He mentions a defined pre-speech phase in the development of intelligence and pre-intellectual phase in the development of speech. He saw similarities in how groups of young children or higher animals communicate without speech symbols and signs : expressive movements, gestures, facial expressions, etc. However, he emphasized that ways of thinking not associated with speech exist.

Since at that stage, thought and speech begin to intertwine. Vygotsky observed that this stage is characterized by the rapid increase in the communicative vocabulary of the child. A child first discovers the symbolic function of language, understands the meaning of generalization as a means of communication, and begins to use it for communication and problem solving.

As Toomela b stresses, such an understanding of sign interiorization brings new potential to different research. Tomasello argues that human-specific psychological abilities develop in human infants due largely to the specificity of a cooperative social environment Moll and Tomasello, Carpendale and Lewis , Racine and Carpendale , and Nelson argue from a constructivist perspective that the social environment, including a communicative one, actively shapes the mind.

Shared routines that are structured, embodied, and rich in meaning provide a foundation for creating shared meaning, knowledge, and feelings. Such an approach suggests that a child experiences the environment as cultural and semantic from the very onset of life. As Arievitch and Stetsenko point out, such a view of development is still unorthodox in modern psychology. However, it is a viable approach, if conceptualized through constructivist relations and is in line with Vygotskian thinking. As Vygotsky articulated the importance of societal context for education and possible implications for his theory in education, the second principle has been recognized in various disciplines, namely educational research.

Vygotsky argued that learning is a step ahead, enduring the further development. While completing a challenging task with the help of a teacher or peers, a child develops and learns. The role of the teacher, therefore, is to sustain this interaction and not simply relay decontextualized knowledge. We believe this is a promising expansion of current work in the psychology of learning and classroom research Moll, , ; John-Steiner and Mahn, ; Tudge and Scrimsher, ; Wells and Claxton, Since Vygotsky was interested in how social medium shapes the cultural values of an individual, his theory is being applied in intercultural language studies.

Human cultural and linguistic development, Vygotsky writes, passes two stages — first social and then psychological or individual. This transition inwards has its structure and function, as language and culture become internal and fossilized. In addition, from this perspective, culture is seen as an aggregate of both material and spiritual values manifested in human behavior. While interlocutors might share the code, their use of this code could vary significantly. The underlying source of miscommunication is often the difference in styles of speech and patterns of behavior fossilized in communicants, which interlocutors might be unaware of.

Vygotsky called attention to the fact that communication between two individuals is in itself a communication of consciousness that occurs in the mind of a carrier of a particular culture and seeks to comprehend the symbols of a different culture.

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Vygotsky proposes two lines of development in a child — a natural line and a cultural one. Such a distinction reflects a conceptual question that transcends psychological science throughout time: the extent to which biology and environment contribute to the development of the mind.


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Nativism and mainstream cognitivism have been criticized sometimes explicitly for separating these lines of development. Followers of alternative perspectives such as constructivism and Developmental Systems Theory e. Rather, the human mind is constructed by active involvement in the environment in which it develops. Gottlieb describes development as processes interacting at different levels, from cellular to social.

The Ontogeny of Information: Developmental Systems and Evolution (Science and Cultural Theory)

Development in this case becomes probabilistic, and any observed patterns can be explained by similarities in developmental contexts rather than hardwired, genetically determined programs. Variations in an environment and its relationship to an individual organism affect the formation of mind structures. In such a framework, there is no one-on-one relation between an organism and environment. The same environment can be different for a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old, as they perceive it differently on an individual level and through different psychological mechanisms.

We believe Vygotskian approach can be applied to DST framework, and an excellent example of such application was developed by Stetsenko Furthermore, modern neuroscience is often associated with the question of whether an understanding of human brain is sufficient to fully understand the human mind. The answer to this question for many contemporary researchers e.

But in this case, we cannot understand the development of the human mind as it develops during constant interactions between the brain and environment.


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The results of multiple studies convincingly demonstrate that particular experiences with environment are reflected in brain processing, e. Importantly, since human environment is a cultural one, an ecologically valid neuropsychology should incorporate disciplines such as anthropology and semiotics, as these disciplines explain the cultural regularities and cultural environment that the human brain reacts during development Toomela, b. The discipline of cultural neuroscience Chiao, specifically focuses on the relationship between brain development and culture.

It investigates differences in the brain processes of participants with varied cultural backgrounds Han and Humphreys, We believe that the Vygotskian tradition in cultural-historical neuropsychology is in line with recent developments in brain research. A human mind, according to Vygotsky, starts with a cultural line of development, when children do not simply learn knowledge from adults but internalize human-specific cultural tools — linguistic signs. Based on the conceptualization of cultural tools by Vygotsky contrary to more traditional socio-cultural schools , it follows that a child can be enculturated from birth.

Children are not only born in a human-created environment, but in a linguistically mediated environment that becomes internalized through development. This notion was crucial for Vygotsky. Similarly, an answer to the question of whether animals have culture would differ depending on how one defines culture.

This answer can be affirmative if culture is defined as the manufacturing and usage of tools and the ability to modify the environment in which an animal lives Snowdon, However, to Vygotsky, the answer would likely be negative, as for him, culture is mainly a semiosphere, socially shared information coded in symbols Toomela, Not surprisingly, contemporary attempts to study culture in a more comprehensive way have led to the emergence of interdisciplinary fields of neuroanthropology Dias, , neuropsychology Brickman et al.

In this paper, we sought out to demonstrate that Vygotskian thinking can be applied to contemporary psychological research and there is a potential for such an application. To this end, we first reviewed historical, social, and temporal contexts of Vygotskian work.

Knowledge of these contexts is useful for understanding aspects of Vygotskian thinking. Following this review, we outlined two core principles transcending every aspect of Vygotskian theory, which in our opinion have the most profound implication for understanding his approach. We suggest that these principles are useful for modern day psychology and are in fact developed by many researchers, although such application does not necessarily rely explicitly on Vygotskian work.

Consequently, we discuss how these core principles can be applied to modern psychological research and can assist psychology in solving problems that are still important for the discipline just as they were important for Vygotsky. In doing so, we intentionally do not provide our readers with direct precise instructions on how Vygotskian approach can be applied to their work. We maintain that our readers are in a better position to develop specific applications of Vygotskian work to their areas of interest. Our goal was to outline potential avenues for such applications and to invite our readers to further dialog on questions that were of interest to Vygotsky himself such as development and structure of the mind, and the role of culture and language in it.

The Ontogeny of Information: Developmental Systems and Evolution (Science and Cultural Theory)

Despite limitations and outdated aspects of his work, there is a potential for incorporating Vygotskian thinking into modern psychological research across disciplines. We would like to leave the readers with the following reflection. Vygotsky envisioned the success of psychology as a science only if it sustained its holistic and interdisciplinary nature:. Such a system [of an interdisciplinary holistic psychology] has not yet been created. We can say with confidence that it will not arise out of the ruins of empirical psychology or in the laboratories of reflexologists.

It will come as a broad biosocial synthesis of the theory of animal behavior and societal man. This new psychology will be a branch of general biology and at the same time the basis of all sociological sciences. It will be the knot that ties the science of nature and the science of man together. Yasnitsky, b. Indeed, there are new perspectives that support early theorizations of Vygotsky see Newman and Holzman, ; Subbotsky, ; Alfredo, We invite scholars working in these interdisciplinary areas to engage with Vygotskian thinking, to explore aspects of his thinking by consulting the work of Vygotskian scholars, and to develop their own nuanced applications of Vygotsky work in their specific research areas.

OV and NB conceived the idea for the article and the scope of the review, discussed the results, and contributed to the final manuscript. OV carried out the main literature review. NB verified the analytical conclusions. The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

The authors thank Timothy Mossman, Justin Stacy, and the reviewers for their comments on the initial stages of this manuscript. There are some excellent publications on the topic e.

Developmental Systems Theory as a Process Theory

Van der Veer and Yasnitsky, a , b ; Yasnitsky, a. However, in our opinion, it would be incorrect to suggest that this context erases any value of research conducted during that historical period. Science has never been free from the ideological and political climate of the time. Consequently, scientists were never completely immune from any given political and ideological climate Aleksandrov and Kirdina, National Center for Biotechnology Information , U.

Journal List Front Psychol v.

Front Psychol. Published online Aug 7. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Natalia Balyasnikova, ac. This article was submitted to Cognitive Science, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology. Received Jul 1; Accepted Jun The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author s and the copyright owner s are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice.

No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms. Abstract Theories formulated by Russian psychologist and educator Lev Vygotsky currently range from being applied and celebrated across multiple contexts to be considered outdated.

Keywords: psychological science, history of psychology, Vygotsky, systems approach, language development, culture, developmental science. Introduction Concepts developed by Vygotsky have transcended time and geographical boundaries. Temporal Contexts Vygotsky started his research career soon after the October Revolution of , which impacted the entire trajectory of his career.

Applications of the First Principle As mentioned above, Vygotsky stressed the importance of understanding developmental processes as a system. Applications of the Second Principle As Vygotsky articulated the importance of societal context for education and possible implications for his theory in education, the second principle has been recognized in various disciplines, namely educational research.


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  8. Conclusion In this paper, we sought out to demonstrate that Vygotskian thinking can be applied to contemporary psychological research and there is a potential for such an application.