Developmental change is multi-causal, the aggregate product of many nested processes operating over many time scales and interacting across many levels of analysis (from genes, to parent behaviors, to the language environment, and social groups). Because of this multi-causality there is nontrivial causal spread in which seemingly unrelated systems play causal, modulating or permissive roles in the development of other systems: Early eye-hand coordination in object play sets the stage for (and predicts) later word learning. Sleep patterns (both those deriving from the intrinsic dynamics of the developing child and those resulting from chaotic parenting) play a causal role in the development of the neural systems underlying behavioral control. This complexity gives rise to a tangle of inter-related causes and effects that require multiple measures, large data sets, and new analytic approaches. To understand development, scientists need to go both deep and wide. The goal of this training grant is to provide young researchers - at the pre-doctoral and post-doctoral levels - the training to understand developmental process at multiple levels of analysis.
-Linda B. Smith, Director, Training Program in Integrative Developmental Process