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Article

The Constructive Operators of the Working Mind: A Developmental Account of Mental-Attentional Capacity

The Russian Journal of Cognitive Science. 2019. Vol. 6. No. 2. P. 44-55.

 

 Many psychological theories attempt to explain the mechanisms that govern cognition in adults, and fewer theories attempt to explain also how cognitive mechanisms change across development. Even fewer theories provide a brain representation of mechanisms related to cognitive development. One such theory is the Theory of Constructive Operators. In this review, we present key components of this general theory and provide quantitative predictions for the development of core cognitive abilities such a mental-attentional capacity. Specifically, the model of endogenous mental attention presents a domain-free resource that increases in power during childhood and adolescence. Mental-attentional capacity grows concurrently with prefrontal brain regions and is a fundamental factor that contributes to individual differences in cognitive abilities. We provide examples of a sophisticated method of meta-subjective task analysis that can serve as a tool for evaluating the mental demand of a task. Overall, the theory of constructive operators and its brain representations, its theory-based tasks, and the method of meta-subjective task analysis are useful tools for psychologists, educators, and neuroscientists who investigate aspects of development.