Factors That Influence Cognitive and Language Development

The quality of care, the environment and hereditary factors influence cognitive, language, physical, intellectual, emotional, behavioural and psychological development. Cognitive development, for example, begins when an infant starts exploring his environment and learning through his senses, thoughts and experiences. The result of these experiences and the quality and quantity of neuronal connections established in the infant's brain provide the matrix for future development.

Quality of Care

The intellectual, physical and emotional stimulation infants receive from their caregivers provides the experiences that determine future capacities and deficiencies, according to "Brain World" magazine. The relationship between quality of care and a family's economic status also affects children's cognitive development, according to a 2008 study published in the "Journal of Child Development." Researchers evaluated the interactions between 2,089 participating mothers and children during visits to their homes when the children were 14, 24 and 36 months old. Parenting quality corresponded to financial resources. A higher economic status among participating mothers produced a more supportive environment for their children. This resulted in a positive impact upon the children's cognitive abilities at each of the three stages of testing.


Cognition is the ability to think, reason and understand. Infants learn by interacting with objects and people within their environments. They discover the physical and spatial relationships of people and objects by visual observation, by exploring objects with their mouths and by manually manipulating them. Infants acquire problem-solving abilities by learning to move their bodies to grab something out of reach. Another problem-solving technique they develop is how to get the attention of a caregiver to bring them the object of their desire. Children also learn by imitating sounds and facial expressions. Imitation of sounds aids the development of language. Participation in routine activities, such as personal care, promotes cognitive development as the child learns to understand and anticipate what comes next in a familiar routine. Routine activities increase attention span, memory and a child's knowledge of cause and effect, according to the California Department of Education.

Nature and Nurture

Nature and nurture influence the development of cognitive and language skills in children. Robert Plomin, Noam Chomsky and Steven Pinker are among researchers who contend that nature, referring to heredity or genetic factors, dictates the process of the maturation of personality, intelligence and language skills. Siding with nurture or experience and environment as the primary factors influencing development, were environmental-learning theorists John B. Watson and B. F. Skinner. They asserted experience plays the primary role in shaping development with limited involvement of heredity, according to the "State University Education Encyclopedia."

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About the Author

Sara Tomm began writing in 1971. She holds certificates in the medical, physiological and nutritional principles and treatment modalities for eating disorders. As a weight-management consultant, Tomm authored educational materials relating to the medical, psychological, environmental and social aspects of eating disorders, nutrition and physical fitness. She studied at Columbia University, Henry George School of Social Science, Farmingdale State College and Suffolk Community College.