Since the recognition of psychology as a discipline, scholars have developed various theories to explain cognitive development in humans. While theorists unanimously agree that every human being is cognitively special and unique, they have recognized that the development follows some general pattern, which is documented in various theories.

Among such models is Jean Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development. Although the theory was put forth several years ago, it still remains a prime focus of interest for contemporary scholars. Liben (2014) attributes this to the fact that Piaget’s works are now available in translation, and hence it is increasingly commented and referenced by numerous researchers.

One such attention is that of Olivier Houdé in his book, 3-System Theory of the Cognitive Brain: A Post Piagetian Approach to Cognitive Development. According to Houdé (2019), the prefrontal cortex of the brain has a third control system that inhibits the functioning of the automatic heuristics system and triggers Piaget’s logical algorithm system on receiving the brain’s command.

In his book, he explains the cognitive capabilities of children, the process of its development, and observable biases in adults, all in relation to the 3-System Theory of the Cognitive Brain. The book provides indispensable information on brain development, education, neuroscience, reasoning, and child psychology. 

This book is a reflection of a decades-long experience in the field of developmental and educational psychology. In the course of the book’s introduction, Houdé explains the techniques of theoretical thinking and how they can be employed in scrutinizing various relevant questions. The author divides the book into two parts, consisting of a total of eight chapters, organized in a coherent order. The arrangement of chapters assists the reader in comfortably following the argument on human cognitive development.

The first part of the book discusses the traversing and extensive history of psychology from Plato and Aristotle to contemporary philosophers. The section is chronologically structured into four chapters. Chapter one deals with the earliest origins of psychology in Greek writing. It explains how the terms “psyche” and “logos” were combined to form the word “psychology” (Brock, 2014).

Chapter two focuses on reasoning in the middle ages, which was characterized by elements of faith as well as truth. The third chapter speaks about the widespread faithlessness that was prevalent among people in the period between renaissance and enlightenment. Lastly, chapter four reviews the advancement in the field of psychology during the 19th and 20th centuries.

The author speaks in detail about his proposed theory of reasoning only in the second part of the book. The first part of the book provides an introduction to various psychological theories, with special notes on how they influenced Houdé’s thoughts. The dogma, nature, meaning, and scope of these thoughts are presented in each chapter.

The introductory chapters of part 1 are followed by chapters of part 2, which illustrate the 3-system theory and a paradox regarding reasoning in infants. Part 2 begins with chapter five, where Jean Piaget’s theory of the logical system is analyzed. Theories developed by various philosophers have been influenced by Jean Piaget’s research and his concept of four stages of cognitive development (Blake & Pope, 2015).

Piaget offers an explanation of how children learn and provides a standpoint on cognitive development that assists further research (Demetriou, Shayer, & Efklides, 2016). Chapter six argues for a distinction between systems 1 and 2, which are namely, sub-personal and personal reasoning.

A distinction between these two elements marks a more significant binary division in human reasoning (Piaget, Garcia, & Davidson, 2013), an aspect that must be recognized in psychological theory. In chapter seven, the author introduces his theory and further explains the early cognitive abilities in infants, the self-motivated, planned, and non-linear methods of development in children, and observations that have been practically seen in adults.

The last chapter is majorly a summary of the discussion and a further explanation of the cognitive reasoning of infants. According to Houdé (2019), while infants are not capable of speaking, they are very much capable of logical reasoning. This assertion is against Piaget’s belief that children will not be able to reason logically until the age of seven.

This is an aspect that could be used in examining the cognitive abilities of children. The 3-system theory attains a particular relevance for incorporating psychological reasoning in developing theoretical frameworks.

This book is an essential material for learners at all levels of education and disciplines, who are interested in developmental psychology. Cognitive development is a complex subject that requires various viewpoints in order to be able to understand the changes comprehensively.

A praiseworthy element of the book is the summaries that offer additional information and contribute to the general understandability of the book. One must praise the coherent language and student-friendly approach utilized by Houdé, which makes it easy for the readers to follow the discussion of various subjects.

The palpable concern by Houdé (2019) to develop a new theory indicates a new trend in modifying theories of cognitive development. Through his book, Houdé has attempted to inform readers of various concepts in the field of child cognitive development.

To conclude, 3-System Theory of the Cognitive Brain: A Post Piagetian Approach to Cognitive Development is an interesting and informative resource that could serve as an essential reference material in psychology classes.


Blake, B., & Pope. T. (2015). Developmental psychology: Incorporating Piaget’s and Vygotsky’s theories in classrooms. Journal of Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives in Education, 1(1), 59-67.

Brock, A. C. (2014). Psychology in the modern sense. Theory & Psychology, 24(5), 717-722. DOI: 10.1177/0959354314535513

Demetriou, A., Shayer, M., & Efklides, A. (2016). Neo-Piagetian theories of cognitive development: Implications and applications for education. Routledge.

Houdé, O. (2019). 3-system theory of the cognitive brain: A post-piagetian approach to cognitive development. Routledge.

Liben, L. S. (2014). Piaget and the foundations of knowledge. Psychology Press.

Piaget, J., Garcia, R., & Davidson, P. (2013). Toward a logic of meanings. Psychology Press.

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William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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