Of or pertaining to both sensory and motor activity.
Despite the fact that thought is a fundamental human activity familiar to everyone, there is no generally accepted agreement as to what thought is or how it is created. Thought can refer to the ideas, or arrangements of ideas, that result from thinking. Thinking is considered the act of producing thoughts, or the process of producing thoughts.
Thought underlies many human actions and interactions. Our way of thinking is influenced by the way we talk, although thought can and does, in fact, occur without language. While thinking, a person often moves one's mouth, head, eyes, or makes facial expressions, as he or she would do while talking. Thinking allows humans to make sense of, interpret, represent, or model the world they experience, as well as to make predictions about that world.
Thinking is helpful to any organism with needs, objectives, and desires, as it makes plans or otherwise attempts to accomplish its goals. This intellectual exertion is aimed at finding the answer to a question or the solution to a problem; it can be as simple as where to get food, or as difficult as solving an equation in quantum mechanics.
Researchers have studied thinking in the form of reasoning, how people make decisions and choices or solve problems, and how people engage in creative discovery and imaginative thought.
Jean Piaget (1896 - 1980) studied the development of thought in children from birth to maturity. In his theory of cognitive development, thought is based on actions within an environment. This environment becomes understood through the assimilationof objects which an individual already knows and understands (i.e., the incorporation of new concepts into existing schemes). An individual accommodates the new objects with his or her prior knowledge and understanding (i.e., revisits existing cognitive schemas, perceptions, or understanding so that new information can be incorporated). Regardless of the individual's understanding of the new objects in relation to an individual's prior knowledge, thought helps make sense of the world around him or her.
Piaget found that thought progresses in four stages throughout a person's life:
Sensorimotor Stage. During this stage, infants and toddlers acquire knowledge through sensory experiences and manipulating objects.
Preoperational Stage. At this stage, kids learn through pretend play but still struggle with logic and taking the point of view of other people.
Concrete Operational Stage. Kids at this point of development begin to thinkmore logically, but their thinking can also be very rigid. They tend to struggle with abstract and hypothetical concepts.
Formal Operational Stage. The final stage involves an increase in logic, the ability to use deductive reasoning, and an understanding of abstract ideas.
Thought evolves from being based on perceptions and actions at the sensorimotor stage in the first two years of life, to internal representations in early childhood. Internal representations are gradually organized into logical structures, which first operate on the concrete properties of the environment, in the stage of concrete operations. Then, in the stage of formal operations, these logical structures operate on abstract principles that organize concrete properties.