Diamond, A. (2009). All or None Hypothesis: A Global-Default Mode That Characterizes the Brain and Mind. National Institute of Health Public Access: US Department of Health and Human Services.
Developmental psychologists, neuroscientists, pediatricians and teachers have long known a young child’s nervous system lacks precision in many ways. For example, when he or she intends to do something with one hand, there is often movement in the other hand as well. This paper discusses the author’s experiments on young children and babies, who were challenged to lift a box lid, then reach into the box with one hand in order to retrieve a toy. This paper states the mind and brain often work at a gross level and will only deviate from that with the use of fine-tuning or inhibition. This is true even when one might think the domains being given the global command should be distinct.
It’s easier to issue the same command to both hands than to move only one hand. If one needs to respond to the opposite of the stimulus, one is faster if the correct response is to the side opposite the stimulus. People tend to think of the nervous system as sending out very precise commands only to the relevant recipient, but it appears that often the command goes out more globally and then parts of the system need to be inhibited from acting on the command.
The conclusion of this report states although experts have known for some time that neural connections are initially grossly specified and later fine-tuned, many have not considered that gross, global commands might be the default at all stages of development, and across many contexts.
The report also reveals there is need for more constructive dialogue between those who support massive public investments in early childhood education, and those who question the cost and ask whether they really make a difference. Both perspectives have merit. This paper is designed to further inform sound policy decisions guided by state of the art knowledge, and to create a science-based framework where the public and private sectors work together the quality of life for children and their families.