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Complex Dynamical Systems in Human Development

Call for Papers

It is increasingly acknowledged that human development can be conceived of as inherently complex and dynamic. Behavioral and psychological patterns, as well as changes therein at developmental time scales, emerge out of complex interactions between a myriad of processes within a situated individual, that is, a person in exchange with his/her physical and social environment. As a result from such complex interactions, typical dynamical properties can be observed, such as nonlinearity, self-organization, attractor states, nested time scales, and fractal scaling.

In the social sciences there is an increase in the use of nonlinear time series analysis and mathematical modeling as a means to study human development as a complex dynamic system (CDS). Advancements are made in developing and applying techniques such as recurrence quantification analyses and longitudinal network modeling. This special issue aims at giving an overview of the current state of affairs with respect to the application of these techniques in the study of human development. Demonstrations of insights in human developmental processes which would not come to the fore with more “traditional” techniques are particularly welcomed.

The purpose of this special issue is to publish high-quality empirical research papers and review articles addressing human developmental processes from a complexity perspective. Contributions are expected to have a thorough theoretical and/or methodological foundation in the CDS approach, addressing the role of one or more of the properties from the list below.

Papers may address human developmental processes in the broadest sense, including topics within domains like motor, perceptual, language, and social development, as well as relating domains of psychological and behavioral development with physiological systems.

Potential topics include but are not limited to the following:

  • Mother-infant synchrony and language development
  • Multiscale phenomena in cognitive development
  • Complex network modeling of skill development
  • Phase transition models of developmental change
  • Self-organization in neural development
  • Social coordination dynamics in atypical developing children

Authors can submit their manuscripts through the Manuscript Tracking System at

Submission DeadlineFriday, 9 March 2018
Publication DateJuly 2018

Papers are published upon acceptance, regardless of the Special Issue publication date.

Lead Guest Editor

  • Ralf Cox, University of Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands

Guest Editors