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Lecture 4

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PSYC 2500
Kim O' Neil

Lecture 4 Child’s growth - Rapid in first 2 years (ex: 19 to 32 inches, 7 to 22 pounds) - Development in a cephalocaudral direction (growth from our head downwards) and proximodistal (grow from the inward [the trunk] out [to the limbs]) - Individual variations: physically and cognitively - Cultural variations: heredity, environment (ex: warmer countries there is lower body fat because it is unnecessary), disease, and emotional climate (ex: stress) Brain development - Brain growth rapid (ex: from birth to 2 years, grows from 25% to 75%) - Neurons: cells that receive and transmit neural impulses - Glia: nourishes neurons - Synapses: connective space between cells - Synaptogenesis: formation of synaptic connections between neurons - Synaptic pruning • In early infancy we make more connections that we actually need • Therefore, as we develop, those particular synapses/connections die off because they are unnecessary or not in use - Plasticity: extent to which brain organization is flexible (2 forms) • Cells are responsive to effects of experience (use it or lose it!)  Need environmental stimulation to develop and maintain these connections • Also other areas of brain can compensate- more so when younger (ex: if person suffers a stroke, other areas may take over for that function) Brain growth - Myelinisation: formation of protective sheath around neurons- allows for transmission of neural impulses. Research supports the idea that the environment is important in this process • The more myelin, the easier the information can be transmitted - Brain developing right through to adolescence (which explains increase in attention spans, info processing) • Development of frontal cortex Psychological implications of physical growth - Influences on parents (ex: child is more independent) • Autonomy granting by parents - Child feels more bold, sociable • Because they have that ability to explore their environment - Children develop through to adolescence- become stronger, fine tune motor skills - Cultural variations in growth Puberty - Adolescent growth spurt = sexual maturation - Girl sexual maturation = 9/10, but the growth spurt is around 11 - Boys sexual maturation = 11/12, but the growth spurt is around 13 - Secular trend: earlier sexual maturation and bigger bodies • Changes in hormones, greater availability of food - Causes: pituitary gland secretes hormones, nutrition, stress - Cultural differences in onset of puberty Timing of puberty - For boys: • Early = confident, athletic, popular • Late = inferior, socially inadequate - For girls: • Early = less outgoing, less popular, anxiety, depression - Why is an early onset for boys associated with positive outcomes while for first it has negative outcomes? • The girls mature sooner than others to begin with, therefore when they do mature even earlier then they may be isolated or excluded • For boys, maturation is almost praised, you become superior • For girls, early maturation is seen as being ‘different’ - Study in textbook: • Girls who have strained relationships with their dads will start sooner than if she has a positive relationship • If she
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