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Lecture 2

Lecture 2 - Development.doc

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GEOG 216
Kevin Hamilton

Developmental Psychology: Development Through the Life Span Topics: • Definition of development • Learning Vs genetics • Factors influencing development • Questions posed by developmental psychologists • Conception and prenatal development • Motor development in humans • Stage theory • Critical periods Theories of development: • Psychoanalytic • Behavioural • Humanistic • Cognitive Developmental Piaget: • Schemas • Assimilation and accommodation • Stages: Sensori motor Preoperational Concrete operational Formal operational • Temperament • Attachment 1 • Adolescent Development • Aging Development – definition • The study of changes in an organism’s thinking and behaviour which occur over a life span (pre-natal, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, aging) • We are always in a state of becoming – developmental psychology is concerned with when and how we change • Developmental psychologists study: • Physical development (growth, strength, motor coordination) • Cognitive development (changes in ways that information is processed) • Sensory/perceptual development • Personality development • Social development • Of all mammals, humans have: • The longest time to full physical development • The longest period of learning (humans are unique in that we cope with various things in life through learning and not solely genetics) • The longest time to self sufficiency • Primary factors influencing development: • Biological maturation 2 • Experience • Internal drives (motivation) Developmental psychologists are concerned with 3 main questions: 1) How biological determinants and environment interact? Pre-natal: uterine environment is critical for child st development – German measles (1 3 months), smoking, drugs, and/or alcohol may result in fetal alcohol syndrome and/or retardation in the infant Post-natal: environment vs. genetics 2) Is development gradual or does it take place in discrete stages? 3) Stability vs. change: Are dispositions such as personality stable over one’s life or are they subject to change? (Some traits do tend to be more stable than others, and some are more changeable) Conception and pre-natal development: • In the womb, the child learns stimuli such as the mother’s voice, the sound of her respiration and heart beat • When born, children have reflexes for rooting, sucking, aversion to pain (inherent without any kind of prior experience; due to genetics) 3 Motor development: • Motor development occurs in the same sequence with all children over the entire world but at different rates (considerable variation in terms of rate of development) • Sequence of motor development: 1. Rolling over 2. Sitting 3. Standing holding onto something 4. Crawling 5. Walking • Much of motor development is tied to the process of maturation • Maturation includes physical development (strength & coordination) as well as the expression of biological determinants during development such as: sex, skin colour, eye colour, hair colour • Note: extra stimulation can accelerate motor development (e.g., holding a child upright can help induce stepping movements) • Also, there is some evidence that speech development can be accelerated (studies on pre-natal stimulation) 4 Stages of development: • What do we mean by the term “stages of development”?  Behaviours at any stage are organized around a common theme or set of characteristics  Behaviours that develop at one stage are different from those that develop at other stages  All children go through the same stages in the same order but the duration of each stage can vary Critical periods: • The concept of critical period is closely related to the concept of stages in development • Definition: Crucial time periods during development when an organism must be exposed to specific events or types of stimuli in order for development to occur normally • Hubel and Wiesel won the Nobel Prize in 1981 for their research on the development of the visual system. They raised kittens in the dark, except for brief periods when they exposed them to specific stimuli (vertical or horizontal lines). Once the cats’ vision development is complete, the cats’ eyes only track the specific kind of stimuli that they were exposed to due to tuning in the visual cortex. Once the critical period in visual system development, the programming is permanent. (“The effect of dark rearing on the time course of the critical period in cat visual cortex,” 1991) • The critical period in visual system development for humans is the first 5 years after birth. 5 • The brain starts off with an abundance of neurons and becomes sculpted by early experiences (plastic) • Neural connections develop in response to specific types of experience, therefore people don’t get clumsier and clumsier as they grow (despite the death of neurons) • We know a fair bit about critical periods in visual development • Initially, children are near sighted and show preferences for curved lines, high contrast and interesting shapes • Binocular vision develops during early childhood as a result of receiving the same visual information through 2 eyes • If eyes are patched during the critical period for human visual development (5-7 yr.), no visual cortical cells will develop with sensitivity to binocular cues • Visual and motor experience (e.g., locomotion) must occur together during early childhood or problems will develop with visual/motor coordination • Exposure to varied visual stimuli (e.g., edges of different orientation) must occur in early childhood or the ability to see full range of visual stimuli is restricted (David Hubel & Thurston Wiesel) • Prior to the age of about 5 yr., the child’s brain changes a lot as it is sculpted by experience – this is why we are unable to recall early childhood memories 6 • Note: The term critical period usually refers to aspects of physiological development (e.g., perceptual motor work of Stewart Anstis in colour vision) • In cognitive development, psychologists usually refer to sensitive stages in a child’s development • Language development shows sensitive stages (6-7 yr.). If a child is not exposed to language by or during this time, language ability may not develop properly • When infants are born, they have the ability to make sounds shared by all languages. • Difficulty experienced by researchers when trying to measure infant abilities before language has developed (e.g., habituation studies in vision) Theories of Development: Psychoanalytic (Freud): • We develop as a result of conflicting biological and social forces • Freud claimed that the mind is made of the id (the unconscious), the ego (the sense of i
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