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Lecture 4

PSYCH 3AB3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Information Processing Theory, Fluid And Crystallized Intelligence, Working Memory

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Jennifer Walsh

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Lec4- 3AB3
Beyond Piaget
Piagets influence:
o Children and adolescents as active agents in their own development (skill
development is the childs responsibility
o Explaining, rather than describing, developmental changes (performed
experiments rather than just observations)
o High level cognitive performance
o Mental structures present in many unrelated areas of functioning
Changes from Piagets theory:
o Stages of development roughly correspond, but it is a gradual process, not
distinct stages
o Stages of formal operation not reached by all people, and at very different
o Young children more competent, older children less competent (his view of
reaching formal operations as being an adult isnt true – children are more
competent than he thought and adolescents still have a lot to learn)
Social Factors Influence Cognitive Development
Skills are developed due to childs abilities and what is encouraged
o Parent, peers, teachers place emphasize on certain skills
o E.g. parent who thinks language is really important will spend more time
with their child on learning languages uneven development of skills for
each child (skewed depending on what they were encouraged to do)
Children acquire skills in different areas at different times not how Piaget would
Vygotskys Approach to Cognitive Development
Socially influenced theory Role of social interactions in development
o Social development crucial to overall development
Learning from those with more skills, peer learning
o Peers have different skill set than you, thus you learn from them
Proximal development: what one is ready to learn (with guidance)
o Amount you could understand, with extra instruction
Scaffolding: appropriate supports for learning
o Adapting ones guidance and support to the current level of understanding to
the learner (crucial to teaching and peer learning)
Mental Resources
Changes to cognitive structure vs. able to access more cognitive resources
Difference between capabilities across ages might have to do with efficiency of
cognitive resources (less resources needed in adults than children)
Cognitive resources: resources that have limited capacity that cognitive system
draws upon when completing a cognitive task
o E.g. attention, short term memory
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Executive control: mental representation of goals, outcomes, strategies (for problem
Information Processing Theory
Information processing theory centers on thinking of the human cognitive system as
a series of connected systems that transmit information between each other in
organized ways
o Information passes through discrete systems, these systems change through
development/transgressions from adolescents to adulthood
No one theory is dominates all common in that they agree there is a limited
Limited capacity for processing things cognitively
Able to use this theory to guide hypotheses about which parts of the system
specifically change with age
Selective attention: concentrating on one task while actively blocking out awareness
of distractions
o Selective attention ability increases with age into adolescence
Divided attention: paying attention to two tasks at once
Total capacity for attention does not increase with age during development, how
attention is allocated changes
o Study: efficiency changes and not necessarily the pool of resources
Working Memory
Working memory is the cognitive structure responsible for processing incoming
information, while acting as a buffer to hold the most revent pieces of information
active in memory
o Working memory task Childhood = 4; adolescents/adulthood = 8 items
Adolescents can hold more information at once, and process it faster
o Adolescent/adult brain doesnt need to recruit as many areas to do a task
o Study: children rely on hippocampus during memory task, but adolescent
only recruit hippocampus in hard memory task dont use it for simple tasks
do tasks more efficiently)
o Children recall extra details they dont need, possible reason for why they
cant store as much store unnecessary info
Heuristics, Abstraction, Fuzzy Traces
Children are likely to recall precise details of events
o Give unnecessary details cant really grasp the gist of things
Adolescents can get the gist of an event and retain important details
o Give the theme, climax, important details of events
Heuristics are simple rules used to govern behaviour that are likely to work, but
might sometimes be wrong
Fuzzy traces: the theory that human store information in a way that allows for
extractive gist information
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