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Chapter 7 - Sensory and Perceptual Development.docx

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David Collins

PSY 2105 Chapter 7 Sensory and Perceptual Development October 17 2012 Issues in the Study of Perceptual Development  All sensory systems are operative from birth, and all achieve close to adult levels by the end of infancy. o Sensation  Detection of sensory information o Perception  Interpretation of sensation  Organization and understanding of meaning of sensations o Attention  Selective perception  Focus on certain stimuli while ignoring others Theories in Sensory-Perceptual Development  Environmental/learning o Emphasizes the role of experience in organizing complex perceptions from simple sensations  Ethology o Emphasizes the innate aspects of perception that allow a baby to understand the world  Cognitive-Developmental o Emphasizes the impact of knowledge on perception Theories of Perceptual Development  Constructivist View o states that perception is a cognitive construction based on sensory input plus information retrieved from memory  Perception, is a representation of world that builds up as infant constructs an image of experiences (Piaget, Vygotsky)  Ecological View o states perception has functional purposes of bringing organism in contact with environment and of increasing adaptation (Gibson) Making Sense of the Infants Sensory and Perceptual Experiences (Some Approaches)  The Preference Method o Simple procedure in which at least two stimuli are presented simultaneously to see whether infants will attend more to one of them than the other(s).  One major shortcoming  If an infant shows no preferences among the target stimuli, it is not clear whether he or she failed to discriminate them or simply found them equally interesting. 1 PSY 2105 Chapter 7  The Habituation Method o Process whereby a repetitive stimulus becomes so familiar that responses initially associated with it no longer occurs.  Simple form of learning. As infants stop responding to familiar stimuli, they are telling us that they recognize them as old hat- something that they have experienced before.  Evoked Potentials o Way of determining what infants can sense is to present them with a stimulus and record their brain waves.  Electrodes are placed on the infant’s scalp above those brain centers that process the kind of sensory information that the investigator is presenting. This means that responses to visual stimuli are recorded from the back of the head, at a site above the occipital lobe, whereas responses to sounds are recorded from the side of the head, above the temporal lobe.  High-Amplitude Sucking o Provides infants with a special pacifier containing electrical circuitry that enables them to exert some control over the sensory environment.  After the researcher establishes an infant’s baseline sucking rate, the procedure begins. Whenever the infant sucks faster or harder than he or she did during the baseline observations (high-amplitude sucking), the infant trips the electrical circuit in the pacifier, thereby activating a slide projector or tape recorder that introduces some kind of sensory stimulation. Sensory Modality  Pain o Babies react with cries and heart rate changes to skin damage (pin prick)  The infant’s nervous system is definitely capable of experiencing pain  Receptors for pain in the skin are just as plentiful in infants as they are in adults.  Babies’ behavior in response to a pain-provoking stimulus suggests that they experience pain.  Touch o Sensitivity to touch can be demonstrated in the womb  Tactile stimuli elicit a variety of reflexes in the newborn  rooting, palmar reflexes  Haptic perception  Recognition of objects by touch  Smell o Babies react with facial expressions  Positive  Banana, strawberry  Negative  Rotten eggs, fish  6-day-olds turn more frequently toward mother’s breast pad than another woman’s  Taste o Various tastes will either elicit a facial expression or change the rate of sucking  Example: sweet tastes 2 PSY 2105 Chapter 7 Vestibular Sensitivity  Vestibular sensitivity o Sensory feedback from vestibular organs maintain balance and body posture  Posture can alter alertness in babies (more alert in vertical than horizontal)  Development of vestibular sensitivity and posture is a necessary scaffold for the development of motor skills  Visual cues can outweigh vestibular cues As the wall moves toward the infant, the visual system signals movement, while the vestibular system does not; the infant
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