PSYC21H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Twin, Mirror Neuron, Superior Temporal Sulcus

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Published on 21 Apr 2013
Week 3 readings
Chapter 3: Biological foundations Genes, temperament, and more
- 4 aspects of biology that contribute to children`s social development
1. Biological preparedness: gives babies a head start in development (visual, auditory,
olfactory and tactile capacities present at birth
2. Neurological
3. Genetics
4. Differences in temperament
Biological preparedness for social interaction
- Babies responsiveness to other human beings increases their caregivers interest and
attention and ensures the infants well-being
- How are babies prepared?
From biological rhythms to social rhythms
Behaviour follows biological rhythms which they learn to control and regulate
biological regulatory skills over the 3 months of life are able to interact with their
mother in a synchronous manner showing a predictable degree of
6-10 weeks premature babies have rhythms (sleep-wake cycles) that are not fully
developed ; linked to poorer social interaction synchrony with the mother at 3
Visual preparation for social interaction
Stare longer at objects that have larger elements, movement, clear contours and
a lot of contrast such as faces
Mostly interested in eyes
Prefer mothers face than face of a stranger
Auditory preparedness for social interaction
Babies can hear complex noises even before they are born --> e.g. Cat and the
Hat was read twice a day for the last 6 ½ weeks of pregnancy where after births
infants preferred to listen to The Cat and the Hat rather than an unfamiliar book
Like a voice that is high in pitch with exaggerated pitch contours
By 9 months they tune out words and sounds from other languages
Smell, taste and touch
Newborns can discriminate among different odours and tastes and prefer those
that adults find pleasant
Preference for the food flavors consumed by their mothers
Sense of touch first sense to develop
Beyond faces and voices: Primed to be a social partner
2-3 months infants enjoy face-to-face play with their parents
- Why are babies prepared?
Prepared by evolution to expect certain types of environments and to process some
types of info more readily and efficiently than others
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Adaptive and useful for survival biologically programmed to be responsive to social
partners and have a set of social responses that ensures that their needs are met
Neurological basis of social development
- The brain
Cerebrum: 2 connected hemispheres f the brain
Cerebral cortex: covering layer of the cerebrum, which contains the cells that control
specific functions such as seeing, hearing, moving, and thinking
Frontal cortex = processing emotional info
Limbic system (set of brain structures that form the inner border of the cortex) =
regulation of emotion and social behaviour
Amygdala (structure of limbic system) = recognition of fear and surprise expressions
- Brain growth and development
Brain spurts in infancy and childhood
Motor cortex
o 2 months, frontal motor cortex undergoes rapid change, motor reflexes
like rooting and startle response disappear and ability to reach for objects
o 8 months ability to crawl and to search for hidden objects and ppl
o 12 months walking
Visual cortex
o 3 months looking longer at facelike stimuli and nonface stimuli
Auditory cortex
o More sensitive to human voices and language input from caregiver
o 18-24 months rapid language development
Development of prefrontal cortex
o 5-7 years appearance of executive processes, which give children the
ability to think flexibly, act appropriately, plan and organize, control
impulses and allocate attention
Changes in adolescence
o Puberty abrupt changes in interior limbic and paralimbic areas
associated with social and emotional processing
o Gradual development of executive functioning
- Hemispheric specialization
Cerebral hemispheres: 2 halves of the brains cerebrum
Corpus collosum: band of nerve fibers that connect the 2 hemispheres of the brain
Lateralization: process by which each half of the brain becomes specialized for
certain functions e.g. control of speech and language by the left hemisphere and
visual-spatial by the right hemisphere
Begins early in life
Children experience brain injury, recover functioning because their brain
- Nerves and synapses
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At birth baby has most of its neurons
Neuron proliferation: rapid formation of neurons in the developing organism’s brain
Glial cells: supports, protects and repairs neurons; some responsible for myelination
(occurs mostly in first 2 years)
Neural migration: movement of neurons within the brain that ensures that all brain
areas have a sufficient number of neural connections
Synapses: intercellular communication exchanges info between nerve cells usually
Synaptogenesis: forming of synapse
Brain is programmed to make more neurons than it needs
2 processes reduce the number of neurons and connections:
Programmed neuronal death: naturally occurring death of immature nerve cells
during early development of the nervous system
Synaptic pruning: brains disposal of the axons and dendrites of a neuron that is
not often stimulated
- Brain development and experience
2 processes influences brain development:
1. Experience-expectant processes: universal depend on experiences that are
expected in ppls normal environments such as touch, patterned visual input,
sounds of language etc
2. Experience-dependent processes: unique to the individual and responsive to
particular cultural, community and family experiences
- Mirror neurons and the social brain
Mirror neurons: nerve cell that fires both when a person acts and when a person
observes the same action performed by someone else, as if the observer himself
were acting
Important for learning new skills through imitation and for understanding other ppls
actions and intentions
Linked to language acquisition, development of theory of mind skills and feelings of
Problems with mirror neuron system may underlie cognitive disorders and that ppl
in autism have deficiency in social skills, imitation, empathy and theory of mind
Mirror neuron system found in the social brain network of brain regions involved
in understanding other ppl
Part of the brain has increased in size in recent evolution
Involved in social functions that range from recognizing faces and bodily gestures
to evaluating what other ppl are thinking or feeling, predicting what they are
about to do next and communicating with them
Medial prefrontal cortex important in understanding our own and others
communicative intentions
Amygdala and superior temporal sulcus are regions of the social brain involved in
processing emotional facial expressions
Frontal insula (FI) active when ppl experience emotions
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