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Chapter 7.docx

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Psychology 2040A/B
Jackie Sullivan

Chapter 7: Cognitive Development: An Information-Processing Perspective The Information-Processing Approach - Most information-processing theorists view the mind as a complex symbol-manipulating system through which information from the environment flows, often using the metaphor of a computer o First information is encoded – taken in by the system & retained in symbolic form o Then a variety of internal processes operate on it, recoding it into a more effective representation o Then decoding it by comparing its information with others - When the cognitive operation is complete, the information is used to make sense of their experiences & to problem solve A General Model of Information Processing - The store model, it focuses on general units of cognitive functioning, information in 3 parts of the mental system for processing: the sensory register; the short-term memory store & the long-term memory store - As information flows sequentially through each, we can use mental strategies to operate on & transform it, increasing the chances the we the chances that we will retain information, use it efficiently & think flexibly, adapting the information to changing circumstances Components of Mental System - First, information enters the sensory register; here, a broad panorama of sights & sounds are represented directly but stored only momentarily - In the second part of the mind, the short-term memory store, we retain attended-to information briefly so we can actively “work” on it to reach our goals o Basic capacity or short-term memory – inform can be held for a few seconds  Verbatim digit span – the longest sequence of items a person can repeat back in the same order; usually is about 7 items o Must go beyond verbatim info to actively thinking info – working memory – the number of items that can be briefly held in the mind while also engaging in some effort to monitor or manipulate those items  Way to assess working-memory capacity, a verbal memory-span task might ask children to repeat a sequence on numerical digits backwards; memorize a lost of words while also verifying the accuracy of simple math calculations, etc.  Another way is, a visual/spatial-span task, researchers might present children with a set of distinctly coloured circles in an arrangement on a screen & then ask them to point to the spot in an identical empty grid where each circle was located o Working-memory span is typically about 2 items fewer than short-term memory span & is also a good indicator of a child’s capacity to learn - To manage the cognitive systems’ activities, the central executive directs the flow of information, implementing the basic procedures just mentioned & also engaging in more sophisticated activities that enable complex, flexible thinking o The more effectively the central executive joins with working memory to process information, the better learned those cognitive activities will be & the more automatically we can apply them o Automatic processes are so well-learned that they require no space in the working memory & thus, permits us to focus on other information while simultaneously performing them o Futhermore, the more information we process in the working memory & the more effectively we process it, rd the more likely it will transfer to the 3 & largest storage area – long-term memory - Long-term memory, our permanent knowledge base, is unlimited, we store so much in this memory that retrieval – getting the information back from the system – can be problematic o To aid retrieval of info, we apply strategies, such as categorizing memories by their contents Implications for Development - When applied to development, the store model suggests that several aspects of the cognitive system improve with age: (1) the basic capacity of its stores, especially the working memory; (2) the speed with which children work on information in the system & (3) executive function – applying basic procedures & higher-level strategies in the service of goal-oriented behaviour Working-Memory Capacity - Short-term & working memory span increase steadily with age but individual differences are evident at all ages & working-memory is also a good predictor of intelligence & academic achievement in diverse subjects o Children with persistent learning difficulties in reading & math are often deficient in working-memory capacity; the poorer they did, the more severe their problems o Children from poverty-stricken families are more likely to score low on working-memory span tasks - Interventions are needed, effective approaches are communicating in short sentences with familiar vocab, repeating task instructions, asking children to repeat back crucial information to ensure they remember Speed of Processing - Developmental increases in working-memory capacity in part reflects gains in processing speed - Efficient processing releases working-memory resources to support storage of information; the faster children repeat information, the larger their memory spans - With age, children process information more efficiently; the rate of change – a fairly rapid decline in processing time, trailing off around age 12 – was similar across many activities - Similarity in development across diverse tasks in several cultures implies a fundamental change in efficiency of the information-processing system, perhaps due to myelination or synaptic pruning in the brain - Efficient cognitive processing influences academic achievement indirectly – b
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