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Psych 2040-Chapter 7: Early Cognitive Foundations.docx

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Western University
Psychology 2040A/B
Michael G Mac Donald

EARLY CONTROVERSIES  nature vs. nurture  empiricists: infants must learn to interpret sensations  William James’ “blooming, buzzing confusion”  nativists: basic perceptual abilities innate  René Descartes, Immanuel Kant  enrichment vs. differentiation  enrichment theory (Piaget): you see more and more and realize there is a difference (nurture)  cognitive schemes are needed to make sense of sensory information  differentiation theory (Gibson): brain develops to a point where they can make a difference (nature)  sensory info can be interpreted on its own  children learn to detect distinctive features RESEARCH METHODS preference method: present 2+ stimuli simultaneously  gain info about infant’s perceptual abilities; infant’s attention measured  if baby doesn’t have a preference— due to inability to differentiate or lack of interest?  habituation method: decrease in response to a stimulus that has become familiar through repetition  discrimination ability tested by presenting multiple stimulus and observing response  dishabituation  evoked potentials: change in brain patterns indicate infant’s detection of stimulus  record brain electrical activity  observe changes in activity for different stimuli  changes indicate ability to discriminate  high-amplitude sucking: asses an infant’s perceptual capabilities by allowing infant to make interesting events last by varying the rate they suck on a special pacifier  pacifier sucking controls stimulus presentation SENSORY CAPABILITIES Hearing  discriminate sounds that differ in loudness, direction, duration, frequency  newborns can discriminate, and prefer, mother’s voice  early phoneme discrimination (smallest sound unit with meaning)  quickly learn to recognize words  more developed than visual abilities  otitis media: bacterial infection of the middle ear producing hearing loss  leaves children developmentally disadvantaged Taste and Smell  newborns have taste preferences: sweet over sour, bitter, or salty  react to noxious odors  can recognize scent of mother at 1 week old Touch, Temperature, Pain  touch  promotes developmental progress  lowers stress levels, calms, promotes neural activity  primary means to learn about environment  therapeutic massage for premature infants  sensitive to food and room temperature  sensitive to pain of circumcision Vision  least mature sense of newborns  visual acuity 20/600  improves rapidly over first 6 months; adult level at 12 months  require sharper visual contrasts  pattern and form  early preference for complex patterns  require high contrast  late form perception: perceiving objects as wholes  eg. moving rods  continuous interaction among inborn visual sense, biological maturation, and learning  depth perception  stereopsis: fusion of two flat images to produce one image with depth  by 3 months of age  size constancy: tendency to perceive an object as the same size from different distances despite size change in retinal image  present early  visual looming: objects getting bigger = coming closer (probably innate
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