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Lecture 5

Evolution - Week 5

8 Pages

Course Code
Psychology 3229A/B
Scott Mac Dougall- Shackleton

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Week 5 - Cognitive Development Unit 5.1- Development and Innateness ● Development ● Nature/nurture fallacy ● Development as an epigenetic process ● Contributions to development ● Genes and environment ● Nature/nurture controversy ● Debate between early ethologists and comparative psychologists (behaviourists) ● Reflected ongoing nativism/empiricism debate ● Nature vs nurture ● Debate reflects false dichotomy ● Is a field's area due more to) its length of width? (Hebb) ● Is a cake due more to the recipe or its ingredients? (Bateson) ● Historical exchange between psychology and ethology ● Lehrman and Lorenz ● Lehrman's critique of 'instinct' successful, but resulted in popular rejection of genetic contribution to behaviour ● Concept of instinct ● Problem in defining instinct ● Instinctive or innate behaviours usually: ● Appear during development ● Stereotyped ● Complete (don't have to practice it) ● However, may be result of similar environment, not genetic influence (eg. Imprinting) ● Innate behaviour may be modified by experience ● Gull chicks peck at parent's bill to elicit food regurgitation immediately after hatch (instinctive behaviour) ● However, behaviour modified during first week ● Rotate heads to grasp parent's bill ● Become more specific in which stimuli will elicit pecking ● Robins - if put tuft of red feathers on a branch, male robins attack it ● Signed stimulus is something that elicits an instinctive response ● At birth, can put anything red in front of them, and they will peck, but as they get older, they discriminate against stimuli more ● Shows that even instinctive behaviours are modified by experience (not genetically determined) ● Learning is influenced by genetics ● Variation in preparedness to learn ● Eg. Language learning ● Eg. taste aversion learning ● Rats learn to associate taste with illness and light with electric shock ● Used lithium chloride to make them sick ● Garcia effect - ● Broke all rules of learning (before, learning had to have close contingency, but in this case, rats don't get sick until about a day later; most times learning needs many trials, but this only needs one trial) ● We have an instinctive tendency to pair food and sickness ● Birds learn to associate visual cue with illness ● Even though these seemingly environmentally-learned behaviours ● Modularity ● One of the tenets of evolutionary psychology is that the mind is modular ● Consisting of functionally distinct units ● Rather than an all-purpose general machine, it is more like a swiss army knife ● One of the fundamental assumptions of evolutionary psychology is that the human mind is modular. There are different domain-specific psychological modules to deal with adaptive problems in distinct areas of life. There are no domain-general psychological modules, because there are no domain- general adaptive problems. ● Learning - ultimate aspects ● Could have behaviours that are more or less influenced by experience (and will be more plastic) ● Benefits ● Flexibility and adaptability of responses to changes in environment ● Learning provides a way to change in order to meet challenges produced by environment ● If we live in a long-term, steady, predictable environment, cost of learning may actually outweigh benefits ● Costs ● Requires time/experience with environment ● Risk of learning maladaptive behaviour (mistakes) ● Learned behaviours: unpredictable environments ● Innate behaviours: predictable environments ● Development ● Is a process of gene-environment interactions ● Influence of environment may vary at different periods of development and among traits ● Environment can have influence at different stages; not all stages are the same ● Epigenesis ● Development as a process in which each stage in the growth and differentiation of an individual arises from the preceding stage (where you've been, how they've developed so far) through the joint action of genetic and environmental determinants ● At any point in ontogeny, current phenotype sets stage for further development guided by genes whose expression are more or less modified by environmental influences ● Waddington's Epigenetic landscape ● As cells differentiate (in embryonic development) to become a particular tissue, it becomes very hard for it to change it's track ● If we think of a ball rolling downhill as development over time, would be hard to get it to roll down the other side of the valley once it's already started on the path on one side ● Cognitive Development ● Evolutionary psychological approach ● Cognition is modular ● Domain specific modules ● Innate preparedness to learn specific things - eg. L.A.D. ● "mental organs" ● Innate cognitive modules? ● Languages - prepared to learn language, so long as we're exposed to it ● Folk biology - know that living things are different from non-living things ● Folk physics (physicist in the cradle) ● We live in a world of Newtonian physics (eg. Gravity and objects behave certain ways ● Physical constants have been in place since the evolution of life ● Why would we need to learn about these? ● Eg. Object permanence - we know objects still exist even when they disappear ● Jean Piaget - argued object permanence resulted from experience with objects ● Young infants - when objects are not present, they no longer exist in their cognitive world (won't search for hidden object (an acquired skill) ● Infants will not search for hidden object until approximately 9 months ● Following ability to reach and handle objects ● Lack of object permanence? Or lack of ability to plan and execute reaching tasks? ● Piaget's experiments have been criticized and thought infants learned object permanence earlier ● Habituation-dishabituation paradigm ● Popular experiment paradigm uses looking behaviour when judging interest in infants (track eye/head movements) ● Show a novel toy to an infant, they will become interested and look; once they become habituated, will lose interest and stop looking ● Violation of expectancy should lead to longer looking times ● Barrier passes right through the object in this experiment ● Adults: would violate our expectations ● Infants: look more at impossible events rather than possible ones ● With possible event, infants aren’t very interested; spent longer looking at impossible event ● Infants have object permanence prior to extensive experience handling objects ● Suggests innate 'folk physics' module ● Other evidence? ● Seeing this would violate expectations and look odd ● We know that things that move together are usually part of the same object ● With connected stick, children dishabituate ● When broken stick, it's almost like it's a brand new display (infants have a pre- existing notion of wholes) ● Physical principles of infants ● Objects move as wholes on continuous paths ● No teleportation ● Objects cannot occupy the same space of pass through each other ● No ghosts ● Objects must contact each other to influence motion ● Recognizing conspecifics ● Infants spend more time looking at face-like objects than other shapes ● Argument of a face recognition module ● Face recognition ● Realistic and simple faces elicit increased looking in newborns ● 4 month olds more interested in realistic face ● 2 processes of face recognition ● Conspec (*spec=species) ● Innate attentiveness to face-like configuration ● There's some species-species recognition module ● Conlearn ● Development of attention to finer details of face ● More slowly developing property Unit 5.2 - Theory of Mind ● Ability to understand that others have intentions and beliefs that may or may not match one's own ● Test ● False belief test ● Ask what someone else would think about an unexpected outcome ● Eg. 2 dolls ● One doll moves a toy in the absence of the second ● Second returns, where will they look? ● Ability to infer false beliefs emerges at 4-5 years old ● Pre-4 or 5 year olds also fail to remember what they initially thought ● Study of pencils in a Smarties box ● Child says they think there is candy in the box ● After being shown it's coloured pencils, they say they thought there were pencils in the box ● How does theory of mind develop? ● Test is pass or fail (one problem with this test) ● Is development all or none? ● False belief test ● Children look at correct location prior to stating incorrect location ● Development gradual and cumulative ● Role of experience ● Children with older siblings pass false belief test earlier ● Forced to consider motivations of others sooner? ● Experience important in development, but likely not required ● Autism ● Autistic children have difficulty with theory of mind ● Specific modular deficit? ● Other disorders have no deficit ● Down's syndrome ●
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