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Department
Psychology
Course
PSYC 352
Professor
Jeannette Benson
Semester
Fall

Description
Chapter 1- Introduction Definition of Cognition Cognition = mental processes involved in gaining knowledge and comprehension I.e. thinking, remembering, problem solving, language, imagination, perception; most human psychological processes and activities involve cognitions ALL COGNITIVE PROCESSES ARE CONNECTED Big Questions Description question: What does childrens thinking look like at various points throughout development? Explanation question: How does this development come about? Theoretical Framework 1. Piaget - Interested in the nature of knowledge - Saw consistencies in childrens behaviour across different areas at each point in development - Contributions: o Stages o Assimilation/accommodation (how changes in thinking happen) Stages of Development 1. Sensorimotor Stage (0-2 years) - Knowing the world through actions on world around them - Gradual differentiation of self from environment - Largely in the here and now, not thinking hypothetically 2. Preoperational Stage (2-7 years) - Have representations but not able to perform operations on them - Operations = logical manipulation of representations: reversible actions - Kids are egocentric o Mountain Task- perspective taking (what will other children see from different sides of the mountain) - Dont understand transformations like conservation 3. Concrete Operational Stage (7-11 years) - Logical operations on mental representations are now possible, but largely limited to concrete things that are present in the world - Conservation and perspective taking 4. Formal Operational Stage (11+ years) - Logical operations can be applied to abstract concepts, such as hypothetical and abstract situations - Improved reasoning - Scientific thinking Developmental Changes in Thinking Assimilation = interpreting new stimuli using your previously established ways of thinking about things I.e. furry animal = dog Accommodation = adapting your knowledge/mental structures based on new stimuli I.e. furry animal = conceive new category of animal (cat) 2. Neo-Piagetian Approaches - Generally share Piagets views o BUT have a problem with Piagets characterization of children as being IN a particular stage - Lots of things impact whether a child demonstrates knowledge in a given context and Piaget ignored these - I.e. things that change in children to affect task performance o Cognitive capacity o Memory capacity o Flexibility of attention o Problem solving skills - *These things can affect BOTH how the child thinks AND the extent that the child can express his/her underlying knowledge in a given context Robbie Case o Focused on kids ability to handle more and more features of a given problem o Number of elements (goals, actions, etc.) that can be considered at one time is determined by the childs short term storage o *IN SUMMARY, he kept the spirit of Piagets theory, but drew heavily on the info- processing approach 3. Info- Processing Theory Goal: to provide an explicit, testable, detailed understanding of what a cognitive system is doing in real- time when face with a task/problem - Sees human mind as a complex cognitive system like a computer - System manipulates and processes info Describing Development What types of things change? - What parts of tasks children encode - Ways children combine knowledge they already have - Extent processes are automatized - Complexity of the processes/rules acquired Computer Simulations - Simulate hypothesized operations of the human system - Allows researchers to test and revise models of how things work Connectionist Models - Type of computer model aimed at mimicking learning - Aims to tie learning back to brain - Nodes connected by pathways - System learns by encountering examples and detecting correlations/associations with them - Pathways stimulated more than others end up being stronger Sieglers Work on Addition - Many ways to get an answer to an addition problem - Method and likelihood of method change over time - Poor strategies replaced by better ones, but some poor ones used to some extent longer - Variability both within and across children 4. Biological Approaches 1) Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience - Look at changes in brain activity for different processes across development - Show complex relation between biology and experience NOTE: identifying brain correlations doesnt necessarily mean brain development determines behavioural development 2) Modularity Nativism - Innate modules, structures, or constraints that are specific to particular domains (i.e. language) - Limited experience is needed to activate innate structure of a module - Modules are independent of others EVIDENCE: areas of disabilities 5. Theory Theory - Child as a scientist - Children develop a theory to explain the things happening around them - As they encounter contrary evidence, they revise the theory to account for this new evidence - Thought to lead to theory change - Useful to think of childrens theories as ideas with likelihood possibilities/probabilities attached Way of Interpreting New Evidence - Situation is special - Person is special - At least one relevant, general theory is wrong/needs revising * Over time as a theory starts to look less probable, children may be particularly motivated to start looking for alternative explanations/theories 6. Dynamic Systems Approach - Views kids as active, self-organizing, systems that tend to develop along certain paths that are continually adjusting to what they encounter - Like river flowing down mountain - Babies stepping reflex circumstances have to be right for underlying reflex to show * Children are both DYNAMIC (always changing) and SYSTEMS (organized with levels) 7. Sociocultural Approaches: Overview - Emphasizes social and cultural influences - Development as a process of active learning guided by adults/others - Lev Vygotsky Levels of Sociocultural Context 1) Distal = social, cultural, historical moment that child is in affects exposure I.e. literacy, computers, norms 2) Proximal = involves moment-to-moment and day-to-day interactions with parents, siblings, peers, teachers, etc. Guided participation = adults arrange childs activities, regulate difficulty of task, direct childs attention, and provide both implicit and explicit instruction - Inter-related levels - Child is an active learner Zone of Proximal Development = area lying between where a child is now cognitively, and where the child could be with help o Limited by particular stage in development o Parents adjust naturally o Pushes childs ability Theories Quick Overview Chapter 2- Infant Perception Why original under-estimation of infants abilities? 1. Theoretical reasons: tradition in philosophy and psychology to assume we start we a tabula rasa and work up from there based on knowledge 2. Methodological reasons: young infants cant talk, and have very poor motor skills, very hard to test knowledge WHAT CAN INFANTS DO? Methods make use of these actions. - Look at things - Suck on things - Show physiological response - Emote (cry) Habituation Studies Premise: infants will respond to new or surprising stimuli with increased attention - Start by repeatedly presenting infant with a stimulus initial high interest that will gradually decline - THEN present a NEW test stimulus - See whether infant dishabituates (looks longer at new stimulus) - Dishabituation tests use about: o Preferences: prefer relatively novel stimuli o Recognition/memory: some knowledge of previously presented stimuli o Discrimination: recognize difference in the stimuli presented Habituation Studies: Sucking - Infants will increase sucking rate to receive auditory/visual stimuli o i.e. positive reinforcement - after repeated presentations, interest (and sucking) decreases - THEN present NEW stimuli- see if sucking increases again Habituation Studies: Heart Rate - Infants heart rate will change in response to novel auditory or visual stimuli - *Decreased heart rate reflects orienting, attentional response - After repeated presentations, interest (and HR) returns to normal - Then presents NEW STIMULI- see if heart rate is affected Habituation Studies: Looking Time - Infants will increase their looking time to new/surprising visual stimuli/events - After repeated presentations, interest (and looking time) decreases - THEN present NEW stimuli- see if looking is affected
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