Chapter 9 Independent Questions
I. Physical Changes
A. Growth and Motor Development
1. In contrast to early childhood (2-6 year olds), elementary aged children (6-12 year olds) are
more competent at large muscle activities like bike riding, which require both strength and
Note: I use the terms elementary-aged children and middle childhood interchangeably.
(a) Hand-eye coordination enables school-aged children to perform activities that require
the coordination of vision with body movements such as _____ or _______.
shooting a basketball or playing a musical instrument
(b) Identify the tasks/activities that elementary aged children would improve at as a result
of their fine-motor coordination gains.
Improvements in fine-motor coordination make writing possible, as well as the playing of
most musical instruments, drawing, cutting, and many other tasks and activities.
(c) Because of advanced skeletal and muscular maturation, what are girls (on average)
slightly better at in comparison to boys? What are boys (on average) slightly better at than
girls to be better
coordinated but slower and somewhat weaker than boys. Thus, girls outperform boys in
activities requiring coordinated movement, and boys do better when strength and speed are
B. The Brain and Nervous System
2. In middle childhood, there are two neurological growth spurts: one occurs between the ages
of 6-8 and the other between the ages of 10-12.
How do these two growth spurts differ with respect to:
(a) The primary sites in the brain that are developing in each growth spurt
The primary sites of brain growth during the first spurt are the sensory and motor areas.
Growth in these areas may be linked to the striking improvements in fine-motor skills and eye–
hand coordination that usually occur between 6 and 8.
(b) The associated advances that would be experienced in each growth spurt selective attention. Predictably, the areas of the brain that govern logic and planning, two
cognitive func- tions that improve dramatically during this period, are located primarily in the
3. In early childhood (chapter 7), the neurons of the reticular formation are myelinized and
associated with gains in attention.
(a) How is myelinization of the reticular formation slightly different in middle childhood?
These connections are essential if the child is to be able to take full advantage of improvements
in frontal lobe functions because, as you may recall, the reticular formation controls attention. It
is well documented that the ability to control attention increases significantly during middle
Difference between attention in early childhood and selective attentionin middle childhood
(b) How does this neurological change affect the skill of attention?
4. The neurons of the association areas are somewhat myelinized before middle childhood
but are completely myelinized by the end of middle childhood. What cognitive gains do
neurologists believe are related to developments in the association areas of the brain?
Neuroscientists believe that this advance in the myelinization process contributes to increases in
information-processing speed. E.g. Rapidly identifying objects
Notes to Study (targeted in the multiple-choice questions on midterm#2):
Because the cortex of the human brain is relatively large in size, it is typically divided into
several parts along the basis of the different functions of these parts. For instance, the cortex is
often divided into the following three parts/functions:
1. Sensory areas – the part of the brain that enables us to make sense of the information we
receive from our five senses
2. Motor areas – the part of the brain that enables us to control voluntary movements
3. Association areas – the part of the brain that enables us to make connections or
“associations” between the information we receive from the four brain lobes or four
geographical areas of the brain.
• The occipital, temporal, and parietal lobes are involved in perceiving information
from our senses and language.
• The frontal lobe is involved in planning, logic and abstract thought. The pre-frontal
cortex (a subpart of the frontal cortex) is the area of the brain most closely associated
with the information-processing concept of ‘executive control strategies’.
o The pre-frontal cortex relates to the following abilities:
To tolerate and make sense of complex and conflicting ideas/classification systems which don’t have a single correct answer
To work towards a defined goal and inhibit non-goal-directed actions
To predict future outcomes of behaviour/events
To display social control and emotional regulation of one’s own behaviour
(ability to suppress: (1) urges/ impulses, (2) desire for immediate rewards –
also referred to as the ability to delay gratification)
5. (a) Although some brain functions are lateralized in early childhood (chapter 7), what brain
function is lateralized in the right hemisphere of the brain during middle childhood? (This
brain function is included in Figure 7.2 in chapter 7 – see p. 195.)
with the lateralization of spatial perception, the ability to identify and act on relationships
between objects in space.
(b) Neuroscientists measure the degree of lateralization in the brain function you identified
in 5a by a relative right-left orientation task. What is the relative right-left orientation task?
the ability to identify right and left from multiple perspectives. Such a test usually shows
that most children younger than 8 know the difference between their own right and left.
Typically, though, only children older than 8 understand the difference between statements
like “It’s on your right” and “It’s on my right.”
(c) How might external factors (nurture) contribute to the lateralization of the brain
function you identified in 5a?
this function lateralizes much more slowly in blind children than in those who have sight. Thus,
it appears that visual expe- rience plays an important role in this aspect of brain development.
Note: Spatial perception is one component of the more general concept of spatial cognition
– use these terms interchangeably for the purposes of answering this question.
C. Health Promotion and Wellness
In comparison to early childhood, there are less careless accidents or unintentional injuries in
middle childhood. However, in contrast to early childhood, obesity emerges as a concern in middle
childhood. Although obesity is a significant health problem in middle childhood, eating disorders
and body image issues are more prevalent in adolescence. This is discussed in chapter 11.
II. Cognitive Changes
A. Language 6. (a) What language advances related to grammar and speaking skills are common in the
period of middle childhood?
During middle childhood, children become skilled at managing the finer points of grammar.
For example, by the end of middle child- hood, most children understand various ways of
saying something about the past, such as “I went,” “I was going,” “I have gone,” “I had gone,”
“I had been going,” and so on. Moreover, they correctly use such tenses in their own speech.
Across the middle childhood years, children also learn how to maintain the topic of
conversation, how to create unambiguous sentences, and how to speak politely or persuasively
Between 6 and 12, children also continue to add new vocabulary at a fairly aston- ishing rate of
from 5000 to 10 000 words per year.
(b) Vocabulary gains are in part due to children’s knowledge of derived words. What are
words that have a basic root to which some prefix or suffix is added, such as “happily” or
B. Piaget’s Concrete Operational Stage (see lecture notes)
C. Direct Tests of Piaget’s View (see lecture notes)
D. Advances in Information-Processing Skills
Piaget argued that the acquisition of mental operations such as sequential ordering, hierarchical
inclusion and conservation resulted in qualitative cognitive changes in middle childhood. The
information-processing theory believes that the cognitive gains in middle childhood are due to
hardware and software upgrades. The questions in this section describe these hardware and
7. What area of the brain is associated with increases in processing speed? (Note that the
answer to this question is from an earlier independent question in this chapter.)
8. (a) Define automaticity
the ability to recall info