Ch12 detailed chapter notes i used these to study and did well on the exams

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28 Sep 2011

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Chapter 12
Lifespan developmental psychology studies the processes and the patterns of change that occur within an
individual over a life course
Similarities and differences among people as they develop and change; when and how these occur
Major developmental periods: prenatal development, infancy and childhood, adolescence, and adulthood
and old age
Prenatal Development
Nine months between conception and birth
Three stages - zygote, embryo, foetus
Zygote stage
Lasts two weeks
Single new cell that is formed at conception, divides many times, internal organs begin to form
Near end of this stage, a third layer of cells appears that will eventually develop into muscles and
circulatory and excretory systems
Embryonic stage
Two weeks to eight weeks after conception
Development at rapid pace
Heart beats, brain and spinal cord functioning, body structures forming
Features of human body (hands, fingers, etc.)
Reflexive reactions to stimulation
Embryo is most susceptible to chemicals that can cause birth defects
Teratogen - (teras = malformation) - any substance, agent or event that can cause birth defects
Beginning of sexual development
Gonads become either ovaries or testes
If testes present they secrete class of sex hormones known as androgens (andros - man; gennan -
produce); ex. Testosterone
Development of female sex organs occurs naturally; doesn’t need to be stimulated by hormone
Fetal stage
Lasts about 7 months
Starts with appearance of bone cells, ends with birth
Some movement, especially kicking
Sleeping and waking regularly
Heartbeat can be heard through stethoscope
7th month critical because if it’s born prematurely it has fair chance of surviving
Threats to Normal Prenatal Development
Mothers diet is most important factor in fetus’ development
Malnourishment can cause abnormal development and intellectual deficits
teratogens cause birth defects
Some antibiotics taken in large quantities for a long time can produce defects; ex. Tetracycline can cause
irregularities in bones and discoloration of teeth
Smoking - causes reduced oxygen levels; miscarriages, low-birth weight babies, increased chance of
premature birth, more births by C-section
Cocaine - increased risk of premature birth, low birth weight, smaller than normal head circumference,
problems in neural development (arousal, attention), born addicted, withdrawal symptoms
Alohol - pre and postnatal growth deficits, deformations (eyes, mouth), low brain mass and other brain and
nervous system abnormalities, and heart deformation - this is all known as fetal alcohol syndrome
FAS children fall behind physically and intellectually
Read interim summary p. 378
Physical and Perceptual Development in Infancy and Childhood
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Infant - up to two years old
Motor Development
Birth - important movements are reflexes - automatic movements in response to stimuli
Rooting: turning head toward touch at side of mouth
Sucking: baby will suck when something is put in its mouth
Swallowing: when milk or any other liquid enters mouth, baby will make swallowing movements
All important to survival
Normal motor development follows pattern dictated by maturation of muscles and nervous system
Maturation - stable change in thought, behaviour, or physical growth due to the aging process (not
Development of motor skills - two ingredients: maturation of nervous system and practice
Perceptual Development
Senses - noises cause startling, light causes squinting, discomfort causes crying
Held firmly and tilted backwards - baby will flail arms and legs and stiffen - sense of balance
Facial expressions indicate taste preferences
Preference for odour of their mothers breast - can tell the difference between mother and others
Smell of mothers lactation > smell of other lactating women > smell of non-lactating women
Recognize and prefer mothers voice - pre-exposure in the womb
Perception of Patterns
Visual perceptual abilities of infants can be studied by observing their eye movements with an eye-
tracking device as visual stimuli are showed to them
One month old doesn’t look at inside of a figure; gaze ‘trapped’ by edges
Two month old scans across border to investigate interior of a figure
Babies at one or two months aren’t perceiving complete shapes
Scanning strategy limited to fixation on a few parts of object
Three months - clear signs of pattern recognition
Perception of Space
Ability to perceive three-dimensional space
Visual cliff - platform containing checkerboard pattern
Most babies don’t venture out onto the glass and act as if afraid of falling
Retinal disparity is a cue that contributes to depth perception
Points on objects that are different distances from the viewer fall on slightly different points of the two
Perception of depth occurs when two images are fused through visual processing - “solid appearance”
Critical period - specific time during which certain experiences must occur if an organism is to develop
Consists of a continuous interaction between physical maturation and environmental stimulation
Babies with crossed eyes don’t experience depth perception because the same points on the two retinas are
receiving the same information - surgery before three years of age will allow for stereopsis to develop
Read interim summary p.381
Cognitive Development In Childhood
Cognitive capacities develop as children grow
The Importance of a Responsive Environment
Cognitive development - the process by which infants get to known things about themselves and their
Focus on environmental factors
Learning that events in the environment can be dependent on one’s own behaviour - environments in
which infant’s behaviour has tangible effects is the most effective in promoting cognitive development
Experiments with babies, pillows, head movement and suspended mobiles
Infant control of stimuli in their environment
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In some tragic cases, babies have been raised in unresponsive, unstimulating institutions
Ex. Beirut institution for infants where kids were isolated and only physical needs were fulfilled;
extremely impaired in cognitive, language, and motor development
The Work of Jean Piaget
He viewed cognitive development as a maturational process
Noticed that children of similar age tend to engage in similar behaviours and to make the same kinds of
mistakes in problem solving
These similarities are result of sequence of development that all normal children follow
As children develop they acquire cognitive structures - mental representations or rules that are used for
understanding and dealing with the world and for thinking about and solving problems
Two types of cognitive structures:
1. Schemata - mental representations or sets of rules that define a particular category of behaviour - how
the behaviour is executed and under what conditions
2. As child acquires knowledge of the environment, he/she develops mental structures called concepts -
rules that describe properties of environmental events and their relations to other concepts
Ex. What objects do, how they relate to other objects, and what happens when they are touched and
Infants acquire these two cognitive structures through interaction with their environment
Two processes help a child adapt to his/her environment:
1. Assimilation - process by which new information is incorporated into existing schemata
2. Accommodation - process by which existing schemata are changed by new experiences
Ex. Schemata for what children are and what adults are, or how things are done
Piaget’s Four Periods of Cognitive Development
The sensorimotor period
Lasts first two years of life; first stage
Orderly progression of increasingly complex cognitive development ranging from reflexes to symbolic
Cognition closely tied to external stimulation
Important feature of this period is development of object permanence - idea that objects don’t disappear
when they’re out of sight
Cognition exists entirely in behaviour - thinking is doing
Three months - able to follow moving objects with their eyes, even when hidden (but they won’t go look
for hidden object, just look at where it disappeared)
Five months - can grasp and hold objects and gain experience with manipulating and observing them; can
anticipate future position of a moving object
Last half of first year - more complex concepts concerning nature of physical objects
Early in second year - object permanence is well enough developed that infants will search for an object in
the last place they saw it hidden; they can only keep track of hiding places they can see
Deferred imitation - children develop the ability to imitate actions they have seen others perform
They’re forming mental representations of actions they’ve observed
Two year old children begin to think symbolically - having an imagination
Use words to represent objects - this skill is crucial to language development
The Preoperational Period
Age two to age seven - ability to think logically and symbolically
Rapid development of language ability and representing things symbolically
Ex. Arranging blocks to represent a train
Symbolic representations - signifiers: motor act represents (signifies) the concept because it resembles
either the movements the object makes or the movements the child makes when interacting with the
Words are non-physical symbols that represent objects; they’re abstract symbols called “signs”
Signifiers are personal; based on child’s interaction with object
Signs are social conventions understood by all members of a culture
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