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Methods, Concepts, and Prenatal Development

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Queen's University
PSYC 100

Methods, Concepts, and Prenatal Development Developmental Psychology-study of systematic change and stability of human physical, cognitive, social, and behavioural characteristics across the life span-> continual and cumulative -used to identify tends and what’s ‘normal’ at a given age, and to determine ta problem that needs to be addressed, or whether an individual is exceptional in some ability for a person of their age Cross-Sectional Design-used to measure and compare samples of people at different ages at a given point in time -time and cost-efficient Longitudinal Design-follows the development of the same set of individuals through time -costly and time-consuming -issue of Attrition-> occurs when participants quit participating Cohort Effects-consequences of being born in a particular year or narrow range of years -cohort and generation is similar -differences between age cohorts can be due to numerous factors, including societal, nutritional, medical, physical and behavioural development Stages-pattern of change -increases in size, spend, amount, and a fundamental shift in the type of abilities Continuous Change-change in adults tend to be slower and steadier -still goes through new phases of life such as marriage, parenthood, and retirement Sensitive Period-window of time during which exposure to a specific type of environmental stimulation is needed for normal development of a specific ability -long-term deficits can emerge if the needed situation is missing during a sensitive period, such as language input -helps in culture-> younger immigrants are quicker to identify more strongly with their new culture -where most rapid of development occurs Gestation- genetics and environment begin to shape an individual throughout pregnancy Gestational Age-estimated time since fertilization -as the zygote develops, we can measure its developmental process through it Germinal Stage-first phase of prenatal development and spans from conception to two weeks -begins at Fertilization and the formation of a zygote -cell divisions take place that eventually lead to multiple organ, nervous system, and skin tissue Zygote-cell formed by the fusion of a sperm and an ovum (egg cell)-> gametes -received half a genome from each gamete-> one whole genetic load -begins dividing, first into two cells, then into four, then eight, and so on Blastocyst-gestational age of six days, the zygote turns to it -contains fifty to one hundred and fifty nonspecialized cells -uses energy and resources provided by the ovum Embryonic Stage-spans weeks two through eight, during which time the embryo developing major physical structures such as heart, blood puming, and nervous system, and the beginnings of arms, legs, hands, feet, and brain -basic cell layers become differentiated -first sign of major divisions of the brain (forebrain, midbrain, and hindbrain) are apparent at the beginning of four weeks’ gestation Blastocyst- moves along the fallopian tubes and becomes implanted in the lining of the uterus-> after it divides into a group of cells that continues developing into an embryo, and another groups that forms the placenta Fetal Stage-spans week eight through birth, during which time the skeletal, organ, and nervous systems become more developed and specialized -muscles develop, and the fetus begins to move -sleep and wake cycles start and the senses become fine-tuned, even to the point where the fetus is responsive to external cues -by eleven weeks’ gestation, the differentiations between the cerebral hemispheres, the cerebellum, and the brain stems are apparent -brain development progresses as distinct regions take form -circulatory, respiratory, digestive, and other bodily systems develop -sex organs appear around the third month of gestation -by month four, infants receive signals from the eyes and ears -by eleven to eight months, infants actively listen-> listens to mother’s voice -makes breathing-like motions to prepare for breathing right after birth -during the fifth month, the vestibular system which is required for a sense of balance begins to develop -experiences taste-> will show preferences for foods that their mother ate while pregnant and breastfeeding -human brain development is an extremely lengthy process that spans all the way to early adulthood -cells that are genetically programmed to create the nervous system migrate to their appropriate sites and begin to differentiate into nerve cells Myelination-process during the final months of pregnancy, a fatty tissue called Myelin resulting from glial cells builds up around developing axons of nerve cells and neurons -myelin insulates nerve cells and neurons, enabling them to conduct messages more rapidly and efficiently -used to determine the relative maturity of different areas of the brain -process continues prior to birth and doesn’t finish until early adulthood -one of the final areas to finish it is the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which is important for controlling impulses, planning complex actions, foreseeing consequence, and working memory-> this is why people perform risky behaviours Preterm Infants-born at thirty-six weeks or earlier-> typically, humans re born at a gestational age of around thirty-seven weeks (nine months) -depending on their gestational age, they can be extremely underweight compared to full-term infants, a, and vital regions of the brain and body may be underdeveloped -underdeveloped nervous system may have short- and long-term negative effects on psychological and cognitive functioning -pregnant women typically require almost twenty percent increase in energy intake during pregnancy, including foods high in protein and calcium -malnutrition, illness, and some drugs can result in mild to very severe physical and psychological effects on the developing fetus Teratogen-substance, such as a drug, that is capable of producing physical defects on development-> appear at birth or shortly after -effects range from very mild to death -problems of exposure occurs mostly during the sensitive period -the greater the amount and the greater the length of exposure, the more drastic the effects it’s likely to have on the developing organism -depending on the mother and the fetus, the degree to which it will affect the individual fetus differs -more likely to cause the death of the fetus if the exposure is very early-> timing influences which parts of the body will be affected -expectant mothers stop taking certain medications, but has to balance with the need to ensure that the expectant mother is in good health -alcohol and tobacco can be it if they are consumed at the wrong times and in large enough amounts during pregnancy -smoking and second-hand smoking can expose the developing fetus to it-> decreases blood oxygen and raises uterine concentrations of poisonous nicotine and carbon monoxide, increasing the risk of miscarriage or death during infancy (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), problems with some aspects of emotional development and impulse control, lower IQ, and weighs less -several diseases can have serious effects on development if the mother is afflicted while pregnant-> for example, if rubella is contracted in the first three months of pregnancy, it can cause a rash, low fever, and swollen lymph nodes in adults, and congenital heart disease, deafness, blindness, and mental retardation, but if caught during early to mid-pregnancy, rubella is correlated with the development of schizophrenia Fetal Alcohol Syndrome-involves abnormalities in mental functioning, growth, and facial development in the offspring of women who use alcohol during pregnancy -alcohol, like many other substance, readily passes through the placental embrace, leaving the developing fetus vulnerable to its effects -most common cause for mental retardation -alcohol crosses the placenta, and the fetus is exposed to it directly when it consumes the amniotic fluid -health of newborn infants can be compromised by exposure to the harmful pathogens, such as bacteria and viruses -within their first year after birth, infants are given vaccinations to protect them against conditions such as measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)-> causes autism Autism- psychological disorder characterized by impaired social functioning and, typically, mental disabilities -infants can see objects up to only twelve to fifteen inches away at birth (approximately the same distance between the mother’s face and a breastfeeding infant) -at six to twelve months of age, they reach the normal twenty-twenty vision -color vision appears at least by two months -by eight months infants can usually perceive basic shapes and objects -newborns cringe when smelling something rotten or pungent, but has a strong preference to the smell of sweets Reflexes- involuntary muscular reactions to specific types of stimulation Rooting Reflex-elicited by stimulation to the corners of the mouth, which causes infants to orient themselves toward the stimulation and make sucking motions -helps infants begin feeding immediately after birth -will be replaced by voluntary behaviours later on Moro Reflex-also known as the Startle Reflex -occurs when infants lose support of their head -infants grimace and reach their arms outward and then inward in a hugging motion -may be a protective reflex that allows the infant to hold on to the mother when support is suddenly lost Grasping Reflex-elicited by stimulating the infant’s palm -infant’s grasp is remarkably strong and facilitates safely holding on to one’s caregiver Adolescence Puberty-marks the physical transition from childhood to adolescence, culminating in reproductive and sexual maturity Growth Spurt-sudden increase in height -generally the first sign of puberty -beings at approximately age eleven in girls and thirteen in boys -primarily caused by hormonal activity -physical growth is stimulated by the pituitary gland -nervous and reproductive systems interact to cause further physical changes of reproductive anatomy -hypothalamus begins stimulating the release of hormones such as testosterone and estrogen, which contributes to the development of sex characteristics in boys and girls: Primary Sex Traits- including the genitals and gonads (testes or ovaries) Secondary Sex Traits-in females, includes growth in breast size and the increased distribution of fat at the hips and buttocks -in males include growth of facial and body hair, a deepening of the voice, increased muscle mass, and fat deposits at the waist Menarche-onset of menstruation -marks girls puberty -typically occurs at age twelve in North America-> in less wealthy parts of the world, average age it begins is fourteen and seventeen years old -if it occurs early it is associated with the development of depression, substance abuse, and risky sexual behaviour -timing influenced by physiological and environmental factors-> such as nutrition, genetics, physical activity levels, and illness -absence of a father or the presence of a stepfather during development affects it Spermarche-first ejaculation of sperm -boys are considered to reach sexual maturity -typically takes place approximately fourteen years of age as a nocturnal emission (wet dream) -late maturation is linked to lower performance in school and early maturation is linked to higher performance -hormone surges are associated with negative moods and problems with adjustment -physical changes affect how they see perceive themselves and others -girls who reach puberty early tend to have more emotional difficulty with the experience than boys do -for boys, acquiring masculine traits at an early age may be regarded positively by the individual and his peers -early developers have a greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse and unwanted pregnancies -beginning at approximately twelve years of age, they show significant improvements in their abilities to use logic and reasoning-> Formal Operational Thinking, defined by Jean Piaget-> thinks abstractly about things not in the present and about events or scenarios that are entirely impossible or hypothetical -takes risks and make bad decisions, such as unplanned pregnancies, because of their Prefrontal Cortex which regulates mood, facilitates planning ,organizing ,and reasoning, and impulse control Social Intuitionist Model- moral judgements are not guided solely by reason, but also by out emotional, intuitive reactions to moral dilemmas Lawrence Kohlberg -examined how people reason about moral dilemmas->more complex answers than right and wrong -studied only males and saw it as universal human behavior-> other psychologists disagree and state theta females appear to base moral decisions more on caring relationships and less on justice and abstract principles Preconventional Morality-characterized by self-interest in seeking reward or avoiding punishment -considered a very basic and egocentric form of moral reasoning Conventional Morality-regards social conventions and rules for appropriate moral behaviour -directives from parents, teachers, and the law are used as guidelines for moral behaviour Postconventional Morality-considers rules and laws as relative -right and wrong are determined by more abstract principles of justice -ability to think abstractly Adulthood and Aging -no biological event that marks the transition from adolescence to young adulthood -in the United States, turning eighteen years old is an arbitrary threshold, but many don’t take on full adult responsibilities -largely determined by sociocultural norms and expectations about establishing a long-term relationship Young Adulthood spans from eighteen to forty years old Middle Adulthood spans form forty to sixty-five years old Older Adulthood spans from sixty-five years and onward -most obvious signs of age-related physical changes in adulthood typically appear at middle adulthood such as weight gain, thinning and graying of hair-> for healthy adults they are typically easy to manage Menopause-termination of the menstrual cycle and reproductive ability -approximately fifty years old-> depends on environmental factors -some symptoms are a significant reduction in the hormone estrogen, hot flashes, and a reduced sex drive -severity of symptoms vary widely among individuals -men don’t experience a physical change as drastic as menopause during middle adulthood, but testosterone production, and sexual motivation typically slow in middle age -brain, like other physical systems, show normal structural changes and some decline in functioning with age-> includes reduced volume of white and gray matter in the cerebral cortex and memory-processing hippocampus Neruodenerative Conditions-characterized by significant loss of nerve cells and nervous system functioning -aging puts people at great risk for it Dementia-set of symptoms including middle to severe disruption of mental function, memory loss, disorientation, poor judgment, and decision making -severe impairments in two or more cognitive domains, as well as functional decline -development of multiple cognitive deficits manifested by both (1) memory impairment (impaired ability to learn new information or to recall previously learned information) (2) one (or more) of the following cognitive disturbances: (a)
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