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Chapter 9

PSYC 351 Chapter 9.docx

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PSYC 351

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Cognitive Development: The Information-Processing Approach I.The nature of the information-processing approach -Thinking is information processing. The information to be processed can take many forms across different contexts and developmental levels. The processing can also take many forms, depending on the demands of the task: attention to critical features, insertion into a conceptual category, and comparison with past memory input. The IP has become a common approach to understand intelligence, emotional processing, behaviour in children and adolescent antisocial behaviour. Two metaphors help us understand the IP approach: The flowchart metaphor and computer metaphor. -The Flowchart Metaphor This theory deals with memory Starting point: some environmental input; End point: response output Between stimulus and response, a number of psychological processes intervene to interpret and code the environmental input and transform it into mental information that can be used to initiate response outputs. In the case of Memory, the initial input is assumed to be acted on and transformed in various ways. For example, 6 year old hears a word for the first time. Word enters auditory register------> literal representation of the stimlus is held for a second at most--------->word moves to short-term (working memory), which is the centre for active and conscious processing------>word may be transferred to long term memory where it can exist indefinitely. More general psychological processes also play a role: Control processes affect the maintenance of information and the movement from one store to another. Response generating mechanism- necessary to explain the eventual overt response (i.e. the child's ability to say a recently learned word) Information is acted on, or processed, in various ways as it moves through the system The external stimulus and the external response are only the end points. The IP theorists' goal is to specify what comes between stimulus and response. The goal of neuropsychologist and neuroscientists is to specify the brain and neural substrates through which the information processing occurs -The Computer Metaphor Humans and computers are alike in a number of ways: Both store representations or symbols and manipulate these symbols to solve problems. Both perform a variety of such manipulations very rapidly in a powerful fashion. Both are limited in the amount of information they can store and manipulate. Both can learn from experience and modify their rule systems in a progressively adaptive direction. The computer simulation: programming a computer to perform a cognitive task in the same way in which humans are thought to perform it. An information processing method for testing theories of underlying processes. They provide a powerful method for testing theories of underlying process and its development. Limitation: simulations are static. They tell us what cognitive system is like at one point in development. They don't model the developmental change in cognition. Each computer simulation of development includes a set of rules intended to model the starting point level of understanding of a child. They also include mechanisms for changing the initial rules in response to experience. The forms of knowledge for which change has been successfully modelled include conservation, transitivity, physical reasoning and arithmetic Connectionism: creation of artificial neural networks, embodied in computer programs, that solve cognitive tasks and modify their solutions in response to experience. A methodological and theoretical approach. The units of interconnected neurons are arranged in layers: input layers, output layer. Some have a hidden layer representing the info used to execute the task. Connections vary in strength or weights. When the amount of activation received from its connecting units is sufficient, a unit fires. Sum of activated units= response to the task Neural networks are programmed to change or learn with experience. The network uses feedback on the accuracy of each output to modify onnection strengths -Microgenetic Studies Microgenetic study begins with the selection of a sample of children who are thought to be in a transitional phase for the knowledge being studied; they are close to moving to a higher level of understanding Goal: observe the changes as the change occurs The children are usually observed as they try to solve a variety of problems that assess the abilities of interest It`s like a movie, whereas longitudinal study is like a snapshot at different stages Example of a microgenetic study by Siegler and Jenkins Five issues related to cognitive change for which microgenetic techniques can provide valuable data: 1) path of cognitive change, 2) sequence and levels through which children move in acquiring the knowledge, 3) breadth of change: when a new competency is acquired and how narrowly or broadly it is applied, 4) variability in the pattern change: there may be substantial variability en route to the same end point 5) sources of change: the experiences and processes through which new knowledge is constructed -Comparison with Piaget Information processing theorist's stages are more domain specific, more concerned with distinct aspects of development Similarities: Content studied, General theoretical level, Division of development in different stages, though not identical stages (some IP theorists) Differences: PIage`s stages are broad, but IP stages are more domain-specific (more concerned with distinct aspects of development, IP theorists attempt to develop models that are more specific and more complete than those offered by Piaget IP emphasis on precision and testability II. Memory in infancy All IP models rely on a theory of memory. Questions of memory involves how information is taken in , stored, and retrieved, and it is central to the IP modelling of development. In infancy, children begin to construct memories through social interactions and social mediation. Event memory- children develop scripts for sequences of familiar actions or routine events in their daily world Script- A representation of the typical sequence of events in a familiar context. Scripts are the products of constructive memory and can lead to both improved memory and memory distortions Children often resist the attempt to change their script Constructive memory- refers to the ways that individuals interpret the information they take in, in terms of their pre-existing knowledge, which affets what they remember Autobiographical memory- specific, personal, and long-lasting memory about the self. (i.e. first day of sch
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