Module 14: Infancy and Childhood
Maturation: the orderly sequence of biological growth.
Severe deprivation or abuse can retard development, yet the genetic growth
tendencies are inborn. Maturation (nature) sets the basic course of development;
experience (nurture) adjusts it.
o Brain Development:
- In your mother’s womb, your brain formed nerve cells at a rate of nearly
one-quarter million per minute. The developing brain cortex actually
- From infancy on, brain and mind develop together.
- On the day you were born, you had most of the brain cells you would
- After birth, the branching neural networks that eventually enabled you
to walk, talk, and remember had a wild growth spurt.
- From ages 3 to 6, the most rapid growth was in your frontal lobes, which
enable rational planning.
- The association areas – those linked with thinking, memory, and
language- are the last cortical areas to develop. As they do, mental
- A “use it or lose it” pruning process shits down unused links and
o Motor Development:
- The developing brain enables physical coordination. As an infant’s
muscles and nervous system mature, skills emerge.
- 25 % of babies walk by age 11 months, 50% within a week after their
first birthday, and 90% by age 15 months.
- Genes guide motor development; identical twins begin walking on nearly
the same day.
- Maturation creates our readiness to learn walking at about age one.
o Brain Maturation and Infant Memory:
- Our earliest memories seldom predate our third birthday.
- Other studies confirm that the average age of earliest conscious memory
is 3.5 years.
- As children mature, from 4 to 6 to 8 years, childhood amnesia is giving
way, and they become increasingly capable of remembering experiences,
even for a year or more.
- The brain areas underlying memory, such as the hippocampus and
frontal lobes, continue to mature into adolescence.
- Although we consciously recall little from before age 4, our brain was
processing and storing information during those early years.
- Traces of forgotten childhood languages may persist.
- What the conscious mind does not know and cannot express in words,
the nervous system somehow remembers Cognitive Development.
Cognition refers to all the mental activities associated with thinking, knowing,
remembering, and communicating.
Piaget’s studies led him to believe that a child’s mind develops through a series of
stages, in an upward march from the newborn’s simple reflexes to the adult’s
abstract reasoning power.
Piaget’s core idea is that the driving force behind out intellectual progression is an
unceasing struggle to make sense of our experiences.
To this end, the maturing brain builds schemas, a concept or framework that
organizes and interprets information.
By adulthood, we have built countless schemas.
To explain how we adjust our schemas, Piaget proposed to more concepts: first, we
assimilate new experiences- we interpret our new experiences in terms of our
existing schemas. We also have to accommodate our schemas by adapting our
current understandings (schemas) to incorporate new information.
o Piaget’s 5 Stages of Development:
1. Sensorimotor Stage
- The stage from birth to about 2 years of age during which infants know
the world mostly in terms of their sensory impressions and motor
- Very young babies seem to live in the present: out of sight, out of mind.
Young infants lack object permanence.
- Object permanence: the awareness that things continue to exist even
when not perceived.
- By 8 months, infants began exhibiting memory for things no longer seen.
2. Preoperational Stage
- The stage from about 2 to 6 or 7 years of age, during which a child learns
to use language but does not yet comprehend the mental operations of
- Before age 6, children lack the concept of conservation: the principle that
quantity remains the same despite changes in shape.
Egocentrism: in Piaget’s theory, the preoperational child’s difficulty
taking another’s point of view.
Theory of mind: people’s ideas about their own and other’s mental
states- about their feelings, perceptions, and thoughts, and the
behaviors these might predict.
3. Concrete Operational Stage
- The stage of cognitive development from ages 6 or 7 to 11 years of age
during which children gain the mental operations that enable them to
think logically about concrete events.
- Piaget believed that during the concrete operational stage, children
become able to comprehend mathematical transformations and
4. Formal Operational Stage
- The stage of cognitive development, usually around age 12, during which
people begin to think logically about abstract concepts. Social Development
From birth, babies in all cultures are social creatures, developing an intense bond
with their caregivers.
At about 8 months, soon after object permanence emerges and children become
mobile, a curious thing happens: they develop stranger anxiety.
Stranger anxiety: the fear of strangers that infants commonly display, beginning by
about 8 months of age.
The brain, the mind, and social-emotional behavior develop together.
o Origins of Attachment
- No social behavior is more striking than the intense and mutual infant-
- This attachment bond is a powerful survival impulse that keeps infants
close to their caregivers.
- Infants become attached to those who are comfortable and familiar.
- Contact is one key to attachment. Another is familiarity.
- In many animals, attachments based on familiarity form during a critical
period – an optimal period when certain events must take place to
facilitate proper development.
- Imprinting: the process by which certain animals form attachments
during a critical period very early in life.
o Attachment Differences
- Sensitive, responsive mothers- those who noticed what their babies
were doing and responded appropriately- had infants who exhibited
- Insensitive, unresponsive mothers often had infants who were
- Some babies are born difficult- irritable, intense and unpredictable.
- Some babies are born easy- cheerful, relaxed, and feeding and eating on
- Erikson believed that securely attached children approach life with a
sense of basic trust- a sense that the world is predictable and reliable.
o Deprivation of Attachment
- If secure attachment nurtures social competence, what happens when
circumstances prevent a child from forming attachments?
- Babies locked away at home under conditions of abuse or extreme
neglect are often withdrawn, frightened, even speechless.
- Most children growing up under adversity are resilient; they become
- So do most victims of childhood sexual abuse.
- But others, especially those who experience no sharp break from their
abusive past, don’t bounce back so readily.
- A primate experiment confirmed the abuse-breeds-abuse phenomenon;
in one study, 9 or 16 females who had been abused by their mothers became abusive parents, as did no female raised by a non-abusive
- In humans too, the unloved may become the unloving. Most abusive
parents-and many condemned murderers- have reported being
neglected or battered as children.
- Although most abused children do not later become violent criminals or
abusive parents, extreme early trauma may nevertheless leave
footprints on the brain.
o Parenting Styles
- Authoritarian: parents impose rules and expect obedience.
- Permissive: parents submit to their children’s desires. They make few
demands and little punishment.
- Authoritative: parents are both demanding and responsive. They exert
control by setting rules and enforcing them, but also explain reasons for
Module 15: Adolescence
Primary sex characteristics - the reproductive organs and external genitalia
Secondary sex characteristics – the non-reproductive traits such as breasts,
If a boy develops early, are usually stronger and more athletic, more popular,
self-assured, but at more risk for alcohol use, delinquency, and premature
Girls developing early – if hormone-fed feeling out of sync with her emotional
maturity, or friends’ physical dev’p she may begin associating with older
adolescents or may suffer teasing
In puberty, brain stops “rewiring” new neural connections, instead it
“prunes” getting rid of unused connections
Frontal Lobe continues to develop.
Myelin, fatty tissue that forms around axons and speeds NT, enables better
communication with other brain regions bring better judgment, impulse
control, and long-term planning speeds up nerve conduction
Makes early adolescence the BEST TIME TO LEARN!!
Frontal lobe lags behind Limbic System
Developing Reasoning Power
Jean Piaget: Formal Operations: applying new abstract reasoning tools to the
world around them
Have a greater understanding of the world and deeper meaning of things –
can lead to debates with parents
Piaget & Kohlberg: moral reasoning guides moral actions Much of functioning occurs not on the “high road” or deliberate, conscious
thinking, but on the “low road” of unconscious automatic thinking
Piaget: children’s moral judgments build on their cognitive development
Kohlberg: agreeing with Piaget, sought to describe the development of
moral reasoning, the thinking that occurs as we consider right and wrong
Proposed moral dilemmas (steal medicine to save life), and asked
children, teens, and adults whether action was right/wrong
Findings proposed 3 basic levels of moral thinking: preconventional,
conventional, and postconventional
Form a moral ladder (critics noted postconventional stage is culturally
limited, appearing mostly among ppl who prize individualism)
Jonathan Haidt: much of our morality is rooted in moral intuitions –
quick gut feelings or affectively laden intuitions
Mind makes moral judgments as it makes aesthetic judgments –
quickly and automatically (feel disgust when seeing ppl do degrading
Ex. 5 ppl will be killed by a trolley but you can turn a switch to make it
only kill 1 – Kill 1 save 5, most ppl said yes. But when the option of
pushing that one person onto the track in order to save them, they said
Erikson contended that each stage of life had its own psychosocial task – a
crisis that needs resolution
Young children: trust, autonomy (independence), then initiative
School aged: strive for competence, feeling able and productive
Adolescence: to synthesize past, present, and future possibility into a clearer
sense of self search for identity
Forming an Identity
Adolescence try out different “selfs” in different situations
Social identity often forms around their distinctiveness
not always! Erikson noticed that some forge their identity early, simply
by adopting their parent’s values and expectations – or other peer groups
(jocks, preps, geek, goth)
Young Americans’ self esteem falls in early-late teens, and rebounds
during late teens – early 20’s
Erikson contended that the adolescent identity stage is flowed in young
adulthood by developing capacity for intimacy – forming emotionally
Those who enjoy high-quality relationships with family and friends tend
to enjoy high quality romantic relationships, and leads to better
adulthood Foreclosure: defying parents or peers
Parent and Peer Relationships
Girls with affectionate relationships with mothers enjoy intimate friendships
Teens close to parents do better in school and are healthy and happy
Today, <1/2 of 30 year old women and 1/3 of men have achieved either
finishing school, leaving home, become financially independent, married, or
have a child
Later independence and earlier sexual maturity have widened teenage years
Emerging adulthood: between 18 and mid 20’s
Module 23 – Studying and Building Memories
Memory- learning that has persisted overtime, info stored and can be retrieved
Recall- retrieving info not in your conscious awareness but that was learned
at an earlier time. (fill in the blanks)
Recognition – identifying items previously learned (multiple choice)
Relearning – learning something more quickly when you learn it a second
- father, 92 suffered stroke. Could keep personality, stayed mobile, but memory was
out of place. Couldn’t remember what he had for lunch, or day of week, and kept
forgetting that his brother in law died.
-Russian journalist, Shereshevskii, could repeat up to 70 words back. Most people
can only do 7-9 digits.
Measures of Retention
Three measures of retention: recall, recognition, relearning.
People can recall people if they see their face or names, but otherwise it is hard.
Recognition memory vast and quick – “is your friend wearing a new or old outfit?”
“old”. Our mind knows the answer before we even say it
Relearning – German philosopher Hermann Ebbinghaus, used nonsense syllables in
experiments. Randomly selected sample of syllables, practiced them, and tested
himself. To get a feel, he read them over loudly 8 times and looked away to try to
recall the items. Ebbinghaus’ retention curve – the more times you learn
something, the easier it is to relearn it.
Create memory models to helps us think about how our brain forms and retrieves
memories. Information-processing models = analogies that compare human memory
to a computer’s operations. To remember, we must:
Get information into our brain, (encoding)
Retain information (storage) Later get information back out (retrieval)
Parallel processing = processing many things simultaneously, even unconsciously
Connecionism = an information processing model views memories as products of
interconnected neural networks.
Everytime you learn something new, your brain’s neural connections change,
forming and strengthening pathways that allow you to interact and learn
Model of Memory Formations
Richard Atkinson and Richard Shiffrin (1968)
1. Stimuli recorded by our senses and held briefly in sensory memory
2. Some info processed into short-term memory, encoded through rehearsal
3. Info moves into long-term memory to be retrieved later
**others have updated this model, included newer concepts such as working
memory and automatic processing
Alan Baddeley challenged Atkinson and Shiffrin’s view of short-term memory as a
small, brief storage space for recent thoughts and experiences
It’s an “active desktop” where your brain processes information, making
sense of new input and linking it with long term memories.
Working memory: focusing on active processing that takes place in the middle
- Baddeley suggested the central executive (focuses attention) handles this
focused processing of information
Dual-Track Memory: Effortful Vs Automatic Processing
Atkinson and Shiffrin focused on how we process explicit memories (facts
and experiences we can consciously know and declare) – also declarative
Our mind works on 2 tracks – it processes explicit memories via conscious,
Behind the scenes, other info skips our conscious encoding and goes right
into storage.. automatic processing happens without awareness
produces implicit memories (aka nondelarative memories)
2 track memory system reinforces an important principle of parallel processing:
we split information into different components for separate and simultaneous
Encoding and Automatic Processing
Procedural memory well practiced knowledge like word meaning (riding a
Conditioned associations smell triggers memory of certain places ,
- info about time, going back in time if you lost something - info about frequency, like “this is the 3 driver I’ve passed today”
- info about space, picturing where things are when walking into a room
- immediate very brief recording of sensory info before its processed into
short/long term memory BRIEF! Sensory memory consists of 3-4 seconds
echos, or 1/20 of a second image
**you can retrieve the last 8 words from echoic memory
Iconic Memory: a fleeting sensory memory of visual stimuli (Sperling experiment)
Capacity of Short-Term and Working Memory
- George Miller proposed that short-term memory can retain 7 information
- Lloyd and Margaret Peterson experiment (1959)
- Working memory uses focus, analysis, thinking and linking – greater capacity
than short term
Effortful Processing Strategies:
Chunking: grouping words/letters together to remember easier
**peg word system – a technique of visually associating new words with an
existing list already memorized along with numbers
Hierarchies: developing expertise in an area- seeing what’s more/less important
than the rest
Massed practice (cramming) info all at once in a short period of time
Spacing Effect – spacing out info overtime (Noted by Ebbinghaus late 1800’s)
Distributed Practise produces better long-term recall
- Harry Bahrick experiments found that the longer the space between practice
sessions, the better their retention up to 5 years later
Testing effect – repeated self testing
Levels of Processing
We process verbal information at different levels, and depth affects our long-term
retention. Shallow processing – encodes on a very basic level, Deep processing –
encodes semantically based on the meaning of the words
- Self- reference effect relating material to ourselves/ our lives aids
encoding and retention Module 24: Retaining Information in the Brain
We do not store information like libraries store books, rather many parts of
the brain interact as we encode, store, and retrieve information that forms
When emotions get involved, another part of brain can mark/flag them for
Explicit-Memory System: Frontal Lobes and Hippocampus
Explicit memories: includes frontal lobes and hippocampus
When you summon up a mental encore of past experience, many brain
regions send input to frontal lobes for working memory
Left and right f. lobes process different memories: eg. Recalling a
password=left, calling up party scene=right
Hippocampus acts as “save” button for explicit memories (names, images, and
Left hippocampus damage – trouble remembering verbal info, no trouble
recalling visual designs/locations
Right hippocampus damage – opposite
Subregions of hippocampus also serve different functions: faces, spatial
mnemonics, rear area = spatial memory
Hippocampus switches short term to long term memory (48 hours after) much
done during sleep
Implicit-Memory System: Cerebellum and Basal Ganglia
Woman with brain damage had to get introduced to doctor everyday, but
when he shook hands with a thumbtack, she refused to the next day because
of classical conditioning – she didn’t know why!
Cerebellum forms and stores conditioned responses
Without it, ppl cannot develop certain conditioned responses – implicit
memories needs cerebellum!
**can store responses without even knowing why
Basal Ganglia – controls and forms procedural memory and movement *we
can ride bike even if we don’t remember learning
Implicit memory, like skills and conditioned responses, can be retained from
Explicit memory only goes back to about 3 years old
3 year blank = infantile amnesia
**encoding: memories not stored well because hippocampus is one of the last
brain areas to develop
also, mind thinks in verbal narrative and has trouble recalling preverbal
Flashbulb memory: emotionally intense event remembered, eg 911 Amygdala: helps “tag” important memories if they are of emotional importance
Emotional arousal sears certain events into the brain while disrupting
memory for neutral events around the same time
James Schwartz, Eric Kandel observed synaptic changes during learning in
the sending neurons of the California sea slug
Sea slug classically conditioned via electric shock
With increased synaptic activity, long-term potentiation occurs (signals
sent more efficiently)
After LTP has occurred, passing an electric current through brain wont
disrupt old memories, but will wipe out recent ones
Eg, boxers getting knocked out don’t remember moments before – working
memory didn’t have enough time to consolidate info into long-term
Results in reduction of prompting need to send a signal and increase in the #
of NT receptor sites
Summery: Module 27: Thinking
Concepts: mental groupings of similar objects, events, ideas, and people.
Concepts provide mental shorthand, economizing cognitive efforts
We form concepts by developing prototypes mental image or best example of a
category – the most typical instance
Eg. Robin is more of a bird than penguin because a robin is closer matched to the
bird prototype – the closer something matches, the easier we recognize it
Prototypes fail us when examples stretch our definitions as in considering if
a stool is a chair
Prototypes fail us when the boundary between concepts is fuzzy, as in
judging blue-green colors or computer blended faces
Prototypes fail us when examples contradict our prototypes, such as
considering if a whale is a mammal or if a penguin is a bird
Exemplars – individual