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PSYC 2450- CH 7.docx

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PSYC 2450
Anneke Olthof

PSYC 2450- CH 7: Sensation, Perception & Learning Sensation- detection of stimuli by the sensory receptors and the transmission of this information to the brain. Perception- process by which we categorize and interpret sensory stimuli Early Controversies About Sensory & Perceptual Development • Empiricists believes children are born as blank slates and we have to learn to interpret everything through experiences- including our senses. (William James) • Nativists say that newborns are born with many abilities already there (Emmanuel Kant, Rene Descartes) Enrichment Theory- (Piaget) theory specifying that we must add to sensory stimulation by drawing on stored knowledge in order to perceive a meaningful world. Differentiation Theory- (Eleanor Gibson) theory specifying that perception involves detecting distinctive features or cues that are contained in the sensory stimulation we receive. Distinctive Features- characteristics of a stimulus that remain constant; dimensions on which two or more objects differ can be discriminated (sometimes called invariances or invariant features) Research Methods Used to Study the Infant’s Sensory and Perceptual Experiences • Researchers have devised methods for understanding what infants might be sensing & perceiving: The Preference Method-method used to gain info about infants’perceptual abilities by presenting two (or more) stimuli and observing which stimulus the infant prefers. • Used to see if infants could discriminate visual patterns- learned that infants prefer patterned stimuli • Shortcoming- if infant shows no preferences, it’s not clear if they failed to discriminate between them or if they found them equally interesting. Habituation- decrease in response to a stimulus that has become familiar through repetition • If infants stop responding to stimuli it tells us that they recognize them • One stimuli is presented until the infant stops responding to it (habituates) & then a second stimulus is presented and if the infant differentiates between the two stimuli he will attend closely to it & show a change in respiration or heart rate: Dishabituation- an increase in responsiveness that occurs when stimulation changes. • Researchers must pay careful attention to the familiarization timeline being presented. The Evoked Potentials Method- an evoked potential is a change in patterning of the brain waves that indicates that an individual detects (senses) a stimulus The High Amplitude Sucking Method- a method of assessing infants’perceptual capabilities that capitalizes on the ability of infants to make interesting events last by varying the rate at which they suck on a special pacifier. • The pacifier enables the infants to exert some control over the stimulus- infant can make the stimulus last by producing higher amplitude sucking (based on baseline sucking) Infant Sensory Capabilities Hearing- • Young infants can hear well- even newborns can discriminate sounds that differ in loudness, direction, duration & frequency • Infants prefer their mother’s voice to others • Sensitive to phonetic contrasts in speech Phonemes- smallest meaningful sound units that make up a spoken language. • Infants less than a week old can detect differences between the vowel sounds i and a. • 3-6 month old infants are better than adults at perceiving certain phonemes not a part of their language- allows them to learnANY language they are exposed to. • They soon learn to recognize words they hear often • Even mild hearing losses may have adverse developmental effects • Otitis Media- common bacterial infection of the middle ear that produced mild to moderate hearing loss. Taste, Smell & Touch- • Babies are born with taste preferences- prefer sweet • They avoid unpleasant smells • Soon come to recognize mother’s odour if they are breastfed • They’re also sensitive to touch, temperature & pain Vision • Least mature of newborn’s capabilities • Changes in brightness will elicit a subcortical pupillary reflex which shows they are sensitive to light • Can discriminate some colours • Tracks moving targets VisualAcuity- a person’s ability to see small objects & fine detail • Don’t see fine detail well- distance vision is about 20/600 • Objects all seem blurry to them because they have trouble accommodating (changing the shape of the lens to bring things into focus) • Improves rapidly over first 6 months Visual Contrast- amount of light/dark transition in a visual stimulus • Infants require more of this to see Visual Perception • Develops quickly in the first year • For the first two months babies are “stimulus seekers” who prefer moderately complex, high contrast targets- preferably ones that move • Between 2-6 months of age they begin to explore visual targets systematically, become increasingly sensitive to movement, and begin to perceive visual forms & recognize faces. • By 9-12 months infants can construct forms from small cues. • Newborns o display some size constancy o they lack ste
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