CHAPTER 2: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT AND LANGUAGE
Development: certain changes that occur in humans or animals between conception and death. These changes appear in orderly
ways and remain for a long period of time.
Physical development: physiological changes
Social/emotional development: refers to how individuals relate to others as well to an individuals’ personality and emotional
Cognitive development: changes in thinking
Today, the environment is seen as critical but so are biological factors and individual differences
Some psychologists assert that behaviours are 100% determined by biology and 100% determined by environment, they cannot
Current views emphasize joint actions between nature and nurture
Shape of Development
Continuous: would be like gradual improvement in your running endurance through systematic exercise
Discontinuous: would be like many changes that occur in humans during puberty such as the ability to reproduce
Piaget’s theory of cognitive development is an example of qualitative, discontinuous change in thinking abilities
Other explanations of cognitive development emphasize gradual continuous change
Timing and Development
Later experiences are just as powerful as earlier ones and can change the direction of development
Sensitive periods: times when a person is ready for or responsive to certain experiences
Most psychologists today see human development, learning and motivation as a set of interacting, coacting contexts, from the
inner biological structures and processes that influence development such as genes, cells, nutrition and disease to the external
factors of families, neighbourhoods, social relationships, educational and health institutions, historical events (etc).
Principles of Development
1. People develop at different rates
2. Development is relatively orderly
3. Development takes place gradually
The Brain and Development
Neurons: tiny structures that store and transmit information. Neuron cells send out long arm and branch like fibres called axons
and dendrites to connect with other neuron cells. They share information by releasing chemicals that jump across tiny spaces,
called synapses between the fibre ends.
o Axons transmit information out to muscles glands and other neurons
o Dendrites receive information and transmit it to the neuron cells themselves
2 Types of Overproduction Processes
1. Experience-expectant: synapses overproduce in certain parts of the brain during certain developmental periods awaiting
2. Experience-dependent: synaptic connections are formed based on the individual’s experiences. New synapses are formed in
response to neural activity in very localized areas of the brain when the individual is not successful in processing information.
More synapses are produced than will be kept after pruning
Stimulating environments may help in the pruning process in early life (experience-expectant) and support increased synapse
development in adulthood (experience-dependent).
Cerebral cortex: develops more slowly than other parts of the brain and parts of the cortex mature at different rates.
The part that controls motor movement matures first, followed by the areas that control complex senses such as vision, hearing,
and then the frontal lobe that control higher order thinking processes.
The temporal lobes that play major roles in emotion and language creation do not develop fully until high school years and
potentially later years.
Lateralization: specialization of the two hemispheres of the brain cortex
Basic Tendencies in Thinking
Organization: ongoing process of arranging information and expereicne into mental systems/categories
o Schemes: basic building blocks of thinking
Adaptation: adjustment to the environment
o Assimilation: fitting new information into existing schemes
o Accommodation: altering existing schemes or creating new ones in response to new information
Equilibration: search for a mental balance between cognitive schemes and information from the environment
o Disequilibrium: out of balance
4 Stages of Cognitive Development
1. Infancy: Sensorimotor Stage involves the senses as well as motor activity
o Object permanence: understanding that objects have a separate, permanent existence
o Goal-directed actions: deliberate actions towards a goal 2. Early Childhood: Preoperational Stage Stage of development before a child masters logical mental operations
o Semiotic function: ability to use symbols—language, pictures, signs/gestures to represent actions or objects mentally
o Reversible thinking: thinking backwards—from the end to the beginning
o Conservation: principle that some characteristics of an object remain the same despite changes in appearance
o Decentring: f