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Chapter 2

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PSYC 3800
Jen Lasenby- Lessard

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 understanding  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 be separated  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 stimulation 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
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