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Chapter 6

PSYCH211 Chapter Notes - Chapter 6: Computer Hardware, Jean Piaget, Long-Term Memory

Course Code
Heather Henderson

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Chapter 6: Cognition in infants and Toddlers
6.1 Piaget’s theory
first years of a child’s life, up to 6 years form the most fundamental time in terms
of brain development
child’s brain develops as a result of repeated stimulation to sensory pathways
and synaptic connections in the brain
early levels of stimulation can affect a children’s later levels of capacity in terms
of both cognitive ability and biological functioning
Jean Piaget – research in developmental psych by experimenting on children
Intelligent behaviour as resulting from a child’s attempt to adapt to the
Basic Principles of Piaget’s Theory
-For Piaget, children:
-Are like scientists, they create theories about how the world works
-Try making sense of their experience
-Theories are incomplete
-Valuable theories because make the world seem more predictable
-Development results from their active engagement with their experiences in the
-Enables them to reach more advanced levels of maturation
-Both experience and maturation important in Piagetian theory
-Schemas – psychological structures that organize experience
-Schemas are mental categories or conceptual models of interrelated events,
object, and knowledge that children build as they gain experience with situations,
people, and objects around them
-Example: for infants, most schemas are based on an infant’s own actions
-How aspects of their world relate to each other – collect this together in schemas
Assimilation & Accommodation
-Children’s schemas change with increasing experience and assimilation and
-Assimilation – occurs when new experiences are incorporated into existing
schemas. Example: children learns about the world, and applies to a new
-Example: child learns to grasp a toy and discovers this grasping schema will
work on other toys too
-Accommodation – schemas are modified based on experience.
-Example: learns that some objects must be lifted with 2 hands and some cant be
lifted at all
Equilibration and stages of cognitive development
-Assimilation and accommodation are usually in balance or equilibrium

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-Can readily assimilate most experiences into their existing schemas, but
occasionally they need to accommodate their schemas to adjust to new
-Disequilibrium- more accommodation than assimilation
-Equilibration – restoring balance – child reorganizes their schemas
-Children discover flaws in their theories and they alter their theories so they can
develop more accurate schemas. 2, 7 and 11 years of age
-Cognitive development into 4 stages
-Sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operations and formal operations
Sensorimotor Stage
-Infants perceptual and motor skills improve quickly throughout the first year
-Infant’s cognitive understanding of the world through simple and later complex
-Develop schemas based on reflex actions to symbolic processing in an orderly
-6 substages
-after schemas become based primarily on functional or conceptual relationships,
not sensorimotor actions
Substage 1: exercise reflexes ( birth to 1 mon)
-reflex responses to stimuli
-reflexes become more coordinated behaviour
Substage 2 : learning to adapt ( 1 to 4 mon)
-reflexes modified by experiences
-primary circular reaction – when infants use their own bodies to accidently
produce a pleasing event and then try to recreate the event
Substage 3: making interesting events (4-8mon)
-infants show greater interest in the world, objects become incorporated into
circular reactions
-secondary circular reactions – novel actions that are repeated with objects
-learning about sensations and actions associated with objects
Substage 4: using means to achieve ends ( 8-12 mon)
-onset of deliberate, intentional behaviour because the means (action/method)
and end (goal) of activities become distinct
-example: moving dads hands schema is the means to achieve the goal of
grasping the toy
Substage 5: Experimenting ( 12-18mon)
-active experimenter with new objects
-tertiary circular reactions – infant repeat old schemas with objects, as if trying to
understand why diff objects yield diff outcomes
-example: shake diff objects to determine which produce sounds and which do not
-example: dropping toys for the diff sounds created
Substage 6: mental representation ( 18-24 mon)
-think about what is happening around them without having to physically explore a

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-more able to mentally work through simple problems that present themselves to
the child
-make believe play due to
-deferred imitation – childrens ability to imitate actions that they have observed
at an earlier time
-beginning to work with symbols, such as words and gestures to form an internal
mental representation of their world
-ability to mentally represent the world internally marks the end of sensorimotor
Evaluating Piaget’s Account of sensorimotor thought
-researchers have found other ways to explain children’s performance on
Piagetian tasks.
-Piaget thought that a fundamental task of infancy was mastering object
permanence – understanding that objects exist independently of oneself and
one’s actions
-1 – 4 months believe that objects no longer exist when they are not in view
-Investigators questioned piaget because the 8-10 months will look under correct
container if the interval between hiding and looking is brief, and if containers are
easily distinguishable from each other
-So if infants are unsuccessful, they might be showing poor memory rather than
inadequate understanding of the nature of the objects
-Also, investigators have shown that babies understand objects much earlier than
piaget claimed
-Disappearance and reappearance of the box violates the idea that objects exist
permanently. Child who understands the permanence of objects finds this
impossible event a truly novel stimulus and look at it longer than the possible
-4 ½ month looked at the impossible event longer like it was a magic show which
means that infants have some understanding of object permanence in the first
year of life
The child as Theorist
-child’s theories are naïve theories
-they are not created by specialists and are not evaluated by formal
-valuable in allowing children to understand new experiences and predict future
-child formulates a grand, comprehensive theory that attempts to explain an
enormous variety of phenomena
-develop specialized theories about narrow areas
-first ones based on biology and physics
Naïve physics
-infants learn a lot about the properties of objects
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