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Chapter 4


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Elizabeth Johnson

Chapter 4: Infancy: Sensation,Perception,and Learning Notes The Newborn 1.A new baby’s reflexes: • some reflexes are permanent(blinking),while others, such as sucking, are replaced by voluntary behaviours that the baby learns early in life • abnormalities in a baby’s reflexes during the 1st days/weeks after birth can be useful indicators for identifying visual and hearing problems • reflexes that are either weak, absent, unusually strong, or that fail to disappear when expected can be a sign of neurological problems 2. Infant states: • infant state - a recurring pattern of arousal in the newborn, ranging from alert, vigorous, wakeful activity to quiet, regular sleep • infants states tells us some important characteristics of human behaviour: • they indicate that form early in life, human behaviour is organized and predictable • human beings are not passive creatures that merely react to the environment internal forces play a central role in infant states and their changes • a) Sleep: newborn sleeps about 70% of the time in a series of long and short naps during the day and night • • by the time the baby is 8 weeks he/she is sleeping more during the night • infants also become less fussy as they gain better control over their states of arousal • by the end of the 1st year,most infants sleep through the night, which shows that the infant’s internal biorhythms adapt to the demands of the external world • sleeping arrangements and times differ across cultures • co-sleeping arrangements may decrease the risk of SIDS • in newborns, 50% of sleep is REM autostimulation theory - the theory that during REM sleep the infant’s brain stimulates itself and that this,in turn, • stimulates early development of the CNS b) Crying: • earliest means of communicating needs • 3 patterns of crying: • basic - linked to hunger; becomes louder gradually; sequence is cry-rest-inhale-rest • angry - crying segments are longer than the ones in basic pattern; causes include removal of pacifier or toy • pain - sudden,loud from the start, and made up of a long cry followed by a long silence that includes holding of the breath,and then followed by a series of short,gasping inhalations; causes include discomfort from soiled diaper, or stomach pain • mothers can can only distinguish the crying patterns of their own babies • crying in early months=physiological needs; crying after 3/4 months=psychological needs (pick up/play) • colic occurs in about 20% of infants and it usually begins b/w 2 and 4 weeks of age 3.How to soothe and infant: a) Infants’ abilities to soothe themselves: • sucking on the baby’s own thumb may help with soothing • sucking on substances that have sweet taste is more effective than sucking on plain water soothing techniques that work will change as the infant develops • b) How parents soothe their babies: • use of pacifier • rocking,swaddling,and massaging • in swaddling, a baby is wrapped tightly in a blanket/cloth,thus keeping her arms are legs immobile 4. Evaluating the newborn’s healthy and capabilities: • tests of the baby’s reflexes may be combined with other assessment techniques • Brazelton Neonatal Assessment Scale - a scale used to measure an infant’s sensory and perceptual capabilities,motor development,range of states,and ability to regulate these states. The scale also indicates whether the brain and the CNS are properly regulating autonomic responsivity The Infant’s Sensory And Perceptual Capacities • the fact that infant’s sensory and perceptual abilities are especially sensitive to the social environment suggests that babies’ perceptual and sensory systems may be biologically prepared to processes and respond to social stimuli • for full list of abilities see chart on pg. 130 1.Unlocking the secrets of babies’ sensory capabilities: • to study an infant’s sensory capabilities researchers have relied on information from the ANS(heart rate and breathing) • visual preference method - a method of studying infants’ abilities to distinguish one stimulus from another by measuring the length of time they spend attending to different stimuli • habituation - the process by which an individual reacts with less and less intensity to a repeatedly presented stimulus, eventually responding only faintly or not at all 2. Hearing: • for newborns,sounds must be louder than the sound that an adult can detect compared to adults, babies are less sensitive to low-pitched sounds • • babies are able of auditory localization • culture specific experience enhances their ability to process one type of musical scale over another the human auditory system may also be programmed for special sensitivity to the sound of human voices • • 2 days old babies prefer to hear the human voice over other sounds • babies learn do discriminate b/w voices very quickly 3.Vision: how babies see their worlds: a) The clarity of infant’s vision: • vision of infants under 1 month of age ranges from 20/200 to 20/800 • visual acuity seems to be within the normal adult range by the time a child is b/w 6 months and a year old b) How babies perceive colour: • babies can perceive some aspects of colour early in life • babies can clearly distinguish among colours by 3/4 months of age • early visual experience may be essential for normal colour perception to develop c) How babies perceive patterns: • both learning and experience are required to see patterns in an adult manner • certain elements of complex pattern attract a newborn’s attention, but we can’t conclude that babies this young perceive whole form • by 3 months, babies are also almost as good as adults in picking unified petters out of generalized movement • infants from 3-5 months old can extract a human figure’s structure from information about its motion, but they don’t seem to recognize the form of a person until they are around 9 months of age d) A preference for faces: • our innate preferences for human faces helps babies’ development in perceiving faces • newborns as young as 30 minutes old show a preference for images that are face-like as compared to images that are not face-like • also there is a neural system that supports the rapid learning of faces e) Depth perception: • the eyes of newborns move in the same direction only about half the time,so they myst rely on depth and distance cues that are available to each eye independently • depth perception improves with age,as eye coordination develops and more cues to depth and distance become available to the infant by 3-5 months babies can coordinate their 2 eyes,so they begin to see depth as adults do • • stereoscopic vision - the sense of a 3rd spatial dimension produced by the brain’s fusion(perception of depth) of the separate images contributed by both eyes,each of which reflects the stimulus from a slightly different angle f) Size and shape constancy: • size constancy tends to be present at birth as the child’s binocular vision develops, recognition of size constancy improves • • by 3 months babies show that they relate image growth to decreasing distance by blinking when the “moving” object seems to be on a collision course with them • some argue that shape constancy could be present at birth 4. Smell, taste, and touch: • infants can discriminate odours - they show “appropriate” facial expressions in response to odours • breast-fed babies come to learn and prefer the overall scent of their own mothers • newborns also respond selectively to different tastes • the more varied the mother’s diet,the more likely it is that offspring will consume novel foods after weaning • sense of touch might be one of the first senses to evolve • skin has the most touch receptors, and this may explain why newborns like to suck their fingers • newborns are more sensitive to pain than older adults • higher blood cortisol levels after a stressful situation is evidence that infants are sensitive to pain 5.Intermodal perception: How infants coordinate sensory information: • intermodal perception - the use of sensory information from more than one modality to identify a stimulus • there isn’t a reliable evidence of intermodal perception of vision and touch by about 3-4 months,although there are still limitations in this ability up to at least 6 months Early Learning And Memory 1.Classical and operant conditioning: • babies as young as 2 hours old were classically conditioned in one study • babies can also learn through operant conditioning 2. Learning through imitation: • to be learned, the behaviour has to be experienced by the infant • infants are able to learn without any over reward or punishment • by about 9 months, babies become capable of genuine imitation •these babies can imitate a series of modeled behaviours immediately and after an interval of 24 hours with no opportunity for practice
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