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Chapter 9


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Elizabeth Johnson

Chapter 9: Cognitive Development: The Information-Processing Approach Notes Information-Processing Theory • information-processing approach - the human mind is likened to a computer, processing information from the environment through perception and attention(input), encoding it in memory(storage and retrieval),and applying information to the solution of problems(software) • primary quality of the human cognition system is its flexibility - it can adapt to many different situations • human cognitive system has 2 main limitations: the amount of information that it can process at one time • • the speed with which it can process information 1.Basic assumptions of the information-processing approach: • thinking is information processing - mental activity involves taking information into the mind and operating it in ways that makes it usable • there are mechanisms/processes of change that underlie the processing of information 4 key mechanisms are: encoding,strategy construction,automatization,and generalization • • cognitive development is a self-modifying process - the child uses the strategies she has acquired from earlier problem solutions to modify her responses to a new problem • careful task analysis is crucial • microgenetic analysis - a very detailed examination of how a child solves a problem 2. Information-processing models: a) The multi-store model: • multi-store model - a model of information-processing in which information is depicted as moving through a series of processing units - sensory register, STM, and LTM - in each of which it may be stored,either fleetingly or permanently • sensory register - the mental processing unit that receives information from the environment and stores it freetingly • STM/working memory - the mental processing unit in which information may be stored temporarily; the “workspace” of the mind, where a decision must be made to discard information or transfer it to permanent storage in LTM • LTM - the mental processing unit in which information may be stored permanently and from which it may e later retrieved b) Connectionist models: • connectionist models - information-processing approaches that describe mental processes in terms of the interconnections of the neural network • emphasize the biological components of information processing • psychologists in this approach are interested in how these neural networks are organized, how they change over the course of development, and how different connections are activated as a child thinks and solves problems c) Neo-Piagetian information-processing models: • neo-Piagetian theories - theories of cognitive development that reinterpret Piaget’s concepts from an information- processing perspective • executive control structure - according to Case, a mental blueprint or plan for solving class of problems Case divides development into 4 stages: • • Sensorimotor control structures (birth - 1 and 1/2 years) - infant’s mental representations are linked to their physical movement; executive control structures: combinations of physical objects and motor actions Relational control structures (1 and 1/2 - 5 years) - children’s representations include knowledge of relationships • among objects,people and events; executive control structures: cause-and-effect statements and explicit goal structures Dimensional control structures (5 - 11 years) - children begin to extract significant dimensions from the physical • world; they become able to use logical processes in comparing 2 dimensions • Abstract control structures (11 - 18 and 1/2 years) - building on the dimensional control structures, children begin to use abstract systems of thought that allow them to perform higher-order reasoning tasks and more complex transformation of information 3.Cognitive processes: what are they? How do they contribute to development? • cognitive processes - ways that the human mental system operates on information a) Encoding and representation: • encoding - the transformation of information from the environment into a lasting mental representation • mental representation - information stored in some form(e.g. verbal) in the cognitive system after the person has encountered it in the environment b) Strategies: • strategies - conscious cognitive or behavioural activities that are used to enhance mental performance • main purpose of a strategy is to decrease the load on the child’s information-processing system by increasing the efficiency of each process and, thus, freeing up space for the various tasks necessary for solving the problem c) Automatization: • automatization - the processes of transforming conscious, controlled behaviours into unconscious and automatic ones d) Generalization: • generalization - the application of a strategy learned while solving a problem in one situation to a similar problem in a new situation 4. The roles of executive control process and the knowledge base in information processing: • executive control process - a cognitive process that serves to control, guide, and
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