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Chapter 6

Chapter 6 - Child's Growth - Brain, Body, Motor Skills, and Sexual Maturation

Course Code
Mark Schmuckler

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Brain Development in Infancy
Cerebrum is the two connected hemispheres of the brain
Cerebral cortex is the covering layer of the cerebrum, in charge of seeing,
hearing, moving, and thinking
Neurons are cells in the body with axons and dendrites sending and
receiving neural impulses
Neuron proliferation is the rapid development of neurons in the
brain at about 250 000 new neurons per minute
Glial cells surround and protect neurons, providing nutrients and repairing
Myelination is the process by which glial cells encase neurons with
Neural migration is the movement of neurons within the brain that ensures
all brain areas have a sufficient number of neural connections
Absence of sufficient connections can lead to complications like mental
Synapses are the connections in between neurons
Synaptogenesis is the forming of synapses, beginning early in pre-
natal life
Neuronal death is the death of neurons
Synaptic pruning is the process in which the brain disposes of axons and
dendrites of a neuron not used often
Sequential Development of the Brain:
Baby shows reflexive behaviour (rooting, startle responses)
voluntary movement (reaching, crawling) purposeful movement
(effort to make contact with an object)
Hemispheric Specialization:
Brain hemispheres are the two halves of the brain
Corpus collosum are the set of nerve fibres connecting the two
hemispheres of the brain
Hemispheric specialization is the different functioning
responsibilities of either hemisphere; speech and language are
controlled by the left hemisphere, and visual-spatial processing is
controlled by the right
Right hemisphere is in charge of: visual-spatial information, non-
speech sounds (music), and perception of faces (this includes
processing of facial emotions like happiness or sorrow)
Left hemisphere is in charge of: processing of language
Lateralized is the idea that one half of the hemisphere is in charge of
certain processes
One example is that the left hemisphere is in charge of speech
sounds and the right is in charge of non-speech sounds
Dyslexia is the difficulty people experience in learning how to read
Some researchers proposed that people process spatial
information in both hemispheres instead of just one, which is
why they encounter difficulties
Plasticity is the capacity of the brain’s neural structure to respond to
input from the environment (the idea of the brain developing through
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the environment—if you have no visual stimulus, your retinas will not
develop properly)
Recall that one set of rats were placed in a novel cage with lots
of light, new toys daily, etc., and a second set of rats were
placed in a dimly lit empty
The rats that were in the novel stimulus had
measurements of heavier brains after 3 months than the
set of rats in the regular, less interactive cage
Someone who is blind usually has deficient development
of the cortical areas
People who have more enriched, consistent novel stimuli have
increased number of developed dendrites and neurons
Just like how stimulation can enrich the brain, lack of stimulation
or traumatic events can damage the brain or cause it to
abused children have brain centers 20-30% than average
Motor Development
Reaching and Grasping:
Pre-reaching is when infants prematurely swipe around, flailing their
arms around in an attempt to get something
Directed reaching is when infants can actually succeed in reaching
AND grasping objects
4-month-old infants tend to determine grasping techniques (using the
whole hand, using 2 fingers, etc.) through touching, 8-month-old
infants use their vision to pre-shape their hands
This shows increased evidence that the environment plays a role
in an infant’s development
An infant goes through 3 main stages: When an infant is provided with
a surface and is held up-right, and her feet touches the floor, she will
show reflexive movement to mimic walking
2nd stage: after 2 months, the baby stops this reflexive motion,
and can begin to walk WITH SUPPORT
3rd stage: at about 1 year, the baby shows mature, independent
How Locomotion may Affect other Aspects of Development:
Infants who are blind or cannot see as well fail to develop locomotion
as well as infants with regular vision
infants who are blind cannot explore the world and seek out
Infants who are blind also lose spatial sense—recall that blind
children who were told to hide either themselves, a part of
themselves, or an object, did not fully understand that they had
to obscure the whole thing and point-of-view perception
Impaired vision is not limited to loss of spatial sense, but
also cognitive and developmental abilities
An electronic device which produces echoes from nearby
objects (kind of like a radar, I guess) helped blind children
map out and develop a better spatial sense
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