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Chapter 9


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Mark Schmuckler

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CHAPTER 9 COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT: THE INFORMATION- PROCESSING APPROACH INFORMATION PROCESSING THORY -the human cognition system is like a computer -primary quality is its flexibility -two main limitations are the amount of information that it can possess at one time and the speed with which is processes this information -vast problem solving potential Basic Assumptions of the Information- Processing Model -first, thinking is information processing -second, assumption that there are mechanisms or processes of change that underlie the processing of information -assumes that cognitive development is a self- modifying process; that the child uses strategies she has acquired from earlier problem solutions to modify her responses to a new problem -assumption that careful task analysis is crucial; that the task itself influences the child’s own level of development -error analysis: attending to errors made -analysis on this is called microgenetic analysis: a very detailed examination of how a child solves a problem Information- Processing Models The Multi-Store Model -describes how information enters and flows through the mind as it is processed -many steps; helpful diagram on page 342 fig. 9.1 -first get input from environment -then goes to sensory register: info is stored in original form but very briefly; 1 second, doesn’t change over development -then goes to short term (working) memory: info in the sensory is transformed (or encoded) into a mental representation and placed in here; without effort info is lost within 30 sec; can use rehearsal to keep it longer -then goes to long term memory: knowledge that is retained for a long period of time; in there for an indefinite period of time Connectionist Models -describes mental processes in terms of the interconnections of the neural network -parallel distributed processing -interested in how these neural connections are organized, how they change over the course of development and how different connections are activated as the child thinks and solves problems Neo- Piagetian Information- Processing Models -attempt to integrate Piaget’s ideas with that of an information- processing perspective -Robbie Case divides development into 4 stages -each stage entails an executive control structure: mental blueprint or plan for solving a class of problems -has three components: representation of the problem, representation of the goal of the problem, and representation of a strategy for attaining the goal -four stages listed on page 344 table 9.1 Cognitive Processes: What are They? How Do They Contribute to Development? Encoding and Representation -we only encode (or change into mental representations) if the info we take in is relevant -mental representation: term used to describe information that is stored mentally in some form; it depends on the child’s understanding that one thing can stand for or “represent” something else -representation called a script: reflects a particular event or series of events that are based on common experiences of daily life; used to understand new events and to generate predictions about how those events will unfold Strategies -are conscious cognitive or behavioural activities that are used to enhance mental performance -main purpose of strategy is to decrease the load on the child’s information- processing system by increasing the efficiency of each process and thus freeing up time for tasks necessary for solving the problem Automatization -involves making behaviours that once were conscious and controlled in to unconscious and automatic ones -like learning to drive standard or riding a bike Generalization -the application of a strategy learned while solving a problem in one situation to a similar problem in a new situation The Roles of the Executive Control Process and the Knowledge Base in Information Processing -the executive control process guides the child in the selection and use of such strategies that are most effective for the task at hand -the child’s knowledge base plays a large part in their ability to process information and solve problems -in the chess players experiment, it was found that young chess players recalled more chess-piece moves than adults, and they needed less trials than adults to reach perfect recall DEVELOPMENTAL CHANGES IN SOME SIGNIFICANT COGNITIVE ABILITIES -consider the abilities linked to information- processing approach; all discussed below 1)Attention -identification and selection of particular sensory input for more detailed processing -hard to control their attention when they are young Control of Attention -children as young as 42 months (3 ½ years) may be less distractible when an activity fully engages their attention -distraction can sometimes facilitate children’s performance -turning points table pg 349 summarizes Learning to Attend to What Is Relevant -to learn, child must learn the strategy of selective attention, ignoring irrelevant features in the environment -processing of irrelevant information increases slightly until 11/12 then declines -overall children show increasing efficiency in how they use attention in processing information Attention and Planning -older children have better attentional skills because they develop a plan of action to guide their attention as they solve problems -planning -study by Elaine Vurpillot; choosing which houses are identical (different pictures in the windows); found that younger children looked randomly at the windows and made judgments without even looking at windows that were different -planning is often done in social situations -learning about the thinking of another appears to enhance the child’s own understanding of the problem 2)Memory -memory & knowledge are interchangeable -short term (working) and long term -semantic memory: factual info; like knowing about the history of a town -episodic memory: memory for specific events; like your birthday; typically autobiographical -act of remembering can be intentional or non intentional -usually nonintential; like already knowing how to speak when you open your mouth to talk -intentional memory, or explicit memory, require effort to store and retrieve -rehearsal, organization, and elaboration all help -three areas of memory that improve with development are listed below 1)Basic Capacities -include the amount of info that can be held in working memory (memory span) etc Memory Span -memory span for numbers is about 8 for uni students, 6-7n for 12 year olds, and 4 for 5 year olds -memory span increases as you age and younger children can remember more things if they are interested in it -adults have a bigger memory span because they know more strategies to remember the items Processing Efficiency -with practice, the child can remember things better -increasing efficiency because of streamlining executive control structures and biological maturation (like myelination of axons in important brain areas to increase firing rates) Processing Speed -time it takes an individual to carry out a given mental act -connected with processing efficiency -processing speed is not simply due to practice -with development, speed increases 3)Memory Strategies -people use a wide variety of strategies to remember -children often use more than one strategy at a time Rehearsal -to repeat the information mentally or out loud to help remember -one of the easiest strategies -the spontaneous use of rehearsal to aid memory increases with age -found that children who used spontaneous rehearsal could remember more items -young children likely to rehearse each item as it is given to them; older more likely to rehearse each item in a group Organization -ordering information to be remembered by means of c
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