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Chapter 11

Psy100-Chapter 11.doc

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Chapter 11Human development Human physical developA baby learns to walk without formal teaching Learning to walk progresses along a fixed timeordered sequence characteristic of all humans Parental practices influence how motor skills developEnvironment determines which of the genes you possess become expressedHormones influence the fetus ie lower thyroid hormones greater risk for baby having low IQStressed mothers release stress hormone which can cause low birth weightAndrogens such as testosterone affect sexual orientation and affects behaviors from eye contact to developing a vocabularyMaternal hormones may play an important role in autism a communication and cognitive disorderFirst social smile at 6 weeksThose who sleep on backs crawl much later Teratogens Environmental agents that harm the embryo or fetusie drugs alcohol or illness ie fetal alcohol syndromeBrain Development Promotes LearningNewborns come into the world able to see smell hear taste and respond to touch Although these skills are not fully developed at birth the newborn is capable of processing some sensory stimuli Although newborn infant could not survive on their won they are not completely helpless Newborns have a variety of basic reflexes that aid survivalIe rooting reflex the automatic turning and sucking that infants engage in when a nipple or similar object is near their mouthsEarly brain growth has two important aspects o1 Specific areas within the brain mature and become functionalo2 Regions of the brain learn to communicate with each other through synaptic connectionsOne important way that brain circuits mature is through myelination which begins on the spinal cord during the first trimester and on the brains neurons during the second trimesterMyelination is the brains way of insulating its wires fibers are wrapped with a fatty sheath which increase the speed with which they are able to transmit signalsMyelination occurs in different brain regions at different stages of development and is believed to reflect the maturation of the brainHearing and balance areas are fully myelinated at birth areas involved in abstract thinking do not become fully myelinated until after age 20The myelinated axons form synapses with other neurons The infant brain grows far more of these connections than it will ever useThen something remarkable happens the brain adopts a very strict use it or lose it policyThe connections that are frequently used are preserved those that are not decay and disappearThis process is called synaptic pruning and it occurs in different areas of the brain at different timesOnce connections are established the brain sets about making them more permanent for example through increasing myelinationIn addition to growth that is determined by genetic instruction the brain is also a highly plastic organ Part of its hard wiring includes the ability to adapt to different environments Thought most neurons area largely formed at birth the brains physical development continues growing from 350 grams to 1250 80 of adult brain by age 4This size increase is due to myelination and to new synaptic connections among neuronsChildren who are mho are malnourished not only have less myelination they might also lack the energy to interest with objects and people in their environmentThis lack of stimulation also undermines brain developmentThus although genes provide instructions for the maturing brain how the brain changes during infancy and early childhood is also very much affect by the environment Both nature and nurture matter in how the physical brain growsCritical learning periodsCritical period time in which certain experiences must occur for normal brain developmentIf these skills and knowledge are not acquired during the critical period they cannot be acquired at a later point in developmentStages are periods during which certain connections are most easily made assuming the right stimulus is providedEric Lenneberg Critical period hypothesis theory states that environmental input is important but biology determines when an organism needs to receive particular input in order to make use of it ie Genie was unable to acquire full languageThe specific points in development at which some skills are most easily learned are now referred to as sensitive periodsAttachment promotes survivalAttachment a strong emotional connection that persists over time and across circumstancesPeriod between birth to 1824 months caregivers shape much of an infants early experiencesHumans are born profoundly immature Between 46 weeks of age most infants display their first social smile which typicallyenhances powerful feelings of love and bonding between caregiver and childJohn Bowlby popularized its importance attachment serves to motivate infants and caregivers to stay in close contact Infants have an innate repertoire of attachment behaviours that motivate adult attention Adults also seem to have innate predispositions to respond to infants and automatically respond to infant in a way that infants can understand ie making exaggerating facial expressions and pitch their voices higher infants do this to keep caregivers in close proximity Thus attachment is adaptiveAttachment across speciesIdea that attachment is important for survival applies not only to humans but also to many other species
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