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Chapter 11

PSY100 Chapter 11.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Dan Dolderman

Chapter 11Human DevelopmentINTRODUCTION1970 mother and daughter walked into a welfare office after seeking help after escaping an abusive and mentally ill husband o Genie daughter was suffering from autism 46 13 yrs old o Father locked her in a dark room and caged in a crib at night o Raised with no normal human contact and no stimulationDevelopmental psychology is concerned with changes over the lifespan in physiology in cognition and in social behaviour o Focused on agerelated changes in psychological capacities such as perception language and thinking o Socialization affects human characteristics such as morality gender and identity WHAT SHAPES A CHILDDuring prenatal period the body develops in a fixed sequence o Roll over to sit up to crawl to stand to walk and to talk in that orderChildren often achieve developmental milestones at different paces depending on the cultures in which they are raised o Healthy children in Uganda tend to walk by 10 months whereas children in France often do not walk before 15 months DEVELOPMENT STARTS IN THE WOMBProcess begins at the moment of conception when the sperm from the male unites with the egg from the female to create the zygote the first cell of a new life o From about two weeks to two months the developing human is known as an embryothe internal organs such as the heart lungs kidneys sex organs and nervous system begin to form o After two months it is called a fetus PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENTALGenes in combination with the environment in the womb govern much of the human nervous systems prenatal development o Basic bran areas begin to form by week 4 the cells that will form the cortex are visible by week 7 those of the thalamus and hypothalamus by week 10 and those of the left and right hemispheres by week 12Hormones that circulate the womb influence the developing fetus o If the mothers thyroid does not produce sufficient amounts of hormones the fetus is at risk for lower IQ and diminished intellectual development TERATOGENSSome environmental influences adversely affect the developing fetus o Teratogens environmental agents that can impair physical and cognitive development in the womb include drugs alcohol bacteria viruses and chemicalsthe physical effects of exposure to certain teratogens may be obvious at birth but disorders involving either language or reasoning may not become apparent until the child is olderexposure to a tertogen at about four weeks of age can interfere with the proper development of basic brain structuresexample 1950s women were prescribed the drug thalidomide to ease pregnancy symptoms thalidomide caused various birth defects especially limb deformities the precise nature of which depended on when the mother took the drug o Excessive consumption of alcohol during pregnancy can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome FAS the symptoms of which consist of low birth weight face and head abnormalities slight mental retardation and behavioural and cognitive problems BRAIN DEVELOPMENT PROMOTES LEARNINGNewborns normally come into the world able to see smell hear taste and respond o Twohourold infants prefer sweet tastes to all other tastesAlthough newborn infants cannot survive on their own they are not completely helpless o Newborns have various basic reflexes that aid survival grasping reflex when a baby holds your finger some believe this reflex is a survival mechanism that has persisted from our primate ancestors o Rooting reflex the turning and sucking that infants automatically engage in when a nipple or similar object touches an area near their mouth MYELINATION AND NEURONAL CONNECTIONSEarly brain growth has two important aspects specific areas within the brain mature and become functional and regions of the brain learn to communicate with one another through synaptic connections o Brain circuits mature through myelination which begins on the spinal cord during the first trimester of pregnancy and on the brains neurons during the second trimesterA way of insulting its wires nerve fibres are wrapped with a fatty sheath much like the plastic coating around electrical wire to increase speed with which they are able to transmit signals o The myelinated axons form synapses with other neuronsThe brain adopts a very strict use it or lose it policy the frequently used connections are preserved the unused ones decay and disappear
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