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Chapter 6

Chapter 6 - Textbook Notes

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Psychology 2040A/B
Ian Mac Donald

CHAPTER 6EARLY CONTROVERSIES ABOUT SENSORYPERCEPTUAL DEVELOPMENTNature VS NurtureEmpiricist philosophers believed that an infant was a tabula rasa who must learn to interpret sensations Nativist philosophers took the nature side arguing that many basic perceptual abilities are innate Todays developmentalists take less extreme stands on the naturenurture issueo They recognize that the perceptual world of a human neonate is rather limited and that both maturational processes and experience contribute to the growth of perceptual awarenessEnrichment VS Differentiation Enrichment Theory theory specifying that we must add to sensory stimulation by drawing on stored knowledge in order to perceive a meaningful world o Claims that sensory stimulation is often fragmented and confusingo To interpret such ambiguous input we use our available cognitive schemes to add to or enrich it Differentiation Theory theory specifying that perception involves detecting distinctive features or cues that are contained in the sensory stimulation we receiveo Claims that sensory stimulation provides all we need to interpret our experienceso Distinctive Features characteristics of a stimulus that remain constant dimensions on which two or more objects differ and can be discriminated sometimes called invariances or invariant featuresRESEARCH METHODS USED TO STUDY THE INFANTS SENSORYPERCEPTUAL EXPERIENCESIn the early 1900s medical texts claimed that human infants were functionally blind deaf and impervious to pain for several days after birth Babies were believed to be unprepared to extract any meaning from the world around them The Preference MethodPreference Method simple procedure in which at least two stimuli are presented simultaneously to see whether infants will attend more to one of them than the other Became popular during the early 1960s Early results suggested that the ability to detect and discriminate patterns is innate One major shortcoming to this method o If an infant shows no preferences among the target stimuli it is not clear whether he or she failed to discriminate them or simply found them equally interesting The Habituation MethodHabituation decrease in ones response to a stimulus that has become familiar through repetitionAs infants stop responding to familiar stimuli they are telling us they recognize them as something they have experienced beforeTo test an infants ability to discriminate two stimuli that differ in some wayinvestigator first presents one of the stimuli until the infant stops attending to it then the second stimuli is presentedif the infant discriminates this second stimulus from the first he or she will dishabituate an increase in responsiveness that occurs when stimulation changeso If the infant fails to react it is assumed that the differences between the two stimuli were too subtle for them to detect Habituation method is very useful for assessing their sensory and perceptual capabilities Drawback o Distinguishing between habituation and preference effects can be tricky Infants display preference when they are familiar with but not too familiar with a stimulus In order to properly categorize infant looking behaviours researchers must pay careful attention to the familiarization time line of each infant being testedThe Method of Evoked Potentials Present an infant with a stimulus and record their brain waves Responses to visual stimuli are recorded from the back of the head above the occipital lobe Responses to sounds recorded from the side of the head above the temporal lobeIf the infant senses the particular stimulus present he or she will show a change in the patterning of their brain waves or evoked potential Evoked Potential a change in patterning of the brain waves that indicates that an individuals detects senses a stimulus The HighAmplitude Sucking MethodHighAmplitude Sucking Method method of assessing infants perceptual capabilities that capitalizes on the ability of infants to make interesting events last by varying the rate at which they suck on a special pacifier Pacifier contains electrical circuitry that enables them to exert some control over the sensory environment Researcher establishes the infants baseline sucking rate then the procedure begins Whenever the infant sucks fasterharder than they did during the baseline observations the infant trips the electrical circuit in the pacifier thereby activating a slide projector or tape recorder that introduces some kind of sensory simulationShould the infant detect this simulation and find it interesting they can make it last by displaying bursts of highamplitude sucking Once the infants interest wanes her sucking returns to baseline level and the simulation stops
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