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Chapter 2

Psychology 2320A/B Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Etiology, Behaviorism, Midbrain

Course Code
Elizabeth Hayden

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-Etiology: Study of the causes of childhood disorders that considers how biological,
psychological, and environmental processes interact
-One dimensional models do not capture the complexities of abnormal child behavior
Underlying Assumptions
-3 assumptions:
-(1) Abnormal development is multiply determined:
-Considering developmental pathways and interacting events
-(2) Child and environment are interdependent:
-Interdependent: How child and environment affect one another
-Nature and nurture work together and are interconnected
-Transaction: Dynamic interaction of a child and environment
-(3) Abnormal development involves continuities and discontinuities
-Few disorders emerge without warning signs or connections to developmental
-Continuity: Developmental changes are gradual and quantitative (i.e., expressed
as amounts that can be measured numerically, such as weight and height
changes) and that future behavior patterns can be predicted
-Well supported for early onset and persistent conduct disorders which
have likelihood of evolving into serious antisocial acts
-Discontinuity: Developmental changes are abrupt and qualitative (cannot be
measured numerically such as changes in mood or expression) and that future
behaviour is poorly predicted
-Eating disorders for example, as they occur suddenly
Integrative Approach
-Over time, major theories have become compatible with one another rather than
-Adaptational failure: Failure to master or progress in accomplishing developmental
Organization of Development
-Organization of development: Early patterns of adaptation (e.g., infant eye contact)
evolve with structure over time and transform into higher-order functions such as
speech and language
-An active, dynamic process of continual change and transformation
-Sensitive periods: Windows of time during which environmental influences on
development are enhanced

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-Development generally proceeds in an organized, hierarchal manner
Developmental Psychopathology Perspective
-Developmental psychopathology: Emphasizes the importance of developmental
processes and tasks
-Uses abnormal development to inform normal development
-To understand maladaptive behavior adequately, one must view it in relation to what is
normative for a given period of development
-Developmental cascades: Process by which a child’s previous interactions and
experiences may spread across other systems and alter his/her course of development,
like a chain reaction
-During early childhood synapses multiply; then selective pruning reduces the # of
connections in a way that gradually shapes and differentiates important brain functions
-The micro anatomy of the brain is constantly redefined to meet the demands of adult
Neural Plasticity and the Role of Experience
-Neural plasticity/malleability: The brain’s anatomical differentiation is use-dependent:
Nature provides the basic processes, whereas nurture provides the experiences needed
to select the most adaptive network of connections, based on the use and function of
-Nature has a plan for the human brain, the environment influences this plan
-Abuse and neglect can prime the brain for struggle in handling stress or forming
-Maturation of the brain is an organized, hierarchal process that builds on earlier function
-Major restructuring of the brain occurs between ages 9 and 11 in relation to pubertal
-Problems occurring at a younger age are often associated with more severe organic
disorders and central nervous system complications
Genetic Contributions
-Implicated in all childhood disorders
-A gene by itself does not produce a behavior, an emotion, or even a passing thought —>
it actually produces a protein —> proteins produce tendencies to respond to the
environment in certain ways
-Gene-environment interaction (GxE)
-Behavioral genetics: Branch that investigates possible connections between a genetic
predisposition and observed behavior, taking into account environmental and genetic
-Family aggregation studies cannot control for environmental variables that may
also contribute to a particular outcome
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