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Chapter 2

Chapter 2 Reading Notes.odt

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Diane Glebe

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READING NOTES Chapter 2: Cognitive Transitions Changes in cognition, or thinking, represent the second of three fundamental changes that occur during adolescence – the others being the biological changes of puberty and the transition into new social roles Changes in Cognition • Thinking becomes more advance and efficient, this can be seen in five chief ways: ◦ Adolescents are better able than children to think about what is possible, instead of limiting their thought to what is real ◦ Adolescence are better able than children to think about abstract things ◦ Adolescents think more often than children about the process of thinking itself ◦ Adolescents' thinking, compared to children's, is more often multidimensional, rather than limited to a single issue ◦ Adolescents are more likely than children to see things as relative, rather than absolute Thinking About Possibilities • Deductive and Inductive Reasoning ◦ Deductive reasoning is a type of logical reasoning in which you draw logically necessary conclusions from a general set of premises, or givens ▪ e.g.) All hockey players wear mouth guards. Kim is a hockey player. Does Kim wear a mouth guard? ▪ Individuals who reason deductively understand the the correct conclusion follows from the first two statements ▪ Areason for superior performance on these sorts of problems is that adolescents are better able to catch themselves before they incorrectly answer the question and pause a moment before responding ▪ Conclusions derived from deductive inferences are guaranteed to be true ◦ Inductive reasoning is when inferences are made based on the accumulated evidence ▪ e.g.) Kim and John are hockey players. Kim and John all wear mouth guards. Do all hockey players wear mouth guards? ▪ For this problem, you would have different degrees of confidence in your conclusion depending on the amount of information you had ▪ Conclusions derived from inductive inference vary in their likelihood of being true • Hypothetical Thinking ◦ “if-then,” thinking ◦ In order to think hypothetically, you need to see beyond what is directly observable and apply logical reasoning to anticipate what might be possible ◦ Studies show that prior to adolescence, individuals have difficulty in dealing with propositions that are contrary to fact Thinking About Abstract Concepts • Adolescents find it easier than children to comprehend the sorts of higher-order abstract logic inherent in puns, proverbs, metaphors, and analogies • Abstract thinking permits the application of advanced reasoning and logical processes to social and ideological matters • The growth of social thinking, “social cognition” during adolescence is directly related to the young person's improving ability to think abstractly Thinking About Thinking • Metacognition during adolescence often involves monitoring your own cognitive activity during the thinking process ◦ e.g.) When you consciously use a strategy for remembering something ◦ Strategies significantly aids adolescents in problem-solving situations ◦ Introspection, self-consciousness, and intellectualization becomes increased during adolescence ▪ We are thinking more about our emotions, how others think about us, and about our own thoughts • Adolescent Egocentrism ◦ Being able to introspect may lead to periods of extreme self-absorption – a form of “adolescent egocentrism”, which many result in two distinct problems in thinking that help to explain odd beliefs and behaviours of teenagers: ▪ Imaginary audience, involves having such a heightened sense of self- consciousness that the teenager imagines that his/ her behaviour is the focus of everyone else's attention ▪ Personal fable revolves around the adolescent's egocentric belief that his/ her experiences are unique • e.g.) An adolescent whose relationship with a girlfriend has just ended might tell his mother that she could not understand what it feels like to break up with someone (even though breaking up is something that most people have experienced plenty of during their adolescent years) Thinking in Multiple Dimensions • Whereas children tend to think about things in one aspect at a time, adolescents can see things through more complicated lenses • The development of a more sophisticated understanding of probability is also made possible by an improved ability to think in multidimensional terms • In terms of behaviour and thinking, adolescents describe themselves and others in more differentiated and complicated terms and find it easier to look at problems from multiple perspectives • Sarcasm and South Park ◦ Only by attending simultaneously to multiple dimensions of speech can we distinguish between the sincere and the sarcastic Adolescent Relativism • Afinal aspect of cognition that changes during adolescence concerns a shift from seeing things in absolute terms – in black and white – to seeing things as relative • Compared to children, adolescents are more likely to question others' assertions and less likely to accept “facts” as absolute truths Recap • One of the most important changes in thinking during adolescence is the increased ease with which individuals think about what is possible or hypothetical • Being and to think about what is possible, and not just what is real, is reflected in improvements in deductive reasoning – reasoning that is based on principles of logic • Adolescence is a time of improvements in thinking about abstract concepts • During adolescence, individuals become better able to engage in “thinking about thinking” or metacognition • Compared with children, adolescents are better able to think in multiple dimensions • Adolescents often go through a stage of relativistic thinking during which they question the validity of absolutes Theoretical Perspective onAdolescent Thinking Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development • The Piagetian perspective takes a cognitive-developmental view of intellectual development and argues that cognitive development proceeds through a fixed sequence of qualitatively distinct stages: ◦ the sensorimotor period (from birth until age 2) ◦ the preoperational period (from age 2 to 5) ◦ the period of concrete operations (from age 6 until early adolescence) ◦ the period of formal operations (from adolescence through adulthood) ▪ Piagetian theorists believe that the use of abstract logical reasoning is the chief feature of adolescent thinking that differentiates it from the type of thinking employed by children • The Growth of Formal-Operational Thinking ◦ The development of formal thinking takes place in two steps: ▪ 1. Young adolescents may demonstrate formal thinking at some times but at others many think only in concrete terms ▪ 2. It is not until middle or late adolescence that formal-operational thinking becomes consolidated and integrated into the individual's general approach to reasoning ◦ Research indicates that gapes between individuals' logical reasoning abilities and their actual use of logical reasoning in everyday situations are very large, with everyday decision making fraught with logical errors that cannot be explained by cognitive incompetence The Information-Processing View of Adolescent Thinking • Aperspective on cognition that derives from the study of artificial intelligence and attempts to explain cognitive development in terms of the growth of specific components of the thinking process (e.g., memory) • Studies have focused on five areas in which components improve during adolescence: ◦ Attention ▪ Improvements are both seen in selective attention, in which adolescents must focus on one stimulus and tune out another, and in divided attention, in which adolescents must pay attention to two sets of stimuli at the same time ▪ Improvements in attention mean that adolescents are better able than children to concentrate and stay focused on complicated tasks ▪ This improvement is likely linked to the maturation of the brain systems that govern impulse control ◦ Working memory ▪ Improvements are seen in both working memory, which involves the ability to remember something for a brief period of time (30 secs), and in long-term memory, which involves being able to recall something from a long time ago ▪ Improvements in working memory coincide with the continued maturation of brain regions during adolescence that are responsible for this aspect of cognition ◦ Processing speed ▪ Regardless of the type of cognitive task, researches find that older adolescents process information to solve problems faster than early adolescents ▪ Speech of processing does not appear to change very much between middle adolescence and young adulthood ◦ Organization ▪ Adolescents are more “planful” than children • They are more likely to approach a problem with an appropriate information- processing strategy • e.g.) Use of Nemonic devices (HOMES to remember the Great Lakes – Huron, Ontario, Michigan, etc.) ◦ Metacognition ▪ Adolescents are more likely than children to think about their own thoughts, this may be due to adolescents' greater sensitivity to social information ▪ The development of these advanced abilities may not be complete until individuals reach their mid-20s Recap • The two dominant theoretical perspectives in the study of adolescent cognition are the Piagetian perspective and the Information-Processing perspective • According to Piaget, adolescence is a period characterized by the stage of formal operations • Although Piaget theorized that thinking during adolescence is qualitatively different from different from thinking during childhood, research shows that changes in cognition during this time are more gradual • The information-processing perspective focuses on the specific components of thinking, such as memory and attention, and asks whether and to what extent these improve in adolescence • In general, there are major improvements in basic cognitive processes in early adolescence, but by the time individuals have reached age 15 or so, their basic thinking and reasoning abilities are comparable to those of adults TheAdolescent Brain • The brain reaches its adult size by age 10, making it possible that changes in thinking during adolesce are due to sheet increases in the size or volume of the brain • Various ways to examine the brain: ◦ functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) is a technique used to produce images of the brain, often while the subject is performing some sort of mental task ◦ Diffusion Tensor Imaging is a technique used to produce images of the brain that shows connections among different regions ◦ Electroencephalography (EEG) measures electrical activity at different locations on the scalp, EEG can be used to examine changes in electrical activity called Event-Related Potentials (ERP) in response to different stimuli or events • Some aspects of brain development in adolescence are reflected in changes in brain structure, the physical form or shape of the brain ◦ While others are reflected not so much in the brain's structure but in changes in brain function, patterns of brain activity • Are Male and Female Brains Different? ◦ Research indicates that differences between the genders in brain structure and function are very small and unlikely to explain differences between males and females ◦ In general, male brains are about 10% larger than female brains What Changes in Adolescence? • How Your Brain Works ◦ Your brain contains approx. 100 billion neurons (nerve cells) ◦ Neurons carry information by transmitting electrical changes across the body and brain as well as back and forth within the brain by means of neurotransmitters ▪ The two neurons do not touch, there is a gap across which neurotransmitters carry electrical impulses called a synapse ▪ This occurs any time we perceive something, move something, or process information ◦ Akey process in early brain development is the development of connections – synapses – between neurons ◦ Soon after birth unused and unnecessary synapses start to be eliminated, a process called synaptic pruning, to improve the efficiency of information processing ◦ Development of synapses is characterized by a period of growth followed by a period of decline ▪ When we plot density of synapses over time, we se series of ∩- shaped curve ◦ Myelination occurs when neurons are encased by a white fatty tissue that interconnect them ▪ Increases the speed of neural impulses and so improves information transmission ▪ Unlike synaptic pruning, myelination increases through childhood to adulthood • Changes in Brain Structure DuringAdolescence ◦ The part of the brain that is pruned in adolescence is the prefrontal cortex, the region of the brain responsible for sophisticated thinking abilities: ▪ Planning, thinking ahead, weighing risks and rewards, controlling impulses ◦ Study found that a relation between intelligence and patterns of synaptic growth and pruning in the cortex, with relatively more intelligent adolescents showing a more dramatic and longer period of production of synapses before adolescence and a more dramatic pruning of them after ◦ Connectivity between the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system, an area of the brain involved in the processing of emotions, social information and reward and punishment, lead to improvements in our ability to regulate our emotions and coordinate our thoughts and feelings • Changes in Brain Function DuringAdolescence ◦ Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is the outer and upper areas of the brain, important for skills such as planning ahead and controlling impulses ◦ Ventromedial prefrontal cortex, the lower and central area of the front of the brain, which is important for more gut-level, intuitive decision making, and which has strong connections with the limbic system, where emotions and social information are processed ◦ Orbitofrontal cortex, the area of the brain directly behind the eyes, which is important for evaluating risks and rewards ◦ The two most important changes involving the prefrontal cortex lead to greater efficiency in information processing: ▪ First, patterns of activation within the prefrontal cortex generally become more focused ▪ Second, individuals are more likely to use multiple parts of the brain simultaneously and coordinate activity between prefrontal regions and other areas, including the limbic system ◦ In the limbic system, neurotransmitters, including dopamine and serotonin, have patterns of change are different levels ▪ Dopamine plays an important role in our experience of reward ▪ Serotonin plays an important role in our exper
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