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PSYC 2110 Chapter Notes -Depth Perception, Tabula Rasa, Infant


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC 2110
Professor
Gillian Wu

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CH 7: SENSATION, PERCEPTION (S&P) AND LEARNING
Sensation: process which sensory neurons detect info and transmit them to
the brain
Perception: interpretation of sensory input to recognize, understand and
know what you sensing
o The question is, do infants perceive the world, or do they just sense it
Learning: process in which behavior changes bc of experience
EARLY CONTROVERSIES ABOUT S&P DEV
Empiricist: ppl that believe an infant is tabula rasa so they only learn to
interpret sensation but there senses are already integrated at birth (James)
o So dev is based on nurture
Nativist: ppl that believe perceptual ability is innate - built from evolution
(Descartes and Kant)
o Dev is based on nature
Enrichment theory: there is an objective reality to which we will respond,
but sensory stimulation is often fragmented or confusing in order to
interpret the stimulation, we use our cognitive scheme to enrich our
experience
Differentiation theory: sensory stimulation provides everything we need to
interpret our experiences our task is to detect distinctive features so we
can discriminate one form of experience from another
o When children’s perceptual capabilities blossom, they are able to start
detecting more features to understand different stimulation
RESEARCH METHODS USED TO STUDY THE INFANTS S&P EXPERIENCE
Preference method: child lies in a looking chamber while different visual
patterns are presented to them above if the child looked at one pattern
more than another, its assumed that they show a preference
o Determined that the ability to detect and discriminate patterns is
innate
o Problem was that if the child showed no preference was it bc they
couldn’t discriminate or did they equally like both of them
Habituation method: most popular way to measure S&P in infants infant
is shown one stimulate until they habituate to it, then the 2nd stimulus is
presented (if they discriminate it from the first, then they will dishabituate
determined by them attending closely to the stimuli while having changes in
heart rate)
o If they fail to react, then it shows the differences is too subtle for them
to react
o Can be use on sight, taste, odors, sounds and touch
o Problem w/ this is that when infants are too familiar w/ something
they are ready to move on from it so spend less time looking at it; they
stimuli should be familiar (but not too familiar w/ the stimulus)

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Evoked potentials method: use brain waves to see if they can discriminate
different sights/sounds will produce different brain activity
High-amplitude sucking method: baby creates a baseline sucking rate, and
if it increases when different stimuli are presented it determines that they
can discriminate
INFANT SENSORY CAPABILITES
Hearing
Soft sounds adults hear need to be louder for a baby; although they can
discriminate different sounds (loudness, direction, frequency and duration)
They are specifically attentive to high-pitched feminine voices able to
detect their moms voice to any other, perhaps bc they heard this most often
when in the womb
o As a fetus, if a passage is read by their mother or a stranger, the heart
rate differed (learn sound patterns before birth)
Infants cannot detect emotion states from sounds they rely on facial
expression for this
Are able to discriminate basic speech sounds (phonemes)
Babies at around 4 ½ can recognize words they hear often (even if they don’t
understand what it means just yet)
Taste and Smell
Newborns can discriminate taste as sweet, bitter, salty or neutral; preference
for sweet
Facial expressions will change if given different tastes
Newborns can also detect difference in odor only after four days of birth,
they already prefer the smell of milk to amniotic fluid
Newborns by 1 week can detect a difference in the smell of their mother to
others (known as the olfactory signature)
Touch, Temperature and Pain
Touch and close contact enhance dev in infants lowers stress, calms and
promotes neural activity
Infants at later ages also use touch to explore the environment first w/
their mouths then later with their hands
Sensitive to warmth, cold and change in temp
Infants also respond to pain more as a newborn than when their older
Males that are circumcised normally emit high-pitched wails, similar to
premature or babies that have brain damage
VISION
Least mature sense of a newborns capability
The first 1-2 months, babies have a preference to track faces rather than
objects (which eventually disappears)
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