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Child Psychology [CHAPTER NOTES] Part 5 - I got a 4.0 in the course

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Florida State University
DEP 3103

Chapter 5  Periods of physical growth • 20% of lifespan is spent physically developing (rats = 2%, primates = 16%); evolutionary adaptation to ensure that infants have enough time to be able to learn about the complex world around them • Why so long? → Adaptive  enough time to acquire knowledge and skills for life • During first 2 decades body changes continuously and dramatically • Process regulated and controlled by biological and environmental factors • Cephalocaudal principle: growth starts at head, moves down • Proximodistal principle: growth starts at center, moves out • During puberty, the Proximodistal trend reverses → Hands, legs, and feet grow first → Then torso  Changes in fat-muscle makeup • Birth/infancy: girls are born with more fat; fat peaks at 9 months; muscle is added slowly, born with much less • Childhood: girls add more fat on arms, legs, and trunk than boys; muscle is added slowly • Adolescence: girls add (needed to carry babies), boys lose; boys add much more muscle than girls (about 150% increase greater in boys)  Sex differences in gross motor skills • Physical → Childhood: small differences → Adolescence: boys develop more strength, speed, endurance • Social → More athletic pressure on boys ⇒ May lead to more practice  may underlie the differences in physical growth  Brain development • Synaptic pruning: neurons which don’t form a connection with others with experience die off • Cerebral cortex → Largest, most complex structure in the human brain → Makes possible the unique intelligence of our species → Account for 85% of brain’s weight → Contains greatest number of neurons and synapses → Last brain structure to stop growing (growing till at least the age of 25) ⇒ Sensitive to environmental influences for longer than any other part of the brain → Regions of the cerebral cortex ⇒ Different regions have specific functions ⇒ Order of development corresponds to emerging capacities ⇒ Frontal lobes most extended development • Thought: consciousness, reasoning, planning, problem-solving, etc. → Lateralization of cerebral cortex – we’re aren’t born with that lateralization, specialization comes in childhood, not typically for left-handers (remains un- lateralized, associated with creativity/genius) ⇒ Left hemisphere • “verbal/language abilities” • Sensory information and control of right side of body • Positive emotion • Sequential, analytical processing ⇒ Right hemisphere • Sensory information and control of left side of body • Spatial abilities • Negative emotion • Holistic, integrative processing → Brain plasticity ⇒ Infants and young children – parts of brain not yet specialized • More plastic than will ever be again; children can fall off the couch and hit their head and not have much damage whereas it would be bad for adults ⇒ Before lateralization, if part of cortex is damaged other areas can take over ⇒ Early experience greatly influences organization • Ex.- deaf adults who learned to sign young depend more on right side for language processing ⇒ Older children, even adults, have some plasticity  Environment and brain development • In infants and young children, parts of brain are not yet specialized (that’s why it’s easier to learn a language when you’re young) • High plasticity = high capacity for learning → Environmental input • What does this mean for restricted environments? → Hirsch and Spinelli: ⇒ Put kittens in glasses that either had horizontal or vertical lines; they did this throughout “kitten-hood”; when they took off the glasses, the cats who only saw vertical lines could not process horizontal lines and those who wore horizontal lined glasses couldn’t process things in their vertical field  Sensitive periods in brain development • Stimulation vital when brain is growing rapidly • Experience-expectant growth → Ordinary experiences “expected” by brain to grow normally; ex.- when you’re born, your brain is expecting to hear language, it’s ready to process it; you can learn language without anyone presenting it to you • Experience-dependent growth → Additional growth as a result of specific learning experiences; ways we grow that our brain doesn’t expect;
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