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Cognitive Development Cognitive Development In the

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									Cognitive Development
   In the First Two Years
Jean Piaget: Period of
Sensorimotor Intelligence
 Piaget (Swiss, 1896-1980) believed that
  infants were smart, active learners
 Also that they adapted to experience
 Called infancy (birth to 24 months) the
  sensorimotor period because infants
  learn through their senses and motor
 Period subdivided into 6 sub-stages
Stages 1 & 2: Primary circular
 The brain and senses interact involve
  the infant’s own body (birth to 1 month)
 Sensation, perception and cognition
  cycle back and forth (Piaget’s circular
 Stage 1: stage of reflexes--the reflexes
  of grasping, rooting, staring, listening--
  are adapted into deliberate actions
 Sensation becomes perception
Stage 2 of Primary Circular
Reactions: acquired adaptations
 Accommodation and coordination of
  reflexes (1-4 months)
 Example: sucking becomes adapted--
  infant sucks a pacifier differently than a
 This indicates thinking: the infant has
  figured out that the pacifier is something
  different than a bottle
Stages 3 & 4: Secondary Circular
 Involve the infant’s responses to objects
  and people
 Stage 3 (4-8 months) includes making
  interesting sights last: it is responding to
  people and objects, as in clapping hands
  when mother says “Patty-cake!”
 Also includes responding to toys
 The sight of something that delights the
  infant will trigger active efforts for
Stage 4 of Secondary Circular
 New adaptation and anticipation
 Infant becomes more deliberate and
  purposeful in responding to people and
 Example: putting other’s hands together
  in order to make her start playing patty-
 Thinking is more innovative--babies are
  thinking about a goal and how to reach
Goal-directed behavior is a big
 This behavior stems from
 1) an enhanced awareness of cause and
 2) memory for actions already
 3) understanding of other people’s
 This new awareness coincides with new
  motor skills that are needed to achieve
Object Permanence:
 Piaget thought babies attain this at 8
 Object permanence refers to the
  awareness that objects or people
  continue to exist even if they cannot be
  seen, touched or heard
 Probably occurs as early as 5 months,
  new research indicates it happens
  somewhere between 4 and 6 months
Stages 5 & 6: Tertiary Circular
 Second year of life
 Feedback loops involve active
  exploration of the environment and
 “Little Scientists” in stage 5, (12-18
  months) new means through active
 Examples: putting a teddy bear in the
  toilet and flushing, or squeezing all the
  toothpaste out of the tube
Stage 6:
 New means through mental
  combinations (18-24 months)
 Considering before doing provides the
  child with new ways of achieving a goal
  without resorting to trial-and-error
 This will hopefully involve
  remembering that flushing teddy down
  the toilet resulted in an overflowing
  toilet the last time it was tried
Stage 6:
 Using mental combinations involves
  intellectual experimentation that
  supersedes active experimentation
 Children can now combine 2 ideas: they
  know a doll is not a real baby, but also
  that the doll can be belted into a stroller
  and taken for a walk
 They begin to think about consequences
 They also can defer imitation (copy
  behavior they saw hours or days before)
Criticism of Piaget:
 Piaget underestimated infant cognition,
  probably because he based his ideas on
  observations of his own children, not of many
  children from many cultures
 Modern research includes “Habituation” or
  repeated exposure to get used to an object or
 Then sensitive physiologic measurements are
  used to record reactions
 Using this, even 1-month-olds can be
  demonstrated to differentiate between sounds
More criticism:
 The brain and its growth can now be
  measured by fMRI, which measures
  electrical activity in the brain that
  indicates firing of neurons
 This has shown us that the brain has a
  huge amount of early growth, then trims
  off dendrites
 Also shows that growth continues after
  the first 2 years
 Piaget didn’t have this technology
Summing up Piaget:
 Piaget discovered that infants are very
  active learners
 Described this as Sensorimotor Period
 Substages: Circular Reactions
 Lacked modern technology
 Also used a restricted sample that may
  have led him to place some behaviors
  later than is true with the majority
Information Processing Theory:
 A perspective that compares human
  thinking processes, by analogy, to
  computer analysis of data, including
  sensory input, connections, stored
  memories, and output
 Many versions of this theory
 All share the belief that a step-by-step
  description of the mechanisms of
  thought adds insight to our
How it works:
 Human information processing begins
  with input picked up by the senses
 It proceeds to brain reactions,
  connections, and stored memories
 It concludes with some output
 With the aid of technology, the
  information processing model has found
  impressive intellectual capabilities in
  infants, like a basic grasp of cause and
  effect by the middle of the first year
 Opportunities for perception and
  interaction that are offered by a person,
  place, or environment
 Which particular affordance is
  perceived and acted upon depends on 4
 Sensory awareness
 Immediate motivation
 Current level of development
 Past experience
Selective perception:
 Example: consider a lemon, an
  opportunity (an affordance) for
  smelling, touching, tasting, viewing,
  throwing, squeezing, and biting
 Further, each of these is an affordance
  for pleasure, pain, or some other
  emotional response
 Which affordance is perceived and acted
  upon is dependent upon sensations,
  motives, age, and experience
How do they research this?
 Mostly by looking at what infants attend
  to on a TV screen
 Varies with age
 Varies with novelty
 Varies with experience
 Even varies with vocabulary
Visual Cliff experiment:
 Tested depth perception
 An infant’s awareness was affected by
  experience, especially with falling
Movement: Dynamic Perception
 Dynamic perception is perception that is
  primed to focus on movement and
 Babies pay close attention to things that
  move and to people
 They also love to move: they grab, they
  scoot, they crawl, they walk
 And they realize that motion changes
  what the world affords them
Dynamic Perception:
 Almost any moving creature will get the
  attention of an infant, who will chase and grab
  at it
 Even infants who are not mobile will try to
  catch a ball moving past them
 Experience affect this: younger babies may
  ignore slow-moving balls, but attempt to catch
  fast ones unsuccessfully, 20% or less success
 9-month-olds know to reach for the slow
  moving balls, with an almost 100% success
People Preference:
 Another universal principle of infant
  perception is that they are innately
  attracted to other humans, evident in
  visual, auditory, tactile, and other
 In objects, infants prefer novelty
 In people, infants prefer familiarity
 They recognize their caregivers and
  expect certain affordances from them:
  comfort, food, entertainment)
More on people preference:
 Infants can infer emotional affordances
  long before they understand language
 They “get” and respond to smiles,
  shouts, facial expressions, and tones of
  voice very early in life
 Studies indicate that 7-month-olds can
  reliably match facial expression and
  emotional tone of voice based on photos
  and tapes
 And even younger infants can do this
  with people they know
Smiling and mommy and daddy:
 In these experiments, infants did not
  match the facial expressions and
  emotional voice of strangers, but could
  do so for their moms/dads, reacting
  swiftly and correctly
 The idea of researchers is that parents
  offer the affordance of JOY!
 Processing and remembering requires a
  certain amount of experience and brain
 Even with repetition, infants have difficulty
  storing memories in their first year
 This is partly due to language deficits
 But infants do form memories--especially if
  motivated and if reminded repeatedly
 Experiments with mobiles and kicking
  indicate this
Reminders and Repetition:
 Reminder session: a perceptual
  experience that is intended to help a
  person recollect an idea, a thing, or an
  experience, without testing whether the
  person remembers it at the moment
 Research employing these sessions
  demonstrated that even 3-month-olds
  could remember actions that they
  learned 2 weeks previously
And it gets better:
 After 6 months, infants can retain
  information with less training, repetition
  and reminding
 By the end of the first year, many kinds
  of memory are apparent: deferred
  imitation by 9 months
 By 18 months, infants can remember
  and repeat complex sequences
 Toddlers action indicates conceptual
  thinking is present
Child-directed speech:
 The high-pitched, simplified, and
  repetitive way adults speak to infants
 Fosters early language development
 By 7 months, infants begin to recognize
  words, but only words that are highly
  distinctive: bottle, dog, and mama are
  recognized before baby, Bobby, and
 Within the first few months of life,
  hearing becomes more selective, too
What selective hearing means:
 They prefer child-directed speech
 They like alliterative sounds
 They love songs--rhyme, rhythm, and
 And simple sounds more than complex
 Infants respond to sounds they like (by 4
  months) with squealing, growling,
  gurgling, grunting, crooning, and yelling
 The extended repetition of certain
  syllables, such as ba-ba-ba, that begins
  when babies are between 6 and 9
  months old
 Responses from other people encourage
 It stops in deaf babies because they
  cannot hear responses
 Using sign language shows that babies
  can express language with gestures
  sooner than with speech
First words:
 Usually at about 1 year
 Caregivers understand the baby’s words
  before strangers
 In the first months of the second year of
  life, vocabulary understanding is about
  10 times the number of words they can
 Holophrases: a single word spoken in
  such a way that expresses a complete,
  meaningful thought
Naming Explosion:
 A sudden increase in an infant’s vocabulary,
  especially in the number of nouns, that begins
  at about 18 months of age
 In almost every language, the name of each
  significant caregiver, sibling, and sometimes,
  pet, is learned between 12-18 months of age
 Once the vocabulary reaches 50 words, it
  builds at a rate of 50-100 words per month
 21 month olds say twice as many words as 18
  month olds
Cultural differences:
 Cultures and families vary a lot in how
  much child-directed speech children
 Some are more verbal than others
 Some cultures emphasize quiet children
  (not the US)
 And languages vary: some are Verb-
  Friendly (verbs are placed before nouns)
  so infants learn as many verbs as nouns,
  unlike English
Social context matters, too
 If social interaction is emphasized by
  the culture, verbs will be acquired as
  much as nouns
 Example: Chinese toddlers learn more
  verbs than US toddlers, who learn more
 Ethnicities that speak the language of
  the country they have immigrated to
  have babies that learn language like the
  new culture
Concepts and Language:
 Some concepts are easy, some are not
 In English, infants confuse before and
 Dutch infants misuse out when it refers
  to taking off clothing
 Learning adjectives is easier in Italian
  and Spanish than in English or French
  because of the patterns in those
 Conveys/encodes cultural values and
  social constructs
 If a child is more referential than
  expressive, it likely reflects the cultures,
  values, and priorities of the parents
Putting words together:
 Grammar: all the methods--word order, verb
  forms, etc.--that languages use to
  communicate meaning, apart from the words
 Grammar is obvious in 2-word sentences
  (baby cry, more juice), at about 21 months
 Grammar will correlate with the size of the
  child’s vocabulary, reflecting a knowledge of
  clear communication
 Learning more than one language can slow
  down language and grammar acquisition
Theories of Language Learning:
 50 years ago, the first theory reflected
  behaviorism (learning theory) and said that
  children needed to be taught language, step by
  step, through reinforcement
 This theory includes the ideas that
  parents/caregivers are expert teachers and help
  children speak
 Frequent repetition is instructive
 Well-taught infants become well-spoken
Studies in Behavioral Theory:
 Indicate great variation in how parents
  reinforce infants’ speech
 The frequency of paternal response at 9
  months predicted infants language many
  months later
 Adults teach, infants learn language
Theory 2: Infants teach
 Noam Chomsky & followers believe
  that language is too complex to be
  learned through step-by-step
 Believe that because infants all master
  basic grammar at about the same age,
  there is a human mental structure that all
  are born with that prepares them to
  incorporate aspects of language
Language Acquisition Device:
 Chomsky’s term for a hypothesized
  mental structure that enables humans to
  learn language, including the basic
  aspects of grammar, vocabulary, and
 Enables children worldwide to derive
  the rules of grammar from the speech
  they hear everyday (whether English,
  Tamil, Urdu, Chinese, or Xhosa)
This theory is accepted by many:
 Reflects the differences without
  ignoring language characteristics
 Reflects the fact that all languages are
  logical, coherent and systematic
 Believes that the brain expects
  language, and quickly and efficiently
  connects neurons to support whatever
  words an infant hears
 Works even with deaf infants who are
  taught signs
Third Theory: Social impulses
foster infant language learning
 Social-Pragmatic theory: says that
  neither behaviorism nor epigentic theory
  is correct--says that communication, the
  social reason for learning language, is
  most important
 Infants communicate because they are
  social beings dependent upon each other
  for survival, well-being, and joy
Social newborn:
 Newborns seek out human faces
 By 9 months, infants’ brain patterns
  indicate attention when they hear people
  talk to them
 The emotional content, not the words,
  are most important in early
 Communication is the servant of social
Social toddler:
 Social impulses propel toddler language
 Toddlers learn language much more
  quickly from human interaction than
  from television, even though they watch
 Thus social language acquisition is more
  meaningful than simply learning words
Hybrid theory:
 All three perspectives have merit
 Some of each theory has been
  demonstrated to work
 The important thing is that children are
  active learners, and that multiple factors
  are involved in learning language

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