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Piaget’s Constructive Theory

*the human mind constructs its knowledge
*Knowledge is constructed by the developing child (and adult)
*Children are intrinsically motivated to learn- active participant in the learning process, constantly seeking out and trying to make sense of new information
*A child’s active exploration to be organized and organizing
*Mental activity is organized and that the organization evolves in response to the environment
-Cognitive development in stages



* interpret new stimulation in ways that fit with what they already know, sometimes distorting it as a result
-New information is distorted or changed so that sense can be made of it



*as the new information is assimilated, the child’s existing knowledge may be modified somewhat, providing a better much or fit to what is new.


Domain specific

development can proceed at different rates in different domains
Domains- number concepts, morality, biological vs. physical realities



Actions or mental representations that organize knowledge
*Behavioral schemes (physical activities) characterize infancy
-Consist of simple actions that can be performed on objects
*Mental schemes (cognitive activities) develop in childhood
-Include strategies and plans for solving problems


Sensorimotor stage

Infant cognitive development lasting from birth to about age 2
-Infants understand the world through their sensory experiences


Habituation paradigm

baby’s tendency to orient to new stimulation and to habituate to repeated or old stimulation


Orienting response

look longer at new stimulus; suck more vigorously on the pacifier in her mouth, blood pressure and heart rate are likely to decrease from their previous base rate



grow bored with the stimulus after repeatedly present-> shorter looking times, less vigorous sucing and a return to base rate for heartbeat and blood pressure



a renewed orienting response


Preferential response paradigms

determine what they prefer to look at or listen to or taste


Visual acuity

*find the level of detail the baby can see
*Visual -adult like by 8 months old


Object concept

They need to know that objects have properties that can stimulate all of their senses: vision, hearing, taste, smell, and touch


Intersensory integration/cross-model match/intermodal perception

when young babies perceive an object in one way, they can construct some notion of the object’s other perceptual characteristics


Object permanence

they exist apart from the perceiver
*Capable of representational thought
*Developed by the end of the sensorimotor period


Representational thought

capacity to think about things or events that are not currently stimulating our senses


Hidden object test

*assess object permanence
*Infants younger than 8 to 12 months fail to search for the object
*Understanding object permanence has its rudimentary beginnings late in the 1st year of life and gradually improves thereafter
*Representational thought- the ability to form mental representations- is a sill that begins to develop only in the late months of the 1st year of life; improves through the 2nd year of life, until by the end of the sensorimotor period
*Children not only think about objects but can mentally plan their actions, solve simple questions “all in their heads”, remember past experiences= broad capacity for thinking


Joint attention

Individuals focus on the same object or event
*Requires an ability to track another's behavior (following another's gaze)
*One person directs another's attention
*Reciprocal interaction
*Emerge by 7 to 8 months


Recognition memory

*ability to differentiate between experiences that are new and experiences that we have had before
*Use habituation to assess
*When babies habituate to a stimulus that is repeatedly presented, they are showing us that the stimulus is becoming familiar
*Operent conditioning- recognition skills
*Capacity for recognition is already in place before birth
*Improves throughout infancy- duration of recognition, speed with which babies habituate increases
*Recognition speed is an early indicate of the efficiency with which a child may later process information



*Emerge later in infancy
*Ability to bring to mind an experience that has happened in the past
*The to-be-remembered experience is not presently occurring, but must be mentally represented
*Thinking that involves mental representation, is necesssary for recall


Deferred imitation

*children observe the actions of another on one occassion, and then imitate those actions sometimes later
*Not indicate recall unless there is a time delayed between observed action and imitation
*Piaget: begins around the middle of the baby’s 2nd year
*Can begin late in the 1st year but it does improve dramatically over the next year, both in duration and the complexity of what can be recalled
*Makes observational learning or modeling possible


Separation anxiety

* when parents leave a young baby with another caregiver, the baby typically does not seem to miss the absent parents or to mourn their loss while they are gone.
*In the second half of the 1st year, at about 8 months for most babies, leaving a child with another caregiver may be more difficult-> watch for the missing parents
*Child’s ability to recall the parents is increasing in duration
*Attributable to advances in basic cognitive skills- recall and object permanence


Mirror neurons

located primarily in motor cortex, were activated not only when a monkey performed a particular action, but also when the monkey saw someone else perform that action on an object.


Making interesting sights last

*if one of these behaviors accidentally produces an interesting event, a child is likely to notice the effect and repeat the action, as if she were hoping to repeat the effect
*Precursor of intentional behavior
*Simple operant conditioning
*After behavior occurs -> reinforcing event -> repeat behavior


Means-end behavior

*divert their attention from a goalto produce another actionthat will help achieve the goal
Requires mental representation, planning
*8-12 months


Executive functions (EFs)

*intentionally controlling our own behavior and thought- setting goals, determining what we will pay attention to, and choosing to make one response rather than another
Engage areas of prefrontal cortex- muturational gains late in the first year



*ability to act without an external trigger
*Act without being pushed or “launched” by some other force
*Begin to understand agency by the end of the 1st year



* internal mental state
*Source of an action
*Part of developing a theory of mind: understanding that other people have intentions, desires, feelings- more complex and difficult
*Using habituation task



stand-ins for other things
*First sign of thinking
*Children must be able to mentally represent the things being symbolized
*Representational skills grow -> language skill, pretend play



preoperational thought tends to be centered or focused on one salient feature of an experience or event at a time



take into account mutliple pieces of information simultaneously
*Observations can be discovered and represented
*Logical and sensible from an adult’s point of view
*Years from 5-7


Exploratory play

*Toddlers and young preschoolers
*Manipulate objects, check out their properties, sort and organize them
*Learn properties of objects, spatial relations, numerical relations, categorical relations



Groups of objects, events, and characteristics



Ideas about what categories represent


Perceptual categorization

3 month old can group together objects with similar appearances; habituation facilitates


Conceptual categorization

7-9 months
*Infants form categories that are global in nature
*By age 2, general concepts become more differentiated and can be categorized based on shape
*Intense, passionate interest in particular categories is more common in boys than girls


Preoperational egocentrism

*because preschoolers can think about only one thing at a time, they are centered on their own perspective and have no awarenesss of the possibility of a different perspective
*Perspective taking- theory of mind/”naive psychology”- understanding that people’s behavior is a function of their internal, subjective mental states
*Critical for developing satisfactory relationships with others
*First sign: use of mental words- emotions or desires
*“Level 1 visual perspective taking”- when a child knows whether an object can or ocannot be seen from a particular perspective
*“Level 2 visual perspective taking”- understand that someone else might see the same picture differently from herself -> reason more accurately about what other people may desire, believe or know
*Gradually making process- 3.5 to 5.5 years


False belief tasks

* how difficult they find it to escape their own perspective when it comes to what they know
*Most research on children’s theory of mind- preschoolers are less egocentric than Piaget inferred- on the other hand, he was on target in assuming that taking another’s perspective and understanding the limits for one’s own perspective are difficult
*When children’s own emotions are strongly involved, taking another’s perspective seems especially difficult.


Pretend play

*Advance theory of mind development
*Make believe
Begins at about age 2
*“As if” behavior, where objects or people may be treated as symbols, “as if” they were something or someone else
*Language improve -> planning and negotiating


Symbolic artifacts

analogical symbols- pictures or maps or scale
Similar to the things they represent
Concrete objects and symbols for others- difficult for young children
By age 3- fragile and easily disrupted



Sound system of the language



*At about 6 months
*Repeating consonant-vowels-consonant sequences
*Include most possible language sounds
*9 months-> matching their babbling sounds to the sounds of their native language -> depend on other people’s responses



* using our vocal cords to make some consonant sounds but not others
*Children master most sound distinctions by age 3- continue to struggle some aspects of phonology



which words and word parts express what meanings


Vocabulary spurt

at about 18-24 months, toddlers begin learning words very rapidly, expanding their productive vocabulary from 50 to about 500 words in just a few months


Fast mapping

the rapidity with which young children add new words to functional vocabulary after only one or two exposures


Slow mapping

working out the full details of a word’s meaning usually requires multiple exposures



*how to link words into meaningful sentences
*They learn these rules with little difficulty



*Social aspect of language
*how to use language effectively to communicate



*a story or event description that conveys the full sense of an experience or gets at the point of an event while taking in account what the listener needs to hear to understand
*Cognitive developments in perspective taking


Code switching

*shifting from using, say, slang with friends to using more polite forms with teachers
*What people really mean and the literal meaning not to be taken literally in most social exchanges


Elaborative style

*engaging in lengthy discussions about children’s past experiences, providing lots of details, asking questions and encouraging children to provide details as well -> children’s narratives tend to be more adequate and informative
*Children remember past events in their own lives better
*Narrative practice->Development of autobiographical memories


Language Acquisition Device (LAD; Noam Chomsky)

Theory that a biological endowment enables children to detect certain features and rules of language
*Children are prepared by nature to detect sounds of language & follow language rules
*Theoretical concept only
*Supporters of LAD cite the uniformity of language milestones across cultures
*Critics argue that the LAD cannot explain all of language developments


Environmental influences on language development

*Behaviorists claim language is a complex learned skill acquired through responses and reinforcements (Skinner)
*Children's vocabulary is linked to family socioeconomic status and the type of talk parents direct toward their children


Interaction view

Children learn language in specific contexts


Infantile amnesia

Difficulty we have remembering events in our lives earlier than about our 3rd or 4 year



*the culture or society into which one is born plays in the transmission of knowledge
*Human thinking was mediated by the tools humans use



*Anything about people use to help them think and learn
*Most important tool for Vygotsky-language



*signs are shaped and developed by others
*New signs are the products of cultural and historical mediation


Mediated learning

*child’s use of such tools or signs actually transforms thinking and shapes it into new kinds of thought
-Reminiscent of Piaget’s concepts of assimilation and accommodation


Scientific concepts

*learning culturally defined concepts
*Presented the learner with an internal organizational system for ideas and allowed the learner to utilize the ideas more efficiently



*enables the novices to read higher levels of thinking
*Educational- a more cognitively advanced individual with prompts, cues, and other supports to reach a point where the learner can manifest in actuality what had previously only been her potential
*Occurred in the intermental space between parent and child


Zone of proximal development

* a learner is able to grasp a concept or perform some skill only with support or scaffolding from someone else
*Would not yet be capable of the task on her own, but can do it with assistance.



*joint effort was possible because both shared certain kinds of information
*Focused attention on a common goal


Developmental lines

*Sociohistorical or cultural
*Natural, from within the infant


Egocentric speech

*talking aloud to the self, with no apparent communicative function
-No useful purpose
-Disappears with the growth of more mature language use
-Eminently useful purpose in human development
-Precursor to problem solving, planning ability, and self-regulation


Inner speech

*kind of internal dialogue that facilitates thinking


Private speech

Eventually becomes internalized or transformed into inner speech


Autism Spectrum

*No clear understanding of causes despite extensive research
*Difficulties in social development and impairments in communication
*Mental retardation