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Define: sensitive period

a time period in development when an organism is more responsive to certain environmental stimuli or experiences.


Examples of sensitive periods?

oral language acquisition; early visual and auditory stimulation; coordination of vision and movement.


Can learning occur outside of sensitive periods?



What happens when learning occurs outside of sensitive periods?

o Take longer
o Be more difficult
o Be less successful


Describe the sensitive period for oral language acquisitoin

• The sensitive period for learning to speak our native language is up to 12, declining after 7.
• From birth, we can tell apart differences in sounds for all languages.
• Age 1: more sensitive to differences in sounds in our own language, and less in others.


Describe the sensitive period for learning second languages

• Will be able to speak like a native if learnt before 5-7.
• Sometimes if learnt in early adolescence, a 2nd Broca’s area is formed next to the original.


In terms of neurons and synapses, what do sensitive periods indicate?

• Indicates that there are periods where some synaptic connections and neural pathways are most easily formed, assuming there is exposure to the environmental stimulus
o Furthermore the proliferation of synapses may reflect the brain preparing itself to respond to certain expected experiences.


Define: experience expectant learning

): learning that occurs when the brain encounters the experience that is expected, ideally in a sensitive period; in turn, the particular experience contributes to the brain’s development (for examples see above)


When does experience expectant laerning occur? is it species wide?

Infancy/early childhood; yes


Explain how experience expectant learning contributes to noraml brain development

Experience usually occurs as a part of normal development. Brain expects the experience to occur, stimulating changes occurring as a part of normal development (species wide). If the experience doesn't occur, the brain might not develop as it should.


Define: experience-dependent learning

learning that is dependent on exposure to a specific experience at any time during development – ie. adaptive plasticity.