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Cognitive Development in Infancy

Lifespan Development

Jill Murphy

on 23 September 2013

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Transcript of Cognitive Development in Infancy

Nature vs. Nurture

We are born with our own distinct genetics (nature).

It is up to our environment and ourselves to treat and control (nurture) them.

Cognitive Development in Infancy
By: Jillian Murphy & Emily Deller
Next Exit
Road to
Cognitive Maturity
Cognitive Changes
Learning, Categorizing, and Remembering
The Beginnings of Language
Measuring Intelligence in Infancy

Cognitive Changes
Sensorimotor Stage
Piaget's view of the first two years of life
Marked by 6 substages of cognitive growth
Infants use information from their senses and motor actions

Substage 1: (0-1 month)
Entirely tied to the immediate present
Forget events from one to the next
Do not appear to plan
Substage 2: (1-4 months)
Coordination between looking & listening, reaching & looking, and reaching & sucking
Defined by primary circular reactions
Substage 3: (4-8 months)
Defined by secondary circular reaction
Baby repeats some action in order to trigger a reaction
Substage 4: (8-12 months)
Begins to understand casual connections
High exploratory stage
Means-end behavior
Ability to keep a goal and devise a plan to achieve it
Ex: Moving a toy out of the way to get to another toy
Substage 5: (12-18 months)
Focused exploration
Purposeful experimentation
Defined by tertiary circular reactions
Don't simply repeat the behavior but experiment with variations
Ex: Trying multiple facial expressions and sounds to see if mom will smile; dropping a toy from several heights to make different sounds
Substage 6: (18-24 months)
Ability to manipulate mental symbols (words or images)
Generate solutions to problems by thinking about them
No longer need trial-and-error behavior
Cannot be left unsupervised
Means-end behavior becomes more sophisticated
Ex: 24 month old and cookie jar
Object Permanence
Learning, Categorizing,
and Remembering
Conditioning and Modeling
Schematic Learning
The Beginnings of Language
Theoretical Perspectives
Behaviorist View
B.F. Skinner
Language development begins with babbling
Babbling resembles words → Reinforcement → Increase in frequency
Parents respond to grammatical uses of words
Adults reinforce all vocalizations
Based on assumptions of Operant Conditioning

Theoretical Perspectives
Nativist View
Noam Chomsky
Children learn grammar rules before learning their exceptions
Language Acquisition Device (LAD)

Dan Slobin
Babies are pre-programmed to pay attention to the beginning and endings of strings of sounds and to stressed sounds

Theoretical Perspectives
Interactionist View
Melissa Bowerman
-Children’s language follows rules because it is part of the broader process of cognitive development
Explanations include both internal and external factors

-Infants are born with a biological preparedness

-The Infant’s brain has a generalized set of tools

Influences on Language Development
Infant-directed speech (IDS)
Can discriminate as young as a few days old
Carries across languages
Helps infants identify the sounds of their mother’s voice
Important to grammar development

More use = More development

Effects of poverty
Catherine Snow

Early Milestones of Language Development
First Sounds & Gestures
Word Recognition
The most common sound an infant makes till 1 month of age is a cry

Cooing (1 to 2 months)

Babbling (6 to 7 months)

Repertoire Narrows (9 to 10 months)

Gestures (9 to 10 months)

Store individual words (8 months)

Receptive Language: Understand 20-30 words (9 to 10 months)

Understand 100 words (13 months)

Expressive language (12 to 13 months)
Use specific contexts
Holophrases (12 to 18 months)
Naming explosion (16 to 24 months)
First develop names then action words

Develop around 18 to 24 months
Telegraphic speech

Individual Differences in
Language Development
Differences in Rate
Mean Length of Utterance (MLU)- the average number of meaningful units in a sentence
Individual Differences in Language Development
Differences in Style
Expressive Style
Oriented towards people and social interactions

Referential Style
More cognitively oriented

The child’s early language is a reflection of the type of language she is hearing

Language Differences Across Cultures
Babies coo before they babble, understand language before they speak it, and begin to use their first words at about 12 months

Specific word order is not the same for all languages

Noun/Verb vs. Verb/Noun sequence

Different inflections

Measuring Intelligence
in Infancy
Welcome to the City
Cognitive Development in Infancy

Enjoy your stay because
once you leave you can't come back!

Piaget's Research
The first sign of object permanence comes at about 2 months of age (substage 2)
Toy behind screen: babies show indication that they expected the toy to be there
In substage 2 babies don't look over edge of crib for dropped toy
Around 6-8 months (substage 3) babies will look over edge of crib to search for toy
Between 8 & 12 months (substage 4) infants will reach or search for toy that is completely hidden
By 12 months infants understand that objects exist event when they cannot see them
There are still limitations
A-not-B error
By substage 6, searching errors are resolved
The understanding that objects continue to exist when they cannot be seen
Piaget studied infants' ability to imitate the actions of others
As early as the first few months of life, infants could imitate what they could see themselves make
Ex: Hand gestures
Unable to imitate facial gestures until 8-12 months (further research disproves)
Deferred imitation- imitation that occurs in the absence of the model who first demonstrated it
Classical Conditioning
Operant Conditioning
Learning of emotional responses may begin as early as the first week of life
Ex: Inexperienced mothers nursing
Held newborns in ways that blocked nostrils
Response: Babies reflexively turned away from the breast and refused to nurse on the right/left side
Mavis Gunther (pediatrician)
Developed an intervention based on stimulus-response learning
Goal: Help babies "unlearn" the response of turning away
Newborns also learn by operant conditioning
Ex: Pacifier-Activated Lullaby (PAL) system
Improves preterm sucking-reflexes which leads to rapid weight gain
Rewards infants with music whenever the suck on the PAL pacifier
*The results of these studies show that neurological wiring needed for operant learning is present before birth

Infants can also learn by watching models in their second year.
Organization of experiences into expectancies, called schemas, which enable infants to distinguish between familiar and unfamiliar stimuli
Research suggests that by 7 months of age, infants actively use categories to process information
Ex: Ten animal pictures followed by either another animal picture or a human picture
Will not show surprise for another animal
Will show surprise for a human picture and spend more time looking at it

Infants build and use categories as they take in information

Categorical organization is not well developed in a 7-month old
Do not distinguish between lower-level and higher-level categories
Ex: Higher-level - "animals" includes lower-level - "dogs"
The category, "Animals," is considered a superordinate
7 or 8-month old views "animals" and "furniture" as different but not "dogs" and "birds"

Hierarchical categorization is demonstrated in some form by 2-year olds
Full understanding of this categorization is seen at age 5 and is linked to language development and experiences with using words as labels
Newborns appear to be able to remember auditory stimuli that they are exposed to while sleeping

Carolyn Rovee-Collier
Babies as young as 3 months of age can remember specific objects and their actions with those objects over periods as long as a week
Ex: Mobile over baby's crib and string
Findings suggest that young infants are more sophisticated than developmentalists and Piaget had proposed
Does support Piaget's view that infants show systematic gains in the ability to remember over the months of infancy

Early infant memories are strongly tied to the specific context in which the original experience occurred
Memories are highly specific

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