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COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT

THROUGH THE LIFESPAN


Piaget
Vygotsky
Information Processing Models
WHAT IS COGNITION?

• All mental activities that are associated with processing, knowing,


remembering, and communicating
PERSPECTIVES ON COGNITIVE
DEVELOPMENT

• Piaget – active exploration


• Vygotsky – socially mediated
• Information Processing
• Accepts Piaget and Vygotsky, but how is information stored and accessed?
• How does it change over the lifespan?
JEAN PIAGET

• General theory of development  all aspects of cognition change in an


integrated, or similar, fashion
• Constructivist
• Stage theory
• Four universal, invariant stages:
• Sensorimotor (0-2 years)
• Preoperational (2-6 years)
• Concrete operational (6-11 years)
• Formal operational (12+ years)
STRUCTURE OF COGNITION

2 ears
• Schemes furry Four legs
• Organized ways of making sense of experience
tail
• Mental patterns, operations, systems
• Schemes change with age
• Based on action (motor) patterns
Doggie
• Later move to mental (internal depiction) level

• Schemes change through organization


• Internal rearranging and linking to schemes to create a strong, interconnected cognitive
system
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN CHILD SEES
THIS?
2 ears

furry
DOGGIE!!!

tail Four legs


ADAPTATION OF SCHEMES

Assimilation
• Use current schemes to interpret the
external world
Equilibrium
Equilibration
Accommodation
• Adjust old schemes or create new ones
that better fit with environment
Assimilation

Accommodation
ASSIMILATION ACCOMMODATION

• With preexisting mental structures • No preexisting mental structure


(schemes)
• With restructuring – tried something but
• No restructuring – overall beliefs and did not get expected reaction
understanding of the world do not
change as a result of the new information
• Change own belief or schemes to
“accommodate” new knowledge or
• Add or combine new knowledge to own information
scheme (existing mental structure)
ADAPTATION CYCLE

• Equilibrium Equilibrium
• State in which we do more assimilating
• New information fits into our exiting schemes
Equilibration
• Disequilibrium
• State in which we are doing more accommodating
• Rapid cognitive change
• Creating new schemes to accommodate information
• Equilibration – process of moving between equilibrium and
disequilibrium
PIAGET’S STAGES OF COGNITIVE
DEVELOPMENT

Sensorimotor Birth – 2 years

Preoperational 2-7 years

Concrete Operational 7-11 years

Formal Operational 11 years and older


SENSORIMOTOR: BIRTH TO 2 YEARS

• Children build schemes through


sensory and motor exploration
• Think with their senses (eyes, hands,
ears, mouth, nose)
• Do not “know” anything that they
cannot physically explore
CIRCULAR REACTIONS

• Babies have a new experience based


on their motor activity and they try
to repeat it again and again
• Strengthens into a scheme
• Starts with their own body, turns
outward, and eventually becomes
novel
SENSORIMOTOR SUBSTAGES

1 Reflexive Schemes Birth-1 month Newborn Reflexes


2 Primary Circular Reactions 1-4 mos Simple motor habits centered around own
body
3 Secondary Circular 4-8 mos Repeat interesting effects
Reactions
4 Coordination of Secondary 8-12 mos Intentional, goal-directed behavior; object
Circular Reactions permanence
5 Tertiary Circular Reactions 12-18 mos Explore properties of objects through novel
actions
6 Mental Represenations 18 mos – 2 years Internal depictions; deferred imitation
INTENTIONAL BEHAVIOR

• At 8-12 months, combine action schemes into more


complex sequences

• Their behaviors become more intentional and goal-


directed

• Combine two behaviors to meet goal


• e.g., pulling the blanket and grasping the hidden toy
OBJECT PERMANENCE

Understanding that objects


continue to exist when out
of sight
Babies in Substage 4 still
make the “A-not-B”
search error
LACK OF OBJECT PERMANENCE
OBJECT PERMANENCE
MENTAL REPRESENTATIONS

• 18-24 mos  mental representations


• Internal, mental depictions of information
• Arrive at solutions without having to physically experiment with possibilities
• Representations
• Images: objects, people, places
• Concepts; categories
• Can manipulate with mind
• Deferred imitation
• Make-believe play
VIOLATION OF EXPECTATIONS

• Violation of Expectation Paradigm


• Show babies an unexpected event and an expected
event
• If a baby pays more attention to the unexpected
event, he/she is surprised (indicating understanding)
• Conscious vs. unconscious?
VIOLATION OF EXPECTATIONS
VIOLATION OF
EXPECTATIONS

Babies as young as 2.5


months stare more at the
impossible situations,
suggesting they have object
permanence
SYMBOLIC UNDERSTANDING

• Displaced reference- words can cue mental


images of things that are not present
• Usually occurs at 12 months
• Symbolic use of pictures emerges in second year.
• While infants handle and touch pictures, 15- to 24-
month-olds begin to distinguish between real object
and picture.
• Begin using pictures to communicate
APPLICATION: TV VIEWING IN INFANCY

• About 40% of U.S. 3-month-olds watch television regularly (90% by


age 2).
• Infants confuse video images with reality.
• Studies show video deficit effect on toddlers:
• Poorer skill performance, deferred imitation, word learning, problem solving
after video viewing
• Seem to discount video as irrelevant because there is no direct interaction
• Experts recommend against mass media exposure before age 2½.
BRAIN CHANGE IN CHILDHOOD
TV AND LEARNING

• Background TV distracts from play, diminishing attention


• Entertainment TV distracts from other activities (reading,
homework, social play)
• Extensive TV exposure also linked to behavioral problems
and language delays, especially prior to age 3
TV AND LEARNING

• Time spend watching educational


programs is associated with
better academic progress in
elementary school
• BUT the format matters!
• Slow-paced, easy-to-follow stories
are better
PREOPERATIONAL STAGE (2-7 YEARS)

• Characterized by the increased use of mental


representations
• Language
• Piaget believed it developed from sensorimotor experiences
• First words?
• Make-believe play
• Dual representation
DEVELOPMENT OF MAKE-BELIEVE PLAY

• With age, make-believe gradually


becomes:
• More detached from real-life conditions
• Directed outward
• More socially complex
• Sociodramatic play- make-believe that involves
peers
BENEFITS OF MAKE-BELIEVE PLAY

• Develop understanding of others minds


• Peer interaction
• Social competence
• Attention, memory, logical reasoning
• Imagination, creativity
WHAT CHILDREN CAN’T DO IN THE
PREOPERATIONAL STAGE (LIMITATIONS)

• Cannot perform mental operations, or represent actions that obey logical


rules
• Cannot conserve
• Egocentrism and animistic thinking
• Lack hierarchical classification
CONSERVATION

• Certain physical
characteristics of objects
stay the same even when
the outward appearance
changes
LACK OF CONSERVATION
LACK OF CONSERVATION

• Centration
• Focus on one aspect and
neglect others
• Irreversibility
• Cannot mentally reverse a set
of steps 3+2=5
But not
5–3=2
EGOCENTRISM AND ANIMALISTIC
THINKING

• Egocentrism - failure to
distinguish others’ views
from one’s own

• Animistic thinking -
give thoughts, wishes, and
intentions to inanimate
objects
EGOCENTRISM

Theory of Mind
Sally-Anne Task
EGOCENTRISM

Lack of perspective-taking
Three Mountains Experiment
CONCRETE OPERATIONS (7-11 YEARS)

• Thought becomes more logical, flexible, and


organized
• Pass conservation tasks
• Decentration
• Reversibility
• Better at spatial reasoning
• Cognitive maps
• Map Skills
REVERSIBILITY
SPATIAL REASONING

• Cognitive maps – mental


representations of a large area
• Maps become better organized
in this period
• Experiences using maps
• Cultural differences depending on
everyday experiences in space
(walking vs. driving, e.g.)
CONCRETE OPERATIONS

• Operations/thoughts work best with concrete operations (problems with


abstract thought)
• Continuum of acquisition
• Number  liquid  mass  weight
LIMITATION OF PIAGET’S THEORY:
CULTURAL DIFFERENCES

• Culture and teaching practices affect performance on tasks.


• Conservation often delayed in tribal societies whose youth do not
attend school.
• Going to school gives experience with Piagetian tasks and with logic
• Relevant non-school experiences of some cultures can help.
• Suggests that these abilities do not emerge spontaneously,
but are affected by training and experiences.
FORMAL OPERATIONS (11 & OLDER)

• Abstract thought and concepts


• Love
• Politics
• Religion
• Formulate and test hypotheses – deductive
logic
• Systematic testing
• Scientific experiments
• Able to think about many viewpoints at
once
REASONING

• Begin with a
hypothesis and
deduce testable
inferences
• If…then statements
• Pendulum Problem
PROPOSITIONAL THOUGHT

• The ability to evaluate the logic of verbal propositions


without having to refer to real-world situations
• Use of symbol systems and verbal reasoning
• Algebra
ABSTRACT THOUGHT
HYPOTHETICAL QUESTION
DEDUCTIVE THOUGHT
IF..THEN
ADOLESCENT EGOCENTRISM

• Consequence of cognitive changes in


adolescence
• Self-consciousness
• Imaginary audience – the focus of everyone’s
attention; ”everyone is watching me”
• Pimples, glasses, stains on clothes
• Personal Fable – inflated opinion of their own
importance, uniqueness
IMAGINARY AUDIENCE
PERSONAL FABLE
CONSEQUENCES OF ADOLESCENT COGNITIVE CHANGES

• Idealism and Criticism


• Decision-making
• Better than children
• More sensitive to immediate
rewards and less sensitive to
risks/punishments when compared
to adults
IS FORMAL OPERATIONS UNIVERSAL?

• Domain-specific?
• Training, schooling, context – all contribute to formal operational thought

40-60% of One-third of adults


college students reach the formal
fail formal operations stage
operations tasks (Dasen, 1994)
EXAMPLE OF A FORMAL OPERATIONS TEST COLLEGE
STUDENTS FAIL

• I was looking at my friend’s rose garden. He had been


spraying his rose leaves with a chemical to kill a leaf
disease. I saw sprayed leaves which were healthy and I
saw unsprayed leaves, some of which were diseased
and some healthy.
• Can I say anything definite about the effect of the spray on the
disease?
• Why do you think so?
AREA OF EXPERTISE

• Researchers gave college


students the pendulum
problem, a political
problem, and a literary
criticisms problem.
• Results differed based on
major.
PIAGET’S STAGES

• Think with senses


Sensorimotor • Behavior becomes more intentional (circular reactions)
• Object permanence comes online

• Mental representations (pretend)


Preoperational • Intuitive , non-logical (e.g., lack conservation)
• Egocentric

Concrete • Logical about concrete information


• Conservation online
Operational • Better spatial reasoning

• Logical about abstract information


Formal Operational • Hypothetico-deductive and propositional reasoning
OVERALL EVALUATION OF PIAGET’S
THEORY

• Young children are more competent than Piaget assumed


• Cognitive development is not always self-generating – and it is
socially-mediated.
• Cognition is not as stage-like as Piaget believed.
• Piaget’s change processes – assimilation, accommodation, and
organization – cannot fully account for the pattern of change.
• BUT Piaget’s theory still inspires and even guides
research.
POST-PIAGET:
POST-FORMAL THOUGHT

• Cognitive Dissonance
• Problem-finding and solving
• Relativistic Thinking
• Transition in College (absolutes  confusion  commitment = choose one
alternative)
• Dialectical Thinking
• Resolve contradictions among opposing ideas
• Thesis + antithesis  synthesis
LEV VYGOTSKY:
SOCIOCULTURAL THEORY
Lev Vygotsky
1896 – 1934

• Cognition is based on:


• Social interactions
• Language
• Culture
• Rapid language growth leads to changes in thinking
• Social dialogues
• Culturally relevant tasks
CHILDREN’S PRIVATE SPEECH

• Piaget called this “egocentric speech”


• Vygotsky viewed language as the foundation for all higher cognitive
processes
• Private speech is self-guiding
• Used more when tasks are difficult, after errors, or when confused
• When the task is TOO challenging, children will not use private speech
• Gradually becomes silent (internal)
• Children with learning and behavior problems use longer
PRIVATE SPEECH
ZONE OF PROXIMAL DEVELOPMENT

• A range of tasks the child


cannot do alone, but can learn
with help
• Social interaction with adults
or more expert peers help
learning/growth
SCAFFOLDING IN THE “ZONE”
SOCIAL INTERACTIONS FACILITATE
LEARNING

• Intersubjectivity • Scaffolding
• Process by which participants who begin a • Adjusting the support offered during an
task with different understandings arrive at activity to fit the child’s ability/performance
a shared understanding
• ”Are we on the same page? No? Then let’s
• Guided Participation
get there.” • Shared endeavors between expert and less
• Find common ground expert participants (not deliberate teaching)

• E.g., mutual gaze, seeking help, asking for


other’s thoughts/opinions
VYGOTSKY AND MAKE-BELIEVE PLAY

• Provides zone of proximal development


• Imaginary situations help children act in accord
with internal ideas, not just external world
• Rules of play strengthen capacity to think before
acting
• Helps children understand social norms and
expectations
VYGOTSKY AND EDUCATION

• Piaget stressed independent discovery


• Vygotsky stressed assisted discovery
• Teachers
• Guide learning
• Tailor help to zone of proximal development
• Peer collaboration
COOPERATIVE LEARNING

• Small groups of classmates work


towards common goals
• Intersubjectivity
• Better when one peer is more expert
• Cultural variations in ability to learn
cooperatively
• Enhances peer relationships
EVALUATION OF VYGOTSKY’S THEORY

• Helps explain cultural diversity in cognition


• Emphasizes importance of teaching
• Focus on language deemphasizes observation, other
learning methods
• Says little about biological contributions to cognition
• Vague in explanation of change
INFORMATION PROCESSING
APPROACH TO COGNITION
INFORMATION PROCESSING

• An approach focused on understanding the mechanisms of change -- how


children (and adults) operate on information

• Mind is a complex symbol-manipulating system

• Computer as a metaphor for human mental functioning


ONE MODEL OF
THE HUMAN
INFORMATION
PROCESSING
SYSTEM Working
Memory
DEVELOPMENTAL COMPONENTS
(THINGS THAT IMPROVE WITH AGE)

• Working memory capacity


• Number of items that can be held in the mind while manipulating or
monitoring those items
• Predictive of achievement
• Individual differences at all ages
• Processing Speed
• E.g., reading
• Executive Function
• Cognitive operations and strategies necessary for purposeful behavior
• Controlling attention, organizing thoughts & behaviors
WHY THINGS CHANGE OVER TIME

• Brain development over time • Knowledge about memory


• More synapses • Learn individual limits
• More efficient pathways • Memory strategies – knowing
when to use what
• Stages of Memory
• Mediation Deficiency – no
• Knowledge about the world
memory and how it works
• Production Deficiency – memory • Greater knowledge base
but reproduction issues increases our ability to learn
• Mature Memory – remembering
NEO-PIAGETIAN

• Accepts Piaget’s stages


• Change within each stage due to increased working
memory capacity
• Brain development
• Practice with schemes and automatization
• Formation of central conceptual structures
• Networks of concepts and relations that permit them to think
about a wide range of situations in more advanced ways
MEMORY

• Our ability to remember things changes over time.


• Creating easy ways for kids to remember things can help with development of
habits, etc.
EPISODIC MEMORY

Recall of personally experienced


events
Limited in infants and toddlers
Retrieval is better at ages 3-4
EPISODIC MEMORY:
SCRIPTS

• Repeated events, usually in causal order


• More elaborate with age
• Help children
• Organize and interpret
• Predict
• Recall
• Pretend
• Plan
EPISODIC MEMORY:
AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL

• Long-lasting representations of • Elaborative – build on child’s


one-time events statements, asking varied questions
that help child build timeline
• Self-image  basis usually develops
• Children with parents who elaborate recall
around age 2 more later
• Time-oriented life story • Elaborative style helps child build sense of
self
• Parents help develop narrative
• Repetitive – same questions • Individual Differences
• Gender
• Culture
WHAT’S YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY?
INFANTILE AMNESIA

• Inability to retrieve events that happened to us before age 2


• May reflect the nonverbal nature of infants’ and toddlers’ memory processing

I swear. This is
the first time
I’ve seen
these blocks.
LIMITATIONS IN EPISODIC MEMORY

• Preschoolers’ testimonies tend to be less reliable than


school-aged children’s because
• Language skills
• Difficulty understanding when things happen
• Poor source-monitoring
• Bias towards encoding specifics (forget more)
• Less skill with autobiographical narratives
• More suggestible
• More agreeable
SUGGESTIBILITY

• Inaccurate reporting by children and


adolescents in court is more likely to occur
when
• adults repeat questions,
• use a confrontational questioning style,
• suggest incorrect “facts,”
• or provide reinforcement for giving desired answers
EYEWITNESS MEMORY

• It depends on the interview.


• When properly questioned, children can be accurate.
• When adults are faced with a biased interview, they may also develop false memories
(crashed vs. hit)
• Best to encourage the child to disagree and to ask unbiased open-ended
questions
RESEARCH ON
CHILD
EYEWITNESS
TESTIMONY

At the first interview, almost no one said Sam did it.


25% said Sam could have done it, but they didn’t see him
do it.
SAM STONE STUDY: CAN ADULTS
DISCERN FALSE INFORMATION?

• Child #1 (3-year-old, female) asserted spontaneously and with seeming


pleasure that Sam had tossed things in the air, ripped a book, soiled a bear,
and been accompanied by more than one ”Sam Stone”
• Child #2 (4-year-old, female) asserted Sam Stone came into the room, said
hello, and walked around the room before exiting.
• At prompting, she denied knowing anything about a bear or a book.
• Child #3 (5-year-old, male)
• Initially answered that Sam simply came in the room and looked around
• Answered prompting questions that Sam had ripped the page of a book and had
painted ice cream all over a teddy bear in the school yard with a nearby
paintbrush
METACOGNITION

• Awareness and understanding of various aspects of thought


• Expands during early and middle childhood
• Develops with:
• Theory of mind (“mind reading”) - an understanding of others as mental
beings
• Knowledge of:
• Cognitive capacities
• Strategies
INFORMATION PROCESSING IN
ADULTHOOD

• Speed of information processing – reaction


time tasks  performance begins to decline
in middle adulthood
• Memory – verbal memory begins to decline
• Linked to changes in working memory and
ineffective memory strategies
EXPERTISE

• Rely on accumulated experience


• Process information automatically and
analyze it more efficiently
• Have better strategies and shortcuts to
solving problems
• Are more creative and flexible in solving
problems
• Baltes  people find the most optimal way
to compensate for age-related physical and
cognitive deficits
MULTIDIMENSIONALITY AND
MULTIDIRECTIONALITY

• Cognitive Mechanics – speed and accuracy of processes


• Declines begin
• Individual variation based on use
• Divided attention abilities decline
• Cognitive Pragmatics – skills like reading/writing, language
comprehension, educational qualifications; mastery and
coping skills
MEMORY

• Explicit memory – facts and experiences individuals consciously know and can state
• Declines with age
• Implicit memory – skills and routine procedures performed automatically
• Less likely to be adversely affected by aging
• Working memory and source memory – decline with age
USE IT OR LOSE IT!

• Mental activities can benefit


maintenance of cognitive
skills
• Reading, crossword puzzles,
going to lectures and concerts
• Mental exercise has been
related to slower cognitive
decline and less of a chance
of Alzheimer’s