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Developmental psychology

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Lecture 3
Lifespan Growth and Motor Development (University of South Australia)
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Lifespan Growth and Motor Development
Lecture Module C
Brain Development
o
Prenatal (first 3 months)
 Neurogenesis
development of neural stem cells →100 billion
nerve cells
 escalates exponentially
 Only those that connect with others survive
o
From birth
 Synaptogenesis
development of synapses—between axons of one
cell and dendrites of another
 Rapid increase in the connections between cells
to more than adult numbers
 Synaptic pruning—frequently used connections
are strengthened and infrequently used are
discarded
During childhood—adult
 Myelination
a myelin sheath facilitates the chemical and
electrical signal from the dendrite to the axon— ↑
psychomotor, processing speed of the axon
 Some CNS areas take longer to develop i.e.
frontal cortex, hippocampus—limbic system,
processing of memories
Early Brain Development
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Neuron proliferation—250,000/min to birth
Neuron migration to parts of brain—complete at
birth
Neuron differentiation—varies due to termination
point
Synaptogenesis—heavily influenced by early life
experiences
Neuron death—half die soon after birth
o neurons
proliferated
magnificently—
effectively die off, only using cells and
connections one needs (depending on the
environment)
Central nervous system development
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Neonate forms new cells until second month after
birth
Neurons continue to mature
Myelination continues until puberty
Large areas of the brain are dysfunctional - but as
cerebral cortex develops more complex motor
and intellectual functioning becomes possible
Sensory Capabilities of the Newborn
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Sensory systems are present before birth
Many highly developed
Types of receptors
o
Intero/enteroreceptors—sense
stimuli
from within i.e. blood pressure, hunger,
thirst
Exteroceptors—sensory stimuli from
environment i.e. light, sound
Proprioceptors—detect
tension
in
muscles and tendons
Development of sensation

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Anatomical development of eye, ear, nose and
tongue and their nervous systems are well
developed by six months of pregnancy
Maturation proceeds from sense organ to cortex
Achieve functional development in sequence—
touch, taste, smell, hearing, sight, balance
Sensitive to motion, visually aware, acuity of
30cm, sweet tastes, sound roughly close to
human voice pitch
Sensory systems in the newborn:
Level of development
Sensory System
Vision
Hearing
Smell—olfactory
Taste—gustatory
Somatosensory
Tactile—light
touch, pressure,
temperature, pain
Vestibular
Proprioception
Vision

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Poor
development

Good
development
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Least developed sensory system in infancy.
o Some colour at birth.
Visual pursuit—1-2 weeks
Depth perception—2-3 months
Acuity (ability to discriminate detail) close to adult
—6-7 months
Learning to see
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Shift from response to light, movement or high
contrast edges selective attending, organising
detail into patterns i.e. features of a face
Prefers people to objects
Eye contact coupled with limb movements to
engage adult—3m
Holds rattle and brings into visual field—4-6m
Increase in density of synapses (connections
between nerve cells (neurones)) in visual cortex
rapid to 8m
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Vision and meaning—perception
Perception—linkage of sensation to meaning
Close objects stimulate reach and grasp
Abstraction—learn that objects still exist even
when disappear from view—6-12m
Start to understand that a picture represents an
object
Follows gaze of parent to object
Looks at object to indicate wants
Shows object to parent
Learns about object from parent’s response
 Intentional behaviour (8-18m)
o Beginning of problem solving. i.e. able to
uncover a hidden toy, pull a toy on a string
o Imitation of adult actions
o Try different actions to achieve an
outcome
 Mental representation (18-24m)
o Create mental pictures (images) of
objects, people, places and concepts by
grouping together similar objects/events.
o Experiment with actions ‘in their heads’
not just trial and error
Hearing
 At birth—able to discriminate a wide range of
sounds i.e. 3 day old baby prefers to listen to
mother’s voice than strangers
 Auditory nerve is well myelinated
 Auditory cortex less well developed
Pre-operational stage (2- 7 years)
 Symbolic representation—allow one object to
stand for another
 Children develop language and ‘pretend play’
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Smell and taste
 Able to discriminate smells and taste at birth
o Sweet
o Sour
o Bitter
o Salty
o Umami—taste of protein
Vestibular
 Well developed at birth
 Semicircular canals in inner ear detect movement
(linear & angular acceleration)
 Important for development of postural control
Proprioception
 Touch and pain well developed but sensors in
joints and muscles poorly developed at birth.
 Important for development of postural control
Cognitive theories of development
1. Piaget’s Cognitive –Developmental
Build schemes through direct interaction with the
environment
Adaptation
Assimilation—use current schemes to interpret the
world
Accommodation—create/adjust old schemes when
new information doesn’t fit
Organisation
Link schemes together internally to develop cognitive
system
Sensorimotor stage (Birth – 24 months)
 Repeating chance behaviours (birth – 8m)
o Actions maybe reflex initially but baby
starts to volitionally repeat to get the
visual/auditory/tactile response
Concrete operational (7-11 years)
 Reasoning becomes logical
 Understand conservation
 Able to classify objects
Formal Operational (11 years on)
 Thinking becomes abstract
 Able to analyse verbally without relying on real
world experiences
Cognitive development-language
First 1 year
 Baby changes from reflexive to self-assertive,
purposeful, problem solving being and has begun
to master language.
 Cognition and language mutually support each
other (Berk 2007 p. 151)
 One year—one-word sentences
 Start to represent the world with symbols most
importantly language
 Extend object permanence to consistencies of
many types
Theories
 Behaviourist—Skinner Sounds are reinforced by
parents and shaped to resemble words.
 Nativist—Chomsky Language Acquisition Device
(LAD) is wired in the brain. Contains universal
rules for grammar.
 Interactionist—Interactions
between
inner
capacities and environmental influences
 Social interaction where child strives to
communicate, which cues caregivers to provide
language experiences that link structure and
content with the social context
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Milestones of Language Development during the first
2 years
Approx. Age
Milestone
2m
Infants coo, making pleasant vowel
sounds
4m
Infants observe caregiver playing
turn-taking games
6m
Infants babble, adding consonant
sounds
8-12m
Infants comprehend some words
Establish joint attention with
caregiver who names objects
Infants use preverbal gestures i.e.
showing, pointing, waving bye
Temperament and personality
TEMPERAMENT
Activity Level—motor activity and proportion of
active and inactive periods
Rhythmicity—predictability of biological functions
Approach withdrawal—response to new stimulus
Adaptability—overall not immediate response to a
new situation
Sensory threshold—level of sensory stimulation
needed to get a response
Quality of Mood—relative proportions of positive and
negative moods
Intensity of reactions—energy level for persons
response
Distractibility—degree to which outside stimuli
interfere in ongoing behaviour
Persistence—continuation of activity in face of
obstacles
Attention—length of time an activity is pursued in
face of interruption
Personality—an individual’s disposition to respond
and distinctive mode of behaviour
Temperament—Personal
characteristics
and
behaviour dispositions (more permanent but not
unchanging)
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