Chapter 6 - Metropolitan Community College

Human Growth
Chapter Six
The First Two Years:
Cognitive Development
PowerPoints prepared by Cathie Robertson, Grossmont College
Revised by Jenni Fauchier, Metropolitan Community College
Sensorimotor Intelligence
• Sensoritmotor intelligence—active
intelligence causing babies to think
while using senses and motor skills
Stages 1 and 2: Primary
Circular Reactions
• The feedback loop involving the
infants own body; infant senses
motion and tries to make sense of
• Stage 1 = Reflexes
• Stage 2 = First Acquired Adaptations
- adaptations of reflexes, i.e.,
sucking—new information taken in
by senses and responded to
Stages 1 and 2: Primary Circular
Reactions, cont.
• Assimilation and Accommodation
– assimilation—taking in new
information by incorporating it into
previous knowledge
– accommodation— intake of new data
to re-adjust, refine, expand prior
schema or actions
– babies eagerly adapt their reflexes
and senses to whatever experiences
they have
Stages 1 and 2: Primary Circular
Reactions, cont.
• Sucking as a Stage-Two Adaptation
– begin adapting at about one month
– reflexive assimilation
Stages 3 and 4: Secondary
Circular Reactions
• feedback loop involving people and
• Stage 3 = Making Interesting Events Last
- repetition
- awareness
• Stage 4 = New Adaptation and
- goal-directed behavior
- object permanence
Stages 5 and 6: Tertiary
Circular Reactions
• Feedback loop that involves active
experimentation and exploration
- involves creativity, action, and ideas
• Stage 5 = New Means Through Active
– little scientist
Stages 5 and 6: Tertiary Circular
Reactions, cont.
• Stage 6 = New Means Through Mental
– mental combinations—sequence of
mental actions tried out before
actual performance
– deferred imitation—perception of
something someone else does
(modeling), then performing action at
a later time
Piaget and
Modern Research
• Habituation—process of getting used to
an object or event through repeated
exposure to it
• fMRI—functional magnetic resonance
imaging measuring technique for brain
activity and neurological responses
• First three years are prime time for
cognitive development
Information Processing
• Information-processing theory—
perspective that compares human
thinking processes to computer analysis
of data, including sensory input, stored
memories, and output
• Affordances—opportunities for
perception and interaction offered by
• How something is perceived and acted
upon depends on
– past experiences
– current developmental level
– sensory awareness of opportunities
– immediate needs and motivation
Sudden Drops
• Visual cliff measures depth perception, which
is based not on maturity level but affordance
- depends on prior experience
• Object Constancy
- things remain what they are,
despite changes in perception or
- boundaries of three-dimensional
Movement and People
• Dynamic perception—1 of the 2
principles explaining infant perception;
namely, that from birth perception is
primed to focus on movement and
• 2nd principle explaining infant
perception is that babies are fascinated
by people
• Infants most interested in emotional
affordances of their caregivers
• Certain amount of experience and
maturation in order to process and
remember experiences
• In first year infants have great
difficulty storing new memories
• Older children often unable to describe
events that occurred when they were
Memory, cont.
• Very early memories possible if
– situation similar to real life
– motivation high
– special measures aid retrieval by
acting as reminders
Reminders and Repetition
• Reminder session—any perceptual
experience that helps a person recall an
idea or experience
A Little Older, A Little
More Memory
• After 6 months infants capable of
retaining information for longer periods
of time with less reminding
• Deferred imitation apparent after end
of first year
• By middle of the 2nd year, children
capable of remembering and reenacting
complex sequences
A Little Older, A Little More
Memory, cont.
• Memory is not just single entity; distinct
brain regions for particular aspects of
memory; humans have a memory for
– words
– images
– actions
– smells
– experiences
– “memorized” facts
Language: What Develops
in Two Years?
• Most impressive intellectual
achievement of young child and also
of all humans
The Universal Sequence
of Language Development
• Children around the world have the
same sequence of early language
development but
– timing and depth of linguistic
ability vary
First Noises and Gestures
• Baby talk—high-pitched, simplified, and
repetitive ways adults talk to babies
• Vocalization
– crying
– cooing
• Babbling
– deaf babies do it later and less
frequently, but are more advanced in
use of gestures
The Language Explosion
and Early Grammar
• Naming explosion—sudden increase in
infant vocabulary, especially nouns,
beginning at 18 months
• Holophrase—single word that expresses
a complete, meaningful thought
• Grammar—all the methods that
languages use to communicate meaning
Theories of Language
• Even the very young use language well
• Three schools of thought
– infants are taught language
– infants teach themselves
– social impulses foster infant language
Theory 1:
Infants are Taught
• Skinner’s reinforcement theory: quantity
and quality of talking to child affects
rate of language development (learned)
– parents are good instructors
– baby talk characterized by
• high pitch
• simpler vocabulary
• shorter sentence length
• more questions and commands
• repetition
Theory 2:
Infants Teach Themselves
• Chomsky and LAD (Language Acquisition
Device)—hypothesized neurological
(inborn) structure that prewires all
children for language, including basic
aspects of intonation, grammar, and
– infants innately ready to use their
minds to understand and speak
whatever language offered to them
– they are experience expectant
Theory Three:
Social Impulses Foster Language
• Social-pragmatic—social reason for
language: to communicate
• Infants seek to respond, which shows
their being social in nature— and thus
mutually dependent—by
- vocalizing
- babbling
- gesturing
- listening
- pointing
A Hybrid Theory
• Emergentist coalition—combination of
valid aspects of several theories
- cortex contains many language
- nature provides several paths to
learning language