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Chapter Six . The First Two Years: Cognitive Development. PowerPoints prepared by Cathie Robertson, Grossmont College. Sensorimotor Intelligence. Sensoritmotor intelligence —active intelligence causing babies to think while using senses and motor skills.

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Chapter Six

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Chapter six

Chapter Six

The First Two Years:

Cognitive Development

PowerPoints prepared by Cathie Robertson, Grossmont College

Sensorimotor intelligence

Sensorimotor Intelligence

Sensoritmotor intelligence—active intelligence causing babies to think while using senses and motor skills

Stages 1 and 2 primary circular reactions

Stages 1 and 2: Primary Circular Reactions

The feedback loop involving the infants own body; infant senses motion and tries to make sense of it

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.

Stages 1 and 2 primary circular reactions cont1

Sucking as a Stage-Two Adaptation

begin adapting at about one month

reflexive assimilation

Stages 1 and 2: Primary Circular Reactions, cont.

Stages 3 and 4 secondary circular reactions

Stages 3 and 4: Secondary Circular Reactions

feedback loop involving people and objects

Stage 3 = Making Interesting Events Last



Stage 4 = New Adaptation and Anticipation

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 Experimentation

little scientist

Stages 5 and 6: Tertiary Circular Reactions

Stages 5 and 6 tertiary circular reactions cont

Stage 6 = New Means Through Mental Combinations

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

Stages 5 and 6: Tertiary Circular Reactions, cont.

Piaget and modern research

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

Information Processing



Affordances—opportunities for perception and interaction offered by environment

How something is perceived and acted upon depends on

past experiences

current developmental level

sensory awareness of opportunities

immediate needs and motivation

Sudden drops

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 appearance

boundaries of three-dimensional objects

Movement and people

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 change

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 younger


Memory cont

Very early memories possible if

situation similar to real life

motivation high

special measures aid retrieval by acting as reminders

Memory, cont.

Reminders and repetition

Reminders and Repetition

Reminder session—any perceptual experience that helps a person recall an idea or experience

A little older a little more memory

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

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






“memorized” facts

Language what develops in two years

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

The Universal Sequence of Language Development

First noises and gestures

First Noises and Gestures

Baby talk—high-pitched, simplified, and repetitive ways adults talk to babies





deaf babies do it later and less frequently, but are more advanced in use of gestures

First words

First word and sentences at age of 1 year

First Words

The language explosion and early grammar

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 learning

Theories of Language Learning

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

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


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 vocabulary

infants innately ready to use their minds to understand and speak whatever language offered to them

they are experience expectant

Theory 2: Infants Teach Themselves

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






Theory Three: Social Impulses Foster Language

Chapter six

A Hybrid Theory

  • Emergentist coalition—combination of valid aspects of several theories

    • cortex contains many language centers

    • nature provides several paths to learning language

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