Developmental psychology
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Developmental Psychology. The study of YOU from womb to tomb. We are going to study how we change physically, socially, cognitively and morally over our lifetimes. 77-82 Work centers on:. Nature/Nurture Continuity/Stages Stability/Change. Research Methods. Cross-Sectional Studies.

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Developmental Psychology

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Developmental Psychology

The study of YOU from womb to tomb.

We are going to study how we change physically, socially, cognitively and morally over our lifetimes.

77-82Work centers on:

  • Nature/Nurture

  • Continuity/Stages

  • Stability/Change

Research Methods

Cross-Sectional Studies

Longitudinal Studies

One group of people studied over a period of time.

  • Participants of different ages studied at the same time.

Prenatal Development

  • Conception begins with the drop of an egg and the release of about 200 million sperm.

  • The sperm penetrates the eggs surface.

Genetics (a review)

  • genotype

  • phenotype

  • what happens when genotype offers conflicting info?

    • Dominant gene will be displayed.

    • Recessive characteristic (ex: blue eyes) – both parents genotype is recessive

  • Sex chromosomes – recessive characteristics only seen in one gender

    • Occurs on 23rd chromosome – determines gender

The Zygote

  • Once the sperm penetrates the egg- we have a fertilized egg called……..

The first stage of prenatal development. Lasts about two weeks and consists of rapid cell division.


  • Less than half of all zygotes survive first 2 weeks.

  • About 10 days after conception, the zygote will attach itself to the uterine wall.

  • The outer part of the zygote becomes the placenta (which filters nutrients).

After two weeks, the zygote develops into an….


  • Lasts about 6 weeks (weeks 3-8).

  • Heart begins to beat and the organs begin to develop.

    • Amniotic sac – where embryo housed

    • Umbilical cord – attaches embryo/fetus to placenta

Fetus-3 months +

  • The fetus by about the 6th month, the stomach and other organs have formed enough to survive outside of mother.

    • 3 months – fetus can move arms, legs, mouth, head

    • 4th month – mother experiences quickening

    • 5th month – distinct sleep-wake cycle

    • 6th month – brain activity similar to a newborn baby. Can hear.

    • 7 month on- growth slows, body systems active, body fat increases


  • Teratogens

    • Chemical agents that can harm the prenatal environment.

    • Alcohol (FAS)

    • Other STDs can harm the baby…..

    • HIV

    • Herpes

    • Genital Warts

    • up to 2:28

    Healthy Newborns

    • Turn head towards voices .

    • See 8 to 12 inches from their faces.

    • Gaze longer at human like objects right from birth.

    • Reflexes

    • Inborn automatic responses.

    • Rooting/sucking

    • Grasping

    • Moro


    • Babinski


    The Brain and Infancy 82-86

    • Born with all brain cells we’ll ever have at birth

      • Still need to form connections with outside world

      • Minutes after birth, babies will turn head towards mother’s voice

    • Although the brain does not develop many new cells, the existing cells begin to work more efficiently- forming more complex neural networks.

    Maturation & Memory

    • Physical growth, regardless of the environment.

    • Although the timing of our growth may be different, the sequence is almost always the same.

    • Memory – not fully developed until after 3 years because neural circuitry not connected yet.

      • “infantile amnesia” – ages 3 and before

      • Implicit skill memories and attachment

    Experience & Brain

    • Nature vs Nurture

      • Baby rats in enriched vs impoverished environments- enriched had increased neural circuitry

      • Myelination – reinforced neural connections, “use it or lose it” principle

      • Infant Touch-faster growth

      • Experience nurtures nature

    • Plasticity

      • Brain is not hard-wired

      • Can regenerate/compensate after damage

      • Younger brain = more plastic


      • Hemispherectomy??

    Motor Development

    • Sequence is the same- but once again timing varies.

    • First learn to roll over, sit up unsupported, crawl, walk etc…

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