PSY230 | Child & Adolescent Psychology | Exam 2 Study Guide
Organization of the Mature Brain
The Nerve Cell
• Neuron: A cell that specializes in receiving and transmitting information. o Cell body: contains the biological machinery that keeps the cell alive. o Dendrite: The receiving end of the neuron (looks like a tree with many branches). o Axon: Sends information to other neurons
o The axon is wrapped in myelin, a fatty sheath that allows it to transmit information more rapidly.
▪ Myelination: process by which nerve cells become coated with myelin o At the end of the axon there are terminal buttons (look like small knobs), which release neurotransmitters (chemicals that carry information to nearby neurons). o The terminal buttons of one neuron don’t actually touch the dendrites of other neurons – the gap between them is called the synapse.
▪ Synaptogenesis: The formation of new synapses.
• Cerebral cortex: Wrinkled surface of the brain
o Consists of the left and right hemispheres, which are linked by the corpus callosum. Characteristics of your personality are controlled by specific regions in the cortex.
o Frontal cortex: Personality and ability to make and carry out plans.
o Lateralization: process by which each hemisphere of the brain takes on specific functions.
▪ Left hemisphere: Language, reason.
▪ Right hemisphere: Artistic ability, ability to recognize faces.
The Developing Brain
Structure We also discuss several other topics like What is the meaning of tensile fractures in rock deformation?
• Neural Tube
o Starts as neural plate, folds in on itself and becomes neural tube
o Forms between 19-27 days after conception
o Develops into the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord)
• Neurogenesis (formation of new neurons) happens rapidly during prenatal development. By week 28, the developing brain has virtually all the neurons it’ll ever have.
o Many of these neurons will die to make space for nearby neurons to form connections.
• The brain is built in stages, beginning with the innermost layers. Neurons in the deepest layer are positioned first, followed by the second layer and so on (6 layers = 7 month process). Don't forget about the age old question of What is the rate of change of temperature with height called?
o Myelination occurs in the 4th month.
o Evidence of myelination – as time goes by, children improve
• Downsizing – The brain weeds out unnecessary connections to make space for others that are being used.
o Synaptic pruning: Loss of unused synapses.
o Pruning is completed first for regions associated with sensory/motor functions. Growth of the Specialized Brain
• Methods of studying brain development
o Electroencephalography: measures brain’s electrical activity from electrodes placed on the scalp. Don't forget about the age old question of Why is culture considered as people's way of life?
▪ If a region of the brain regulates a function, the region should show
distinctive patterns of electrical activity while the child is using it.
o Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI): uses magnetic fields to track blood flow in the brain.
▪ Active brain regions need more oxygen, which increases blood flow to those regions.
Principles of Specialization
• Specialization occurs early on in development.
o Infant’s left hemisphere generates electrical activity in response to speech. • Specialization takes two forms.
o During development the brain regions active during processing become more focused.
o Kinds of stimuli that trigger brain activity shift from being general to being specific (recognizing faces)
• Different brain systems specialize at different rates.
o Basic sensory and perceptual processing regions specialize first. We also discuss several other topics like What was the cause for the emergence of modernization in europe?
o Systems for responsibility and self-control aren’t fully specialized until adulthood.
• Successful specialization requires stimulation from environment. If you want to learn more check out What does positive strain mean?
o Experience-expectant growth: Changes in the brain from environmental influences that typically occur at specific points in development and for all children.
▪ Experience visual patterns (faces) and sounds (voices).
o Experience-dependent growth: Changes in the brain due to experiences that are not linked to specific ages and that vary across individuals and across cultures. ▪ Learning a classmate’s name, learning a shortcut home, learning how to use a cell phone (all individual experiences that not every child goes Don't forget about the age old question of What is cultural anthropology today?
• The immature brain’s lack of specialization confers a benefit – greater plasticity. o Plasticity: Ability of the brain to change and adapt.
o Young children often recover more skills after brain injury than older children and adults.
Perceptual and Motor Development
Determining Perceptual Abilities
o When something new is presented, babies pay attention. But as it continues to be presented, it becomes familiar and they pay less attention to it.
o Being interested in one stimulus over another (ex. Determining visual acuity with plain and striped squares)
• Physiological reaction
o Heart rate, facial expression, eye movement, etc.
• Newborns have a keen sense of smell – respond positively to pleasant smells, negatively to unpleasant smells.
• Young babies can recognize familiar odors – Ex. Their own amniotic fluid, their mother’s breast milk.
• Newborns have a developed sense of taste – can differentiate between salty, sour, bitter, and sweet tastes (react positively to sweet and salty, negatively to sour and bitter).
• Infants are sensitive to changes in the taste of breast milk – nurse more after mother has consumed sweet-tasting substances.
• Newborns are sensitive to touch – shown through reflexes
• Pain-provoking stimuli elicits response that suggests that they are in pain – pain crying. Hearing
• The fetus can hear at 7-8 months after conception
• Testing for hearing: The infant sits on a parent’s lap, both wearing headphones. An observer, also wearing headphones, watches as tones are presented and how the child reacts to them.
o Auditory threshold: The quietest sound that a person can hear.
o Infants hear sounds best if they have pitches in the human range of speech. o By 4 ½ months they can recognize their own names.
o Some are born with partial hearing or deaf, others become deaf (meningitis) o For partially deaf children, cochlear implants are beneficial – electronic device placed in the ear that converts speech into electronic signals that stimulate nerve cells in the inner ear.
• Visual acuity is defined as the smallest pattern that can be distinguished dependably. o Infants like patterned stimuli over plain stimuli
o To estimate an infant’s acuity, plain squares are paired with stripped squares (gradually making the lines thinner). The infant should look at the patterned square. When they look at both squares equally, it indicates that they are no longer able to distinguish the stripes of the patterned stimulus.
o An infant’s visual acuity improves greatly over the first year.
o We detect wavelength (color) with specialized neurons called cones that are in the retina of the eye. Linked to the brain through complex circuits which allow us to see the world in color.
o Circuits begin to function in the first few months after birth, so by 3-4 months infants can see color.
Complex Perceptual and Attentional Processes
• Motion cues – elements that move together are usually part of the same object. • Size constancy: an object’s actual size remains the same despite changes in size of its retinal image (if someone walks away, you see them get smaller, but they aren’t actually getting smaller).
• Color, texture, aligned edges
o Pencil example – the pencil is covered so that the infant can only see the top and bottom. If the top doesn’t match the bottom, they believe that there are two different pencils behind the paper.
• Shape constancy – a door opening and appearing to change shape, but it is still a rectangle.
o Visual cliff: glass covered platform; on one side the pattern appears directly under the glass, on the other it appears several feet below.
▪ Infants who can crawl refuse to cross over the “cliff” – are fearful
▪ Infants who can’t crawl are placed on the “deep” side, and their heart beat slows (indicating fascination)
o Visual expansion, motion parallax, retinal disparity, etc.
• Impact of motor skills – infants can grasp, rotate and feel items to explore them. • Perceiving faces – babies depend on people to care for them, so they are attuned to human faces.
o 3 month olds prefer to look at people from their own race, but recognize others. o 6 month olds fail to recognize faces of people from other races (precise configuration of faces).
• Refers to the process of controlling input from the environment and regulate behavior. o Alerting network – keeps senses prepared to respond to incoming stimuli. o Executive network – monitors thoughts feelings and responses as well as
resolving conflicts that may occur. (most complex, takes long time to develop) Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
• Characterized by hyperactivity, inattention, impulsivity.
• Can have negative effects on a child’s life.
• Can be managed with ongoing monitoring and treatment.
• Moving about in the world.
• Posture and balance – walking requires adjusting posture and balance constantly. Because of these complex movements, children often fall as they walk. Sitting and crawling also require adjustments in posture and balance, so it is natural for a child that can walk to also fall over when they crawl.
• Stepping – Requires shifting weight from one foot to the other. Infants (6-7 months) know to step on each leg, which demonstrates that they know the components of walking before actually being able to walk.
• Environmental cues – infants adjust to environment. They judge if a surface is suitable and safe for walking. If they can’t tell whether it is safe, they depend on adults for help. • Requires coordination
Reaching and Grasping
• Infants start reaching for objects and grasping them early on, but it isn’t a smooth motion.
• As they grow older, they begin to coordinate. Ex. Using both hands to accomplish one goal, reaching for objects with just one hand, and two when appropriate. • This contributes to feeding themselves
o Putting finger foods in their mouths
o Feeding themselves with a spoon
• Whether a child is right or left-handed is a combination of heredity and environment. Physical Fitness
• Being active physically has many benefits for children – promotes growth of muscle and bone, cardiovascular health and cognitive processes, and can help establish a lifelong pattern of exercise.
• Participating in sports is linked to many benefits – fitness, enhanced self-esteem, learning social skills, etc.
Theories of Cognitive Development
• Classical conditioning
o Pavlov’s dogs
▪ Unconditioned stimulus (food) ???? Unconditioned response (salivating) ▪ Neutral stimulus (bell) was rung before dog was presented with food. After a number of repeats, the bell was rung on its own without
presenting food, and the dogs would salivate in anticipation.
▪ Conditioned stimulus (bell) ???? Conditioned response (salivating)
o Little Albert (Watson)
▪ Little Albert was shown pictures of animals, and he responded
indifferently. But when a hammer was struck on a steel bar, he would
startle and cry.
▪ He was then presented with a white rat, and a few seconds later the steel bar would be hit.
▪ After repetitions over a period of time, Little Albert would cry/show fear at the sight of the white rat, whether or not the steel bar was hit.
• Operant conditioning
o Reinforcement: an environmental response that increases the likelihood that a behavior will be repeated.
▪ Positive reinforcement: Strengthens a behavior by providing a
consequence an individual finds rewarding
▪ Negative reinforcement: Removal of an adverse stimulus.
o Punishment: an environmental response that decreases the likelihood that a behavior will be repeated.
▪ Time Out
• Observational learning (social learning)
o Bobo experiment (Bandura)
▪ The children who saw an aggressive model were more likely to display aggression towards the Bobo doll when they were put in a room with it.
Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development – Believed that children are naturally curious. Children assimilate new experiences, and create new theories. Then they accommodate, modify those theories when they experience new things. At each stage (listed below), children undergo revolutionary changes to theories.
• Sensorimotor Stage: Birth to 2 years
o Reflex ???? deliberate actions ???? experimenting
o Cognitive Advances
▪ Objective permanence: Understanding that objects exist independently. (In the 8 months, if an infant can’t see something, it doesn’t exist to
▪ Use of symbols: Talking and using gestures, such as waving “goodbye”. ▪ Mental problem solving: Thinking of consequences before they happen. • Preoperational Stage: 2 to 7 years
o Cognitive Advances
▪ Use of symbols: Use of words, graphs, maps, and models.
o Cognitive Limitations
▪ Egocentrism: Difficulty in seeing the world from another’s view point. ▪ Animism: Credit inanimate objects with life and lifelike properties (ex. Thinking that the sun is sad because it’s cloudy and he can’t shine)
▪ Conservation: properties of objects stay the same even though they change their physical appearance.
▪ Liquids: A preoperational child is shown two glasses with the same amount of liquid. They see as one glass of liquid is poured into a taller, thinner glass. They are asked which has the greater amount, and the child points at the taller glass.
▪ Number: The same number of coins are rearranged; they will think the number has changed.
▪ Mass: A clay ball is molded into another shape; they will think the mass has changed.
▪ Length: Two sticks of the same length are places side by side; one is moved and the child will think that they aren’t the same length.
• Concrete Operational Stage: 7 to 11 years
o Cognitive Advances
▪ Logical thought
▪ Reduced egocentrism
• Decentered thinking
• Dynamic transformation
• Reversibility: Allows them to understand conservation.
o Cognitive Limitations
▪ Abstract thought: They think in what is tangible and real, they can’t yet grasp abstract and hypothetical concepts.
• Formal Operational Stage: 11 years through adulthood
o Cognitive advances (allows adolescents and adults to experiment with lifestyles and values)
▪ Abstract thought
▪ Hypothetical thought
▪ Deductive reasoning: ability to draw appropriate conclusions from facts. o Cognitive Limitations
▪ Adolescent egocentrism
• Imaginary audience
• Personal fable
• Illusion of invincibility
o Universality of Formal Operational thought ???? allows us to take sophisticated approaches to problem solving, think abstractly, make hypothesis.
• Evaluation of Piaget’s Theory
o Underestimates cognitive competence of infants, overestimates cognitive competence of adolescents.
o Cognitive development is not as stage-like as Piaget outlines it to be. o Undervalues the influences of the sociocultural environment.
Vygotsky’s Sociocultural View of Cognitive Development – Highlights the importance of interaction and culture (children don’t learn by themselves).
• Zone of Proximal Development: The distance between what a child can do alone what they can do with assistance.
o Ex. A 3-year-old child, with the help of an adult, can complete a 25-piece puzzle and gain something from the experience. But they won’t gain anything from trying to complete a 1,000-piece puzzle because that is too complex (falls into the anxiety zone).
• Scaffolding: Teaching children by providing instruction and support that is tailored to the individual child’s needs.
o Ex. While helping a child complete a puzzle, an adult may give them tips – group the similar color pieces, start from the outside and work your way in, look at the box picture for guidance on where the pieces are supposed to go, etc.
• Source of behavior regulation and instruction
o Speech from others
▪ Children are told what to do
o Private speech
▪ They talk to themselves out loud while working through a task
o Inner speech
▪ Mental talk, not out loud
▪ As adults, we use inner speech mainly. But when faced with a difficult task, we can sometimes revert to private speech.
Information-Processing Model of Memory
• Sensory Memory: information captured by your senses
o Takes in a lot of information (everything you see, hear, taste, touch and smell), a majority of it is let go.
• Working Memory: the information and cognitive processes currently active in your memory system.
o Information stays in your working memory for about 30 seconds.
• Long-Term Memory: all the information stored in your memory system. o Believed to be infinite (even though it may not feel like it).
• Central Executive (executive functioning): Manages the memory system (it’s in charge). o Inhibits inappropriate thoughts and actions
o Shifting from one action, thought, or task to another
o Updating content in the working memory
Why can’t we remember?
• Encoding: Process of information getting put into the working memory. • Storage: Made it into the working memory, but not long term memory • Accessing: The memory is in long term memory, but your brain couldn’t find it to move it to working memory.
• Retrieval: There’s a long term memory, and you’ve found it, but it cannot be moved to the working memory.
o “Tip of the Tongue Phenomenon”
• Recognition: The process of selecting the familiar from the unfamiliar. o Fetus have recognition memory (something they experience before being born) ▪ Tastes and sounds
• Recall: recalling a stimulus from memory
o More complex memory retrieval (starts at about 8 months of age)
o Cued recall – recall with a hint.
▪ Ex. Baby is taken to lab and are laid in a crib. They’re foot is tied to a mobile, and every time they kick, the mobile moves. The baby figures it
out, and kicks to make the mobile move. They are brought back a few
days later, this time their foot isn’t tied to the mobile, to see if they
Developmental Change in Information Processing
Older children use faster, more accurate, and easier strategies.
Rehearsal, organization, elaboration (ex. mnemonics).
Older children are more skilled at inhibiting, shifting, and updating.
Asked to format an
assignment in a new way older children are more successful at adapting to the new format.
Increased automatic processing
Older children execute more processes automatically.
As things become automatic (like reading), they take up less space in working
memory. (C-A-T vs. CAT)
Increased speed of
Older children can execute mental processes faster than younger children.
Shown a picture of a dog, older children can retrieve the name “dog” from
memory more rapidly.
• Working memory capacity
o Gets better with age – children can hold 2-3 chunks of information in their working memory while adults can hold 7 chunks of information.
• Knowledge base
o Experts vs. novices
▪ Experts: The more knowledge you have on a topic, the easier it is to
assimilate new information related to your topic of expertise.
▪ Sometimes children are experts in a certain area (chess, for example). They will outperform someone older on a memory task related to their
area of expertise (placing chess pieces on a board). But in everything else, the adult will perform better.
• Metacognitive knowledge: Awareness of cognitive process
o Determine goal ???? Select best strategy ???? Use strategy ???? Monitor strategy ▪ If strategy is effective, the child will use the strategy again
▪ If it is ineffective, they start the process all over again
• Infantile amnesia
o When you can’t recall childhood memories (you probably can’t remember your first few years of life). Factors that contribute to infantile amnesia:
▪ Time: So much time has passed that we have forgotten events that
happened so early on in life.
▪ Organization: We organize thoughts and memories as adults. Children probably have a different organizational method.
▪ Mismatch in how memories were encoded and retrieved. As adults, we encode with language. Infants do not know language/ do not use
autobiographical memory until about preschool.
• Success in school begins before children enter the classroom.
• School readiness is more than academics
o Physical well-being: Nutrition, sleep
o Motor Development: Can walk, run, hold pencil
o Cognition and General Knowledge: Can count
o Language Development: Can talk, grasp of language
o Social and Emotional Development: Can handle separation from parents, get along with other kids, pay attention to teacher
o Approaches to Learning: Curiosity, wants to learn
• Socio-economic factors are strongly related to school readiness
o Children with a low socio-economic status are less likely to be ready for school than children with a high SES.
o To bridge the gap:
▪ Public preschool: Give children preparation for kindergarten
▪ Head Start: Program that gives children the tools they need to succeed (both academic and beyond). Helps parents as well. Generally positive
▪ Abecedarian project
• Experiment ???? Experimental group got preschool education,
control just got general information
• Longitudinal ???? Participants have been followed into adulthood.
The ones that went to preschool were generally more successful.
• Key skills
o Phonological awareness: Ability to distinguish the sounds in spoken words o Word decoding: Sounding out words
o Fluency: Expression, appropriate pausing
▪ Younger children may pause in weird places (like the end of a line), and not use any expression while reading.
o Comprehension: Extracting meaning from a sequence of words.
▪ This skill doesn’t automatically come in until later – first children are just trying to figure out how to read.
• Reading Instructions
o Phonics: Breaking down words by sounds
o Whole-word/whole-language: Memorizing words so they are recalled automatically (“the”, “are”, etc.)
• Form: Start off as big capital letters, later includes lowercase, cursive (if taught) • Content: Children write about information/topics they retrieve from memory, adolescents decide what information to include and how to organize it.
o Inventive spelling: Spelling out words phonetically (considered a good thing) Mathematics
• Strategies (External process ???? internal process)
o Using fingers or other objects
o Speaking out loud to solve the problem
o Mentally thinking thought the problem
o Fact retrieval
Factors Affecting Academic Success
• Child factors: Attitude towards learning, mood, intelligence, behavior regulation (basically everything discussed in school readiness)
• Microsystem: Other kids, teachers
• Mesosystem: How well parents and teachers interact, teacher’s ability to manage class • Exosystem: School boards, teachers’ unions, etc.
• Macrosystem: Curriculum, culture – is education valued?, how children are taught, language
• Chronosystem: Things change with time ???? cursive vs. keyboarding, standardized testing, male to female ratios
• Ability grouping: the practice of using students’ ability level to determine which class children will be placed in
▪ Teachers know at what level to teach
▪ Students learn at their level of knowledge
▪ Stigma for students in lower ability groups
▪ Motivation – students in lower ability groups may settle for their classes ▪ Higher level students get better teachers
▪ Once you get tracked in a group it’s hard to break out (negative for both high and low ability group students)
• High-Stakes Achievement Testing: standardized testing that has major consequences for children, teachers, and schools.
▪ Increased accountability for schools
▪ Makes schools put resources into strengthening the basics
▪ Know where there are deficiencies
▪ Some students are bad testers, so their grades don’t match their test scores
▪ Time wasted preparing for exam
▪ Has changed curriculum to prepare for exams specifically
▪ History/art/music get pushed aside