CHAPTER 5CHAPTER 5
Infancy: Cognitive DevelopmentInfancy: Cognitive Development
Cognitive Development: Jean PiagetCognitive Development: Jean Piaget
Cognitive Development – Jean Piaget
• Piaget hypothesized that cognitive processes develop in an orderly sequence of stages (4).
• Stage 1: Sensorimotor• Stage 2: Preoperational• Stage 3: Concrete operational• Stage 4: Formal operational
-Children’s concepts of the world
• Cognitive development
-Way of perceiving and mentally representing the world
-Absorbing new events into existing schemes
-Modifying existing schemes when assimilation does not allow the child to make sense of novel events
Sensorimotor Stage• Refers to 0-2 years of cognitive development
• First substage (1st month after birth)-Dominated by assimilation of sources of stimulation into inborn reflexes such as grasping, visual tracking.
• Second substage (1 to 4 months)P
rimary circular reactions
-characterized by beginnings of the ability to coordinate various sensorimotor schemes-focus on the infant’s own body rather than on external
Sensorimotor Stage (cont’d)• Third substage (4 to 8 months)
Secondary circular reactions
-include repeated patterns of activity due to effect on the environment-focus shifts objects and environmental events
• Fourth substage (8 to 12 months)-Infants begin to show intentional, goal-directed behavior in which they differentiate between the means of achieving a goal and the goal or end itself
• Fifth substage (12 to 18 months)T
ertiary circular reactions
-purposeful adaptations of established schemes to specific situations
Sensorimotor Stage (cont’d)
• Sixth substage (18 to 24 months)
-Transition between sensorimotor development and the development of symbolic thought
-External exploration replaced by mental exploration
-Use imitation to symbolize or stand for a plan of action
• Object permanence
-Recognition that an object or person continues to exist when
out of sight
-Advances in the development of the object concept by about
the sixth month
Evaluation of Piaget
• Remains a comprehensive model of infant cognition
• Many of his own observations of his own infants have been confirmed by others.
• Pattern and sequence of events he described have been observed among American, European, African, and Asian infants
– Cognitive development not as tied to discrete stages
– Emphasis on maturation with exclusion of adult and peer influences on cognitive development
– Underestimation of infants’ competence• Infants display object permanence earlier than Piaget
believed.• Infants display deferred imitation as early as 9 months and
not 18 months as Piaget believed.
Information ProcessingInformation Processing
Memory• Memory improves between 2 and 6 months of age.• Older infants more capable of encoding than younger
ones• Infant memory can be improved if infants receive a
-Imitation of actions after a time delay occurs as early as 6 months
-Imitation of neonates likely reflexive
• Activated when the individual performs a motor act or observes another individual engaging in the same act
• Also connected with emotions in humans– The frontal lobe is active when people experience
emotions such as disgust, happiness, pain, and also when they observe another person experiencing an emotion
• Has been suggested that mirror neurons are connected with the built-in human capacity to acquire language
Individual Differences in Individual Differences in Intelligence Among InfantsIntelligence Among Infants
Individual Differences in Intelligence Among Infants
• Understanding of infants’ intelligence based on scales of infant development
• Bayley Scales of Infant Development-Consists of 178 mental-scale items and 111 motor-scale
-Mental scale assesses verbal communication, perceptual skills, learning and memory, and problem-solving skills
-Motor scale assesses gross and fine motor skills -Behavior rating scale based on examiner observation of the child during the test also used
• Testing used to identify handicaps
Instability of Intelligence Scores Attained in Infancy
• Scores obtained during first year of life correlated moderately with scores obtained a year later.
• Bayley scales and socioeconomic status were able to predict cognitive development among LBW children from 18 months to 4 years.
• Bayley and other scales do not predict school grades or IQ scores very well.
• Bayley scales are best at identifying gross lags in development and relative strengths and weaknesses.
Use of Visual Recognition Memory
• Visual recognition memory- Ability to discriminate previously seen objects from novel objects;
procedure based on habituation
• Children with greater visual recognition memory attained higher IQ scores.
• Individual differences in capacity for visual recognition memory are stable.
• Capacity for visual recognition memory increases over first year after birth.
• Studies on visual recognition memory and later IQ scores show good predictive validity for broad cognitive abilities throughout childhood.
Language DevelopmentLanguage Development
Early Vocalizations• Children develop language according to an invariant sequence of steps or stages.• Language begins with prelinguistic vocalizations.
-Infants use tongues, vowel-like sounds-Appears to be linked to pleasure
-Babbling (6-9 months)
-Combination of consonants and vowels
• Echolalia (10-12 months)-Infants repeat syllables
• Intonation (end of 1st year)-Use of patterns that rise and fall; resembles adult speech
Table 5-2, p. 101
Development of Vocabulary
• First word -
Spoken between 11-13 months
-Brief and consist of one or two
• Vocabulary acquisition-
Slow at first
-3 or 4 months from when the first word is spoken, children learn 10-30 words
-18-month-old vocabulary may be 50 words
-22-month-old vocabulary may be 300 words
• General nominals
-Similar to nouns
-Includes names of classes of objects
• Specific nominals
• Overextension– Children extend the meaning of one word to refer to
things and actions for which they do not have words.– Overextensions gradually pulled back to proper
Development of Sentences
• Telegraphic speech-Brief expressions that have meanings of sentences
• Mean length of utterance (MLU)-Average number of morphemes that communicators use in their sentences
• Morphemes-Smallest units of meaning in a language
-e.g. Walked is two morphemes: walk = verb, -ed = past-tense suffix
• MLU increases rapidly once speech begins
Development of Sentences (cont’d)
-Single words that are used to express complex meanings
-e.g., “Mama” means… “There goes Mama”
• Telegraphic speech-Two-word sentences
-e.g., “That ball”; words is and a are implied
-Shows understanding of syntax
-Rules in a language for placing words in order to form sentences
Theories of Language Development• Nurture view
-Holds that a child learns the language that the family speaks1
-Children learn language, at least in part, by observation and imitation.2
-Children learn language due to the social cues of smiling, stroking, and talking back to them.
-Foreign sounds drop out due to the lack of reinforcement.
-Reinforcing children’s utterances as they approximate actual words (may be selective)
Theories of Language Development (cont’d)
-Holds that children have inborn tendency in the form of neurological “pre-wiring” to language learning
• Psycholinguistic theory
-Language acquisition involves interaction between
-Innate tendency labeled language acquisition device (LAD)
-Inborn tendency supported by studies of deaf children and in
the language development among all languages
Theories of Language Development (cont’d)
• Surface and deep structure
-On the surface, languages differ in vocabulary and grammar.
-However, languages share “universal grammar” allowing for
transforming ideas into sentences.
• Chomsky maintains children are genetically pre-wired to attend to language and deduce the rules for constructing sentences from ideas.
Brain Structures Involved in Language
• Biological structures of LAD based in left hemisphere of the cerebral cortex for nearly all right-handed people and for 2 out of 3 left-handed
• Damage to Broca’s or Wernicke’s area called aphasia
-Disruption in the ability to understand or produce language
-Located left hemisphere
• Broca’s aphasia
-Can understand but not reproduce speech well
• Wernicke’s aphasia
-Can speak freely with proper syntax
-Have trouble understanding speech and finding the words to express themselves
The Sensitive Period
• Language learning most efficient beginning at 18 to 24 months (sensitive period)
• During this period, neural development provides plasticity of the brain.
• Damage to the brain easier to heal the younger the child
• Social contacts important in the development of language
• Malnutrition and abuse can contribute to poor language learning and ability.