Chapter 5 Cognitive Development in Infancy
Piaget’s Approach to Cognitive Development
Carefully observed children-especially his own young son-and used this information to form the theory that human cognition develops not so much through traditional learning processes as through changes in the way children approach problems (believed that infants learn by doing).
Believed that knowledge is the product of direct motor behavior in infants
Both quantity and quality of knowledge increase
Believed that cognitive development occurs in an orderly and gradual fashion
His theory is thus based on a stage approach to development.
However, infants do not suddenly shift between stages of cognitive development. Instead, there is a transition period in which some behaviors reflect one stage, some the next stage.
All children pass through a series of universal stages in a fixed order.
During These Stages…
Both quantity and quality of knowledge increase.
Focus is on the change in understanding that occurs as a child moves through the stages.
Movement through stages occurs with physical maturation and experience with the environment.
Piaget Believed That Infants Have Mental Structures Called SCHEMES
Schemes: Organized Patterns of Functioning
Newborn schemes differ from adult schemes.
Primarily limited to reflexes (sucking & rooting)
Schemes become more sophisticated as motor capabilities advance.
Piaget considered this a signal of potential for more advanced cognitive development.
Two Principles Underlie Children's Schemes
ASSIMILATION is when people understand an experience in terms of their current stage of cognitive development and way of thinking.
Sucking on every toy the same way, calling all animals dogs
2) ACCOMMODATION is a change in existing ways of thinking that occurs in response to encounters with new stimuli or events.
Sucking on things based on shape, calling flying animals birds
By substage 6 of the Sensorimotor Period (approx. 18-24 months), children have achieved the capacity for mental representation or symbolic thought.
Mental representation: an internal image of a past event or object
They can also imagine where unseen objects are and plot trajectories.
This allows for:
More sophisticated understanding of causality
Ability to pretend
The Roots of Language
LANGUAGE is the systematic, meaningful arrangement of symbols, and provides the basis for communication.
Language has several formal characteristics that must be mastered as linguistic competence is developed.
Formal Characteristics of Language Mastery
Phonology refers to the basic sounds of language, called phonemes, that can be combined to produce words and sentences.
Morphemes are the smallest language unit that has meaning.
Semantics are the rules that govern the meaning of words and sentences.
Infants Show PRELINGUISTIC COMMUNICATION Through Sounds, Facial Expressions, Gestures, Imitations, and Other Non-linguistic Means.
BABBLING is when infants make speech-like but meaningless sounds at about 2-3 months continuing to about 1 year.
Babbling is a universal phenomenon.
Babbling begins with easy sounds (b, p) & proceeds to more complex sounds (d, t).
By age 6 months, babbling differs according to the language to which the infant is exposed.
First Words Are Generally Spoken Between 10-14 Months.
First words are typically holophrases, one-word utterances that depend on the particular context in which they are used to determine meaning.
Language Development in Infant, cont.
By 15 months the average child has a vocabulary of 15 words.
Between 16 and 24 months a child's vocabulary increases to 100 words.
Around 8-12 months after their first word, children move to 2-word phrases that are really primitive sentences – that is, they convey a single thought.
By 18-24 months, infants are linking words in sentences using TELEGRAPHIC SPEECH where words not critical to the message are left out.
The Origins of Language Development
LEARNING THEORY APPROACH
Language is a learned skill that follows the basic laws of reinforcement and conditioning.
Through the process of shaping, language becomes more and more similar to adult speech.
This theory does not explain how children learn grammar.
It does not explain how children produce novel phrases, sentences, and constructions, such as nonsense words using correct grammar.
The Origins of Language Development, cont.
Nativist Approaches: Language as an Innate Skill
Chomsky argues that there is a genetically determined, innate mechanism that directs the development of language.
This is known as the nativist approach.
Chomsky argues that all languages share a similar underlying structure called universal grammar.
The brain is wired with a language-acquisition device (LAD), a neural system of the brain hypothesized to permit the understanding of language.
Speaking to Children: The Language of Infant-Directed Speech
INFANT-DIRECTED SPEECH, a type of speech directed towards infants, characterized by short, simple sentences.
This type was previously called motherese.
Pitch of voice becomes higher.
Intonation may be singsong.
Typically only used during first year.
Infants seem more receptive to this type of speech.
Use of this type of speech is related to the early appearance of words.
Research shows that parents use different language for boys than for girls.
They use diminutives more with girls (kitty/dolly vs. cat/doll).
They use warmer phrases and more emotional referents with girls.
They tend to use firmer, clearer language with boys.