Part II Chapter Six The First Two Years: Cognitive Development Sensorimotor Intelligence Information Processing Language: What Develops in the First Two Years? Prepared by Madeleine Lacefield Tattoon, M.A.
The First Two Years: Cognitive Development • Infant cognition • cognition = “thinking” • “thinking” in a very broad sense includes… • language • learning • memory • intelligence
The First Two Years: Cognitive Development • Infants organize by the end of the first year… • sensations and perceptions • sequence and direction • the familiar and the strange • objects and people • events and experiences • permanence and transiency • cause and effect
Sensorimotor Intelligence • Remember… • Piaget’s first stage (chapter 2) • infants learn through senses and motor actions
Piaget and Research Methods • Piaget’s sensorimotor intelligence actually occurs earlier for most infants than Piaget predicted. • Habituation, the process of getting used to (i.e., bored with) a stimulus after repeated exposure. An infant can show this by looking away. • If a new object appears and the infant reacts (change in heart rate, sucking), it is assumed they recognize the object as something different. • Summing up… • In six stages of sensorimotor, Piaget discovered, described, and then celebrated active infant learning.
Information Processing Theory • “a perspective that compares human thinking processes, by analogy, to computer analysis of data, including sensory input, connections, stored memories, and output”
Information Processing Theory • With the aid of technology this theory has found some impressive intellectual capacities in the infant • Intellectual capacities, concepts, and categories seem to develop in the infant brain by 6 months • Perspective helps tie together various aspects of infant cognition: affordance and memory.
Information Processing Theory • affordance • “…an opportunity for perception and interaction that is offered by a person, place, or object in the environment” • afford = offer • perceptionis the mental processing of information that arrives at the brain from the sensory organs
Information Processing Theory • affordance • One puzzle of development is that two people can have discrepant perceptions of the same situation, not only interpreting it differently but actually observing it differently • depending on: • past experiences • current developmental level • sensory awareness of opportunities • immediate needs and motivation
Information Processing Theory • Research on Early Affordance • Information processing improves over the first year as infants become quicker to remember • Experiences affect which affordances are perceived…
Information Processing Theory • Sudden Drops • …the visual cliff, an apparatus to measure depth perception • infants become interested in “crossing” the cliff about 8 months (having had experience falling) • the cliff “affords” danger for older infants
Information Processing Theory • Movement and People • infants have: • dynamic perception • primed to focus on movement and change • a people preference • a universal principle of infant perception, consisting of an innate attraction to other humans, which is evident in visual, auditory, tactile, and other preferences
Information Processing Theory • Memory • Developmentalists now agree that even very young infants can remember under the following circumstances: • experimental conditions are similar to “real life” • motivation is high • special measures are taken to aid memory retrieval
Information Processing Theory • Reminders and Repetition • reminder sessions • a perceptual experience that is intended to help a person recollect an idea, a thing, or an experience, without testing whether the person remembers it at the moment
Information Processing Theory • A Little Older, a Little More Memory • after about 6 months infants can retain information for longer periods of time… with less training or reminding • by the middle of the 2nd year toddlers can remember and reenact more complex sequences
Information Processing Theory • Aspects of Memory • Memory is not one “thing” • brain-imaging techniques reveal many distinct brain regions devoted to particular aspects of memory • implicit memory is memory for routines and memories that remain hidden until particular stimulus bring them to mind • explicit memory is memory that can be recalled on demand
Language: What Develops in the First Two Years? • “The acquisition of language,… its idiomatic phases, grammar rules, and exceptions, is the most impressive intellectual achievement of the young child.”
Language: What Develops in the First Two Years? • The Universal Sequence • Around the world children follow the same sequence of early language development
Language: What Develops in the First Two Years? • Listening and Responding • infants begin learning language before birth… • infants prefer speech over other sounds • child-directed speech • the high-pitched, simplified, and repetitive way adults speak to infants
Language: What Develops in the First Two Years? • Babbling • repeating certain syllables (e.g., da-da-da). • all babies babble, even deaf babies (although later and less frequently). • babbling is a way to communicate.
Language: What Develops in the First Two Years? • First Words • usually around 1 year the average baby speaks, or signs a few words • they are often familiar nouns • by 13 months spoken language increases very gradually • 6 to 15 month-olds learn meaning rapidly and comprehend about 10 times as many words as they speak
Language: What Develops in the First Two Years? • The Naming Explosion • a sudden increase in an infant’s vocabulary, especially in the number of nouns begins at about 18 months • vocabulary reaches about 50 expressed words at a rate of 50 to 100 per month, 21 month-olds saying twice as many as 18 month-olds
Language: What Develops in the First Two Years? • Cultural Differences • the ratio of nouns to verbs and adjectives show cultural influences. • one explanation is the language itself (i.e. English, Chinese differ) • another explanation is social context (toys and objects) • every language has some concepts encoded in adult speech
Language: What Develops in the First Two Years? • Sentences • “The first words soon take on nuances of tone, loudness, and cadence that are precursors of the first grammar, because a single word can convey many messages by the way it is spoken.”
Language: What Develops in the First Two Years? • Sentences “Dada!” “Dada?” and “Dada.” • each is a holophrase, a single word that expresses a complete, meaningful thought. • intonations varying in tone and pitch is extensive in babbling and again in holophrases at about 18 months • grammar--all the methods that languages use to communicate meaning. Word order, prefixes, intonation, verb forms,… are all aspects of grammar.
Language: What Develops in the First Two Years? • Theories of Language Learning • 2 year olds worldwide use language well • bilingual children keep two languages separate and speak whatever language a listen understands • each theory of language acquisition has implications for parents and educators…all want children to speak fluently…without instruction
Language: What Develops in the First Two Years? • Theories of Language Learning • There are 3 theories of how infants learn language: • they are taught (view of B. F. Skinner) • they teach themselves (view of Noam Chomsky) • social impulses foster learning
Language: What Develops in the First Two Years? • Theory One: Infants Need to Be Taught • 50 years ago the dominant learning theory in North America was behaviorism • B. F. Skinner (1957) noticed that spontaneous babbling is usually reinforced… a grinning mother appears, repeating, praising, giving attention to the infant • Parents are expert teachers, other caregivers help • Frequent repetitions instructive when linked to daily life • Well-taught infants become well-spoken children
Language: What Develops in the First Two Years? • Theory Two: Infants Teach Themselves • a contrary theory is that language learning is innate--adults need not teach it • Norm Chomsky (1968,1980) felt that language is too complex to be mastered merely through step-by-step conditioning
Language: What Develops in the First Two Years? • Theory Two: Infants Teach Themselves • universal grammar--all young children master basic language at about the same age • Language acquisition device (LAD) • a term used for a hypothesized mental structure that enables humans to learn language, including the basic aspects of grammar, vocabulary and intonation
Language: What Develops in the First Two Years? • Theory Three: Social Impulses Foster Infant Language • a third theory called social-pragmatic perceives the crucial starting point to be neither vocabulary reinforcement (behaviorism) nor innate connection (epigenetic), but rather the social reason for language; communication • Infants communicate in every way they can because humans are social beings and depend on one another for survival and joy
Language: What Develops in the First Two Years? • A Hybrid Theory • the integration of all three perspectives… notably in a monograph based on 12 experiments designed by 8 researchers • their model an emergentist coalition… combing valid aspects of several theories about the emergence of language during infancy