Cognitive Development Key Terms

Psychology - Schacter et al European edition 2012

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newly born infants
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birth to 2 years old
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starts at 18-24 months and lasts until adolescence
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developmental psychology
the study of continuity and change across a lifespan
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nature vs nurture
the naive distinction about whether development is genetically determined or dependent on the environment
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human genome project
scientific project to identify all human genes
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the process that regards development of the interaction between genes and environment
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the idea of development and constrained epigenesis
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prenatal stage
begins at conception and ends at birth
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a single cell that contains chromosomes from both a sperm and an egg
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germinal stage
the two week period that begins at conception
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embryonic stage
seconds week to the eight week of the prenatal stage
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cluster ball of embryonic cells
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embryonic disk
three layered flattened structure that emerges from the blastocyst
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embryonic disk layer that goes on to form the internal organs
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embryonic disk layer that goes on to form the skeletal muscles
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embryonic disk layer that goes on to form the skin and nervous system
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fetal stage
ninth week until birth
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neural tube
the cylindrical structure of the embryonic central nervous system
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the formation of neural cells
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agents that damage the process of development
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fetal alcohol syndrome
a developmental disorder that stems from heavy alcohol use by the mother during pregnancy
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the rhythm of speech
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generative process
those that lead to the formation of new structures
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process where the cell axon lengthens and grows increasing dendritic branches
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the increase in the number of synaptic junctions where cells communicate through the activity of neurotransmitters
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the formation of a fatty sheath around the axons of a brain cell
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synaptic pruning
the process whereby synaptic connection die off
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the capacity for the brain to be moulded by experience
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experience-expectant plasticity
where neural organisation lis pre specified and is waiting for environmental input
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experience-dependent plasticity
where neural organisation is not pre specified and depends on input from the environmentl
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sensitive periods of development
relatively specific times when appropriate environmental input is expected
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quantitative change
the amount or quantity of change
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qualitative change
the type or quality of change
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an important demarcating event on the path of development
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stage theories
theories that advocate development as a fundamental reorganisation of the underlying mechanisms
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longitudinal research
experimental design bases on a representative sample of children who are then studies repeatedly over time
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cross-sectional research
experimental design based on groups of children who represent a cross-section of the population
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repeated measure
several date points are collected from the same individual
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cohort bias
anomalies that are predominant in one group that distort comparison between groups
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clinical method of studying children
manipulating the situation to see how the child's behaviour changes in a reliable manner
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visual preference paradigm
technique that uses difference in duration of looking time to infer pattern discrimination
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preference for novelty paradigm
following habituation, humans prefer to attend to novel stimulation
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violation of expectation paradigm (VOE)
where the anticipated outcome is deliberately contravened
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structured interview
a consistent set of questions about a topic under consideration
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the level of finest detail that can be resolved
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visual scanning
the ability to selectively move ones eyes around the environment
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visual contrast
areas of greatest brightness relative to darkness
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mental representations
patterns of neuronal activity that refer to aspects of the external world
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crossmodal perception
the capacity to detect correspondences of different features in the world from different sensory modalities
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motor development
the emergence of the ability to execute physical actions such as reaching, grasping, crawling and walking
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specific patterns of motor reposonse that are triggered by specific patterns of sensory stimulation
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the perception of depth by combining the images from each eye
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visual cliff
a platform with a shallow drop on one side and a steep cliff on the other
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every child in every culture goes through the same stages
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every child goes through the same sequence in the same order and roughly the same time
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biologically constrained change
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sensorimotor stage
a stage of development that begins at birth and lasts through infancy
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when infants apply their schemas in novel situations
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when infants revise their schemas in light of new information
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object permanence
the idea that objects continue to exist even when they are not visible
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limited competence
an inability to understand what needs to be done to solve the task
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limited performance
an inability to execute the necessary actions to solve the task
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preoperational stage
stage of development that begins at about 2 years and ends at about 6 years
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concrete operational stage
stage of development that begins at about 6 years and ends at about 11
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the notion that the quantitative properties of an object are invariant despite changes in the objects appearance
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appearance-reality distinction
the appreciation that looks can be deceiving
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formal operational stage
the stage of development that begins around the age of 11 and last through adulthood
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executive functions
mental operations that enable us to coordinate our thoughts and behaviours
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the ability to suppress intrusive thoughts and behaviours
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deferred imitation paradigm
where the infant imitates an event demonstrated some time earlier
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causal reasoning
when we infer that events happening close together in time and space are linked in some causal way
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intuitive theories
rudimentary frameworks that are not explicitly taught and explain related aspects of the world
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psychological essentialism
the belief that things in nature and in particular living things are what they are because of some inner property of essence
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bodily changes associated with sexual maturity
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primary sex characteristics
bodily strucures that are directly involved in reproduction
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secondary sex characteristics
bodily structures that change dramatically with sexual maturity but are not directly involved in reproduction
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the stage of development that begins around 18-21 years and ends at death
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birth to 2 years old



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starts at 18-24 months and lasts until adolescence


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Card 4


the study of continuity and change across a lifespan


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Card 5


the naive distinction about whether development is genetically determined or dependent on the environment


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