Cognitive Development: Age 0–2
Today, developmental psychologists think Piaget was incorrect. For example, children as young as 3 months old demonstrated knowledge of the properties of objects that they had only viewed and did not have prior experience with them. In one study, 3-month-old infants were shown a truck rolling down a track and behind a screen. The box, which appeared solid but was actually hollow, was placed next to the track. The truck rolled past the box as would be expected.
Then the box was placed on the track to block the path of the truck. When the truck was rolled down the track this time, it continued unimpeded. The infants spent significantly more time looking at this impossible event Figure 2. Baillargeon concluded that they knew solid objects cannot pass through each other. Figure 2. Just as there are physical milestones that we expect children to reach, there are also cognitive milestones.
It is helpful to be aware of these milestones as children gain new abilities to think, problem solve, and communicate. We can expect children to grasp the concept that objects continue to exist even when they are not in sight by around 8 months old. Because toddlers i. Toddlers also point to pictures in books and look in appropriate places when you ask them to find objects. Preschool-age children i. Not only can they count, name colors, and tell you their name and age, but they can also make some decisions on their own, such as choosing an outfit to wear.
Preschool-age children understand basic time concepts and sequencing e. They also begin to enjoy the use of humor in stories. Because they can think symbolically, they enjoy pretend play and inventing elaborate characters and scenarios. One of the most common examples of their cognitive growth is their blossoming curiosity.
An important cognitive change occurs in children this age. Between 3 and 5 years old, children come to understand that people have thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that are different from their own. This is known as theory-of-mind TOM. Children can use this skill to tease others, persuade their parents to purchase a candy bar, or understand why a sibling might be angry. When children develop TOM, they can recognize that others have false beliefs Dennett, ; Callaghan et al.
Take a look at this video clip showing a false-belief task involving a box of crayons. Cognitive skills continue to expand in middle and late childhood 6—11 years old. Thought processes become more logical and organized when dealing with concrete information Figure 3. Children at this age understand concepts such as the past, present, and future, giving them the ability to plan and work toward goals.
Additionally, they can process complex ideas such as addition and subtraction and cause-and-effect relationships. After that point, it begins to improve through adulthood. Figure 3. Because they understand luck and fairness, children in middle and late childhood 6—11 years old are able to follow rules for games. One well-researched aspect of cognitive development is language acquisition.
As mentioned earlier, the order in which children learn language structures is consistent across children and cultures Hatch, Starting before birth, babies begin to develop language and communication skills. In terms of producing spoken language, babies begin to coo almost immediately. Cooing is a one-syllable combination of a consonant and a vowel sound e.
Recent advances in cognitive-developmental theory
Interestingly, babies replicate sounds from their own languages. A baby whose parents speak French will coo in a different tone than a baby whose parents speak Spanish or Urdu. After cooing, the baby starts to babble. Babbling begins with repeating a syllable, such as ma-ma, da-da, or ba-ba. When a baby is about 12 months old, we expect her to say her first word for meaning, and to start combining words for meaning at about 18 months.
At about 2 years old, a toddler uses between 50 and words; by 3 years old they have a vocabulary of up to 1, words and can speak in sentences. It has been estimated that, 5 year olds understand about 6, words, speak 2, words, and can define words and question their meanings. They can rhyme and name the days of the week. What accounts for such dramatic language learning by children? Behaviorist B. Skinner thought that we learn language in response to reinforcement or feedback, such as through parental approval or through being understood.
Chomsky called this mechanism a language acquisition device LAD. The Springer Series in Cognitive Development contains two basic types of books, namely, edited collections of original chapters by several authors, and original volumes written by one author or a small group of authors. The flagship for the Springer Series is a serial publication of the "advances" type, carrying the subtitle Progress in Cognitive Development Research. All Progress volumes will be edited collections. Editors of such collections, upon consultation with the Series Editor, may elect to have their books published either as contributions to the Progress sequence or as separate volumes.
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Related Recent Advances in Cognitive-Developmental Theory: Progress in Cognitive Development Research
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