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14: Adolescence - Cognitive Development

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    learning objectives

    After this chapter, you should be able to:

    • Describe Piaget’s formal operational stage and the characteristics of formal operational thought
    • Compare Theories - Lawrence’s Kohlberg’s Moral Development and Carol Gilligan’s Morality of Care
    • Explain the Information Processing Theory
    • Describe the strategies for memory storage
    • Explain the areas of transition for adolescence

    During adolescence more complex thinking abilities emerge. Researchers suggest this is due to increases in processing speed and efficiency rather than as the result of an increase in mental capacity—in other words, due to improvements in existing skills rather than development of new ones (Bjorkland, 1987; Case, 1985). Let’s explore these improvements.

    • 14.1: Cognitive Development in Adolescence
      During adolescence, teenagers move beyond concrete thinking and become capable of abstract thought. Teen thinking is also characterized by the ability to consider multiple points of view, imagine hypothetical situations, debate ideas and opinions (e.g., politics, religion, and justice), and form new ideas. In addition, it’s not uncommon for adolescents to question authority or challenge established societal norms.
    • 14.2: Cognitive Changes in the Brain
      Early in adolescence, changes in Dopamine, a chemical in the brain that is a neurotransmitter and produces feelings of pleasure, can contribute to increases in adolescents’ sensation-seeking and reward motivation. During adolescence, people tend to do whatever activities produce the most dopamine without fully considering the consequences of such actions.
    • 14.3: Cognitive Theorists- Piaget, Elkind, Kohlberg, and Gilligan
      Cognition refers to thinking and memory processes, and cognitive development refers to long-term changes in these processes.
    • 14.4: Information Processing Theory- Memory, Encoding, and Storage
      Memory is an information processing system that we often compare to a computer. Memory is the set of processes used to encode, store, and retrieve information over different periods of time. Encoding involves the input of information into the memory system. Storage is the retention of the encoded information. Retrieval, or getting the information out of memory and back into awareness, is the third function.
    • 14.5: Adolescence (A Time of Transitions)
      Cognitive growth and a new found sense of freedom and independence makes it both easier and more difficult for teens when making choices and coping with upcoming transitions and life decisions.
    • 14.6: Wisdom and Risk-Taking
      Whether it is a sense heightened of ability (we’ve learned a lot about the egocentrism, personal fable, imaginary audience, or the lack of development of prefrontal cortex), or just poor decision making, many teens tend to take unnecessary risks. Wisdom, or the capacity for insight and judgment that is developed through experience, increases between the ages of 14 and 25, and increases with maturity, life experiences, and cognitive development.
    • 14.S: Summary


    14: Adolescence - Cognitive Development is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Paris, Ricardo, Raymond, & Johnson.

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