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5: Cognitive Development in Infancy and Toddlerhood

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    Learning Objectives

    After this chapter, you should be able to:

    1. Describe the substages of the Piaget’s sensorimotor stage.
    2. Explain how the social environment affects cognitive development according to Vygotsky’s theory.
    3. Discuss the progression of language development during the first two years.
    4. Compare the theories of language development.
    5. Define classical and operant conditioning.
    6. Summarize the different types of memory

    In an effort to better understand the large spectrum of cognition that infants and toddlers go through, it is important to analyze and comprehend various theories that relate to their growth and development. This chapter will take a look at the following theorists: Piaget, Vygotsky, Chomsky, Skinner, Pavlov, Watson, Bandura, and Bronfenbrenner.

    • 5.1: Piaget
      Jean Piaget is the most noted theorist when it comes to children's cognitive development. He believed that children's cognition develops in stages. He explained this growth in the following stages: Sensory Motor Stage (Birth through 2 years old), Preoperational Stage (2-7 years old), Concrete Operational Stage (7-11 years old), and Formal Operational Stage (12 years old- adulthood).
    • 5.2: Vygotsky
      Lev Vygotsky (1896–1934) had come to similar conclusions as Piaget about children’s development, in thinking that children learned about the world through physical interaction with it. However, where Piaget felt that children moved naturally through different stages of development, based on biological predispositions and their own individual interactions with the world, Vygotsky claimed that adult or peer intervention was a much more important part of the developmental process.
    • 5.3: Cognitive Milestones
      Children are actively learning about the world as they perceive it from the time they are in the womb. Here is a table of some of the cognitive milestones infants and toddlers typically develop.
    • 5.4: Language Development
      Do newborns communicate? Absolutely! However, they do not communicate with the use of language. Instead, they communicate their thoughts and needs with body posture (being relaxed or still), gestures, cries, and facial expressions. A person who spends adequate time with an infant can learn which cries indicate pain and which ones indicate hunger, discomfort, or frustration as well as translate their vocalizations, movements, gestures and facial expressions.
    • 5.5: Theories of Cognitive Development, Learning, and Memory
      Three cognitive Development theories: Classical conditioning is a form of learning whereby a conditioned stimulus becomes associated with an unrelated unconditioned stimulus, in order to produce a behavioral response known as a conditioned response. In operant conditioning theory, new or continued behaviors are impacted by new or continued consequences. Social learning theory argues that many of our actions are not learned through conditioning; rather, they are learned by watching others.
    • 5.6: Memory and Attention
      Long-term memory is the final, semi-permanent stage of memory. Unlike sensory and short-term memory, long-term memory has a theoretically infinite capacity, and information can remain there indefinitely. Long-term memory has also been called reference memory, because an individual must refer to the information in long-term memory when performing almost any task. Long-term memory can be broken down into two categories: explicit and implicit memory.
    • 5.S: Summary


    This page titled 5: Cognitive Development in Infancy and Toddlerhood is shared under a CC BY 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Paris, Ricardo, Raymond, & Johnson (College of the Canyons) .

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