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13: Cognitive Development

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    • 13.1: Exploring Cognition
      Jean Piaget is one of the most influential cognitive theorists in development inspired to explore children’s ability to think and reason by watching his own children’s development. He was one of the first to recognize and map out the ways in which children’s intelligence differs from that of adults. Lev Vygotsky was a Russian psychologist who believed that a person not only has a set of abilities, but also a set of potential abilities that can be realized if given the proper guidance from others
    • 13.2: Cognitive Development (Infant)
      Piaget describes intelligence in infancy as sensorimotor or based on direct, physical contact. Infants taste, feel, pound, push, hear, and move in order to experience the world.
    • 13.3: Cognitive Development (Early Childhood)
      Piaget’s stage that coincides with early childhood is the preoperational stage. The word operational means logical, so children were thought to be illogical. However, they are learning to use language or to think of the world symbolically. The theory of mind is the understanding that the mind can be tricked or that the mind is not always accurate. Before about 4 years of age, a child does not recognize that the mind can hold ideas that are not accurate.
    • 13.4: Cognitive Development (Middle Childhood)
      From ages 7 to 11, the school-aged child is in what Piaget referred to as the concrete operational stage of cognitive development. The child can use logic to solve problems tied to their own direct experience but has trouble solving hypothetical problems or considering more abstract problems. The child uses inductive reasoning which means thinking that the world reflects one’s own personal experience.
    • 13.5: Cognitive Development (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.
    • 13.6: Cognitive Development (Early Adulthood)
      Postformal thought is practical, realistic and more individualistic. As a person approaches the late 30s, chances are they make decisions out of necessity or because of prior experience and are less influenced by what others think. In addition to moving toward more practical considerations, thinking in early adulthood may also become more flexible and balanced. Adolescents tend to think in dichotomies but the adult comes to recognize that there is some good or some bad in a policy or approach.
    • 13.7: Cognitive Development (Middle Adulthood)
      Abstract reasoning in a particular field requires a knowledge base that we might not have in all areas. So our ability to think abstractly depends to a large extent on our experiences. Some adults lead patterned, orderly, lives in which they are not challenged to think abstractly about their world. When we work extensively in an area, we may gain expertise. An expert tends to perform actions in a more automatic fashion.
    • 13.8: Cognitive Development (Late Adulthood)
      Aging may create small decrements in the sensitivity of the sensory register. And, to the extent that a person has a more difficult time hearing or seeing, that information will not be stored in memory. As we age, the working memory loses some of its capacity. This makes it more difficult to concentrate on more than one thing at a time or to keep remember details of an event.

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