Sensitive periods and experience dependent learning vce u4 psych aos 1


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This file accompanies 2 podcasts made. 1: on Sensitive vs Critical periods of learning & 2: Experience expectant vs Experience dependent learning. See for links to the podcasts via itunes or (free download either way)

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Sensitive periods and experience dependent learning vce u4 psych aos 1

  1. 1. Sensitive Periods• During development there are specific times when a biological event is more ‘sensitive’ to environmental stimuli e.g. language acquisition (age 3-7) – i.e. a SENSITIVE PERIOD• We can still learn after the sensitive period has closed, but the learning process is less efficient.• Note: Sensitive periods start and end gradually
  2. 2. Critical Periods• Refers to a finite period in which an organism has heightened sensitivity to external stimuli that are compulsory for development of a particular skill• e.g. certain areas of the visual cortex are only capable of synapse formation during early stages of development, once the crucial period has elapsed the individual will have some visual impairment• E.g. Hubel & Wiesal temporarily blindfolded a kitten during a critical period (of visual development) from birth to 3 months when the blindfold was taken off, it never fully developed vision in the blindfolded eye. It actually resulted in reduced dendritic branching at the end of the neuron in comparison to the non deprived eye which had increased afferent activity as the eye developed.
  3. 3. Sensitive period vs Critical periods Sensitive periods Critical periodsStarts and ends Gradually abruptlyDuring the period It is a period of maximal The organism has sensitivity heightened sensitivity to external stimuli that are compulsory for development of a particular skillAfter the period The skill can still be The cortical areas learned, but less efficiently allocated for the particular skill will adapt and perform a different function.Examples Language development Full development of visual capabilities (from @ 8 months to 3 years)
  4. 4. Experience expectant learning• During EXPERIENCE EXPECTANT LEARNING – the brain ‘expects’ and is primed for being exposed to the environmental ‘experience’ resulting in a rewiring of the brain (i.e. the establishment of a neural pathway resulting in learning)• E.g the brain expects to be exposed to visual images, sounds, etc. in order for our visual, auditory, etc systems to develop.
  5. 5. Experience dependent learning• EXPERIENCE DEPENDENT LEARNING – refers to additional skills developed over the lifespan (that the brain doesn’t expect• E.g. an eskimo child learning how to build an igloo – which may be dependent on Observational learning (or Operant conditioning)• There is no optimal period for experience dependent learning e.g. you can learn how drive when your 16, 30 or 50 (older people may struggle due to age related memory decline e.g. slowing of the Central.N.S)
  6. 6. Experience Expectant vs Experience Dependent Learning Experience expectant learning Experience dependent learningStage of Lifespan that Early in life Over the lifespan in responsethe genetic structural to complex environmentalmodifications occur stimuliDuring which period During the ‘Sensitive Periods’ There is no optimal period i.e. It occurs over the lifespanLanguage Development of primary language Development of 2nd Language (the brain expects to be exposed to (it is dependent on exposure language) to environmental stimuli)General or Specific General – e.g. We are all exposed Unique to individuals e.g. to visual stimuli, thus the brain Exposure to igloo building at a expects and is highly responsive to young age for eskimos visual stimuli during the sensitive periods