Chapter 7 OutlinePlease note that much of this information is quoted from the text.I. THE INFORMATION-PROCESSING APPROACH A. The Information-Processing Approach and Its Application to Development • Emphasizes that individuals manipulate information, monitor it, and create strategies about it. • Effective information processing involves attention, memory, and thinking. •Mechanisms of change are especially important in the advances children make in cognitive development. • Three mechanisms work together to create changes in children’s cognitive skills: • Encoding is the process by which information gets into memory. • Automaticity refers to the ability to process information with little or no effort. • Strategy construction is the creation of new procedures for processing information. •Information processing is also characterized by self-modification (use what has been learned in the past to adapt responses to a new situation. •Part of self-modification draws on metacognition, which means “knowing about knowing.” • Children play an active role in their cognitive development. B. Speed of Processing Information • Speed of processing can be a limitation since it influences what we can do with information. • Many everyday tasks are constrained by the time that is available. • Speed of processing can be assessed with reaction-time tasks. C. Changes in Speed of Processing • Increases from childhood to young adulthood, and gradually declines thereafter. • Increases in processing speed in children are preceded by an increase in working memory capacity. • The decline in processing speed in older adults is likely due to a decline in functioning of the brain and central nervous system. • Health and exercise may influence how much decline in processing speed occurs. D. Does Processing Speed Matter? • Processing speed has been linked to competence in thinking. • The strategies that people learn through experience may compensate for any decline in processing speed with age.II. ATTENTION A. What Is Attention? • Attention is the focusing of mental resources. • Attention improves cognitive processing for many tasks. • At any one time, people can pay attention to only a limited amount of information. • Individuals can allocate their attention in the following ways: o Selective attention is focusing on a specific aspect of experience that is relevant while ignoring others that are irrelevant.
o Divided attention involves concentrating on more than one activity at the same time. o Sustained attention (vigilance) is the ability to maintain attention to a selected stimulus for a prolonged period of time. o Executive attention involves action planning, allocating attention to goals, error detection and compensation, monitoring progress on tasks, and dealing with novel or difficult circumstances.B. Infancy 1. Orienting/Investigative Process • Attention in the first year of life is dominated by an orienting/investigating process. • This process involves direction attention to potentially important locations in the environment and recognizing objects and their features. • Between 3 to 9 months of age, infants demonstrate this process. • Sustained attention (or focused attention) is apparent as young as 3 months of age. • Length of sustained attention increases throughout infancy. 2. Habituation and Dishabituation • Infants’ attention is strongly governed by novelty and habituation. • Knowing about habituation and dishabituation can help parents interact effectively with infants. • In parent-infant interaction, it is important for parents to do novel things and to repeat them often until the infant stops responding. • The parent stops or changes behaviors when the infant redirects his or her attention. 3. Joint Attention • Another aspect of attention that is an important aspect of infant development is joint attention, in which individuals focus on the same object or event. • Joint attention requires the following: o An ability to track another’s behavior o One person directing another’s attention o Reciprocal interaction • Emerging forms of joint attention occur at about 7 to 8 months of age, but continues to develop throughout the first year. • Joint attention increases infants’ ability to learn from other people.C. Childhood and Adolescence • The child’s ability to pay attention improves significantly during the preschool years. • Young children especially make advances in two aspects of attention – executive function and sustained attention. • A young child’s control of attention is still deficient in two ways: o Salient versus relevant dimensions o Planfulness • Preschool children’s ability to control and sustain attention is related to school readiness. • Attention to relevant information increases steadily through the elementary and secondary school years. • Processing of irrelevant information decreases in adolescence. • Older children and adolescents are better than younger children at tasks that
require shifts of attention. • One trend involving divided attention is adolescents’ multi-tasking, which in some case involves not just dividing attention between two activities, but even three or more. • Multi-tasking expands the information adolescents attend to and forces the brain to share processing resources, which can distract the adolescent’s attention from what might be most important at the moment. • It appears that some high multi-tasking adolescents can hold more information in short-term memory and keep it separated into what they need to know and not know. However, this ability decreases as task complexity increases. D. Adulthood • Attentional skills, divided attention, and multi-tasking skills are similar in adulthood to that in adolescents; however, older adults may not be able to focus on relevant information as effectively as younger adults. • Older adults tend to be less adept at selective attention than younger adults. • Vigilance decreases in older adults if the tasks are complex.III. MEMORY A. What is memory? Memory is the retention of information over time. 1. Processes of Memory • Researchers study how information is initially placed or encoded into memory, how it is retained or stored after being encoded, and how it is found or retrieved for a certain purpose later. • Encoding, storage, and retrieval are the basic processes required for memory. • Failures can occur in any of these processes. 2. Constructing Memory • Memories may be inaccurate for a number of reasons. • According to schema theory, people mold memories to fit information that already exists in their minds. o This process is guided by schemas. • Schemas influence the way people encode, make inferences about, and retrieve information. • We reconstruct the past rather than take an exact photograph of it, and the mind can distort an event as it encodes and stores impressions of it. 3. Contexts of Life-Span Development: Culture, Gender, and Memory • A culture sensitizes its members to certain objects, events, and strategies, which in turn can influence the nature of memory. • The cultural specificity hypothesis states that cultural experiences determine what is relevant in a person’s life and, thus, what the person is likely to remember. • Researchers have found gender differences in memory: o Females are better at episodic memory, which is memory for personal events that include the time and place the event occurred. o Females are better than males at emotion-linked memory. o Males are better than females on tasks that require transformations in visuospatial working memory. o Females may process information more elaborately and in greater detail, whereas males may be more likely to use schemas or focus on overall
information.B. Infancy 1. First Memories • Infants can remember perceptual-motor information. Even by 2½ months the baby’s memory is incredibly detailed. • Implicit memory refers to memory without conscious recollection. • Explicit memory refers to the conscious memory of facts and experiences. • Explicit memory improves across the first two years. • Maturation of the hippocampus and the surrounding cerebral cortex, especially the frontal lobes, makes the improvement of explicit memory possible. 2. Infantile Amnesia • The inability to remember little if anything from the first three years of your life is called infantile amnesia. • The immaturity of the prefrontal lobes of the brain is believed to play a role in infantile amnesia.C. Childhood 1. Short-Term and Working Memory • Long-term memory is relatively permanent and unlimited. • Short-term memory involves the retention of information for up to 15 to 30 seconds, without rehearsal of the information. 2. Memory Span • Research suggests that short-term memory increases during childhood. • There are individual differences in short-term memory ability. • Rehearsal of information and speed of processing are important factors in memory span. 3. Working memory • Working memory is defined as a kind of mental “workbench” where individuals manipulate and assemble information when they make decisions, solve problems, and comprehend written and spoken language. • Working memory is linked to children’s reading comprehension and problem solving. 4. Children’s Long-Term Memory • Sometimes the long-term memories of preschoolers seem to be erratic, but young children can remember a great deal of information if they are given appropriate cues and prompts. • Several factors influence the accuracy of a young child’s memory: • There are age differences in children’s susceptibility to suggestion. • There are individual differences in susceptibility • Interviewing techniques can produce substantial distortions in children’s reports about highly salient events. • Whether a young child’s eyewitness testimony is accurate or not may depend on a number of factors mentioned above. • Children’s memory improves even more as they move into the middle and late adulthood. 5. Strategies involve the use of mental activities to improve the processing of information • For memory, rehearsing information and organizing are two typical strategies that older children (and adults) use to remember information more
effectively. • Creating mental images in another strategy for improving memory. • One important strategy is elaboration, which involves engaging in more extensive processing of information. o The use of elaboration changes developmentally. • Fuzzy trace theory states that memory is best understood by considering two types of memory representations: verbatim memory trace and gist. 6. Knowledge • An especially important influence on memory is the knowledge that individuals possess about a specific topic or skill.D. Adulthood – not all memory changes with age in the same way. 1. Working Memory and Processing Speed • Two important cognitive resources that are linked with aging are working memory and processing speed. • One study found that working memory performance generally increased across childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood, peaked at 45 years of age, and declined at 57 years of age. • Processing speed declines in middle and late adulthood. o This is linked with a decline in working memory. 2. Explicit and Implicit Memory • Explicit memory can be subdivided into episodic memory and semantic memory. o Episodic memory is the retention of information about the where and when of life’s happenings. Autobiographical memory is the personal recollection of events and facts. The reminiscence bump is where adults remember more events from the second and third decades of their lives than from other decades. o Semantic memory is a person’s knowledge about the world. • Implicit memory is sometimes referred to as procedural memory. 3. Aging and Explicit Memory • Younger adults have better episodic memory than older adults. • Older adults take longer to retrieve semantic memory, but usually they can ultimately retrieve it. • A common memory problem for older adults is the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon, in which individuals can’t quite retrieve familiar information but have the feeling that they should be able to retrieve it. 4. Research in Life-Span Development: How Well do Adults Remember What They Learned in High School and College Spanish? • When older adults are assessed for what they learned in high school or college, researchers find neither great durability in memory nor huge deterioration. 5. Aging and Implicit Memory • Implicit memory is less likely to be adversely affected by aging than explicit memory. 6. Source Memory • Source memory is the ability to remember where one learned something. • Failure of source memory increase with age in the adult years. • When information is more relevant to older adults, age differences in source
memory are less robust. 7. Prospective Memory • Prospective memory involves remembering to do something in the future. • Some researchers have found a decline in prospective memory with age. • The cause of the decline is complex and depends on such factors as the nature of the task and what is being assessed.IV. THINKING A. What is thinking? Thinking involves manipulating and transforming information in memory. This often is done to form concepts, to reason, to think critically, and to solve problems. B. Childhood 1. Concept formation and categorization in infancy • Concepts are categories that use common properties as a basis for grouping objects, events, and characteristics. • Infants develop conceptual categories around 7 to 9 months of age. • Researchers use the object-examination test to determine if infants can form conceptual categories. • Mandler argues that these early categorizations are best described as perceptual categorization. • Further advances in categorization occur in the second year of life, including being able to categorize objects based on their shape. • Some young children develop an intense, passionate interest in a specific category of objects or activities. • The infant’s advances in processing information – through attention, memory, imitation, and concept formation – is much richer more gradual, and less stage- like, and occurs earlier than was envisioned by earlier theorists, such as Piaget. 2. Critical thinking: involves grasping the deeper meaning of ideas, keeping an open mind about different approaches and perspectives, and deciding for oneself what to believe or do. • Theorists suggest that few schools teach students to think critically. 3. Scientific Thinking • Scientific reasoning is often aimed at identifying causal relations. • Children tend to be more influenced by random events than by a pattern of events, and children maintain their own theories despite conflicting evidence. • Children have difficulty designing experiments to determine the cause of an event from several alternatives. • Too often, the skills scientists’ use, such as careful observation, graphing, self- regulatory thinking, and knowing when and how to apply one’s knowledge to solve problems, are not routinely taught in schools. • It is important for teachers to at a minimum initially scaffold students’ science learning, extensively monitor their progress, and ensure that they are learning science content. 4. Solving Problems—problem solving involves finding an appropriate way to attain a goal. a. Using strategies to Solve Problems •Pressley believes that the key to education is helping students learn a variety of strategies for solving problems. •When instructing children about employing the strategy, the teacher also should explain how using the strategy will benefit them.
•Learning to use strategies effectively often takes time. •Children often use more than one strategy. •Researchers argue that education needs to be restructured so that students are provided with more opportunities to become competent strategic learners. •Many strategies depend on prior knowledge. b. Using Analogies to Solve Problems •An analogy involves correspondence in some respects between things that are dissimilar. •The development of analogical problem solving resembles that of scientific reasoning. •Some types of analogical reasoning occur as early as 1 and 2 years of age. •Children can use a variety of tools to draw analogies, but they can easily forget that an object is being used as a symbol of something else and instead take it as being of interest as an object in its own right.C. Adolescence 1. Critical Thinking •If a solid basis of fundamental skills (such as literacy and math) is not developed during childhood, critical-thinking skills are unlikely to mature in adolescence. •Some of the cognitive changes that allow for improved critical thinking in adolescence are these: •Increased speed, automaticity, and capacity of information processing, which free cognitive resources for other purposes. •More knowledge in a variety of domains •An increased ability to construct new combinations of knowledge. •A greater range and more spontaneous use of strategies or procedures such as planning, considering alternatives, and cognitive monitoring. •Many adolescents show a self-serving bias in their reasoning. 2. Decision-making skills increase from childhood through adolescence, when they can take a variety of perspectives, anticipate consequences, and consider the credibility of sources. • However, adolescents’ decision-making skills are far from perfect and being able to make competent decisions does not guarantee that one will make them in everyday life, where breadth of experience often comes into play. • Adolescents make better decisions when their emotions are calm. • The social context plays a key role in adolescent decision-making.D. Adulthood 1. Practical Problem Solving and Expertise • Problem-solving and decision making effectiveness remains stable in early and middle adulthood, then declines in late adulthood. • Expertise, or having an extensive, highly organized knowledge and understanding of a particular domain, is usually the result of many years of experience and, therefore, is greater in adulthood than before. o Experts tend to process information differently from the way novices do within their domain. 2. Education, Work, and Health • Education, work, and health are three important influences on the cognitive functioning of older adults. o Education is correlated with higher cognitive ability in late adulthood. o Successive generations have had work experiences that include a
stronger emphasis on cognitively oriented labor. o Cognitively complex work is correlated with higher intellectual functioning in older adults. o Successive generations have also been healthier in late adulthood as better treatments for a variety of illnesses have been developed. o Physical and mental health are related to cognitive functioning in older adults. 3. Cognitive Neuroscience and Aging • The field of cognitive neuroscience has emerged as the major discipline that studies links between brain and cognitive functioning. • Changes in the brain can influence cognitive functioning, and changes in cognitive functioning can influence the brain. • The cognitive neuroscience of aging is beginning to uncover some important links between aging, the brain, and cognitive functioning. 4. “Use It or Lose It”—disuse may result in some of the changes in older adulthood. The activities suggested to maintain cognitive skills are reading books, doing crossword puzzles, and going to lectures and concerts. • “Use it or lose it” also is a significant component of the engagement model of cognitive optimization that emphasizes how intellectual and social engagement can buffer age related declines in intellectual development. 5. Cognitive training improved problem solving in 70- and 80-year-old adults to a higher level than it had been in their 60s, remediated cognitive decline in elderly adults, and enhanced the performance of those who were not showing decline. However, there is some loss in plasticity in late adulthood. • Applications in Life-Span Development: Cognitive Training with Older Adults o Cognitive training has been used to maintain fluid intelligence with advancing age. o Cognitive training can increase mindfulness. Mindfulness involves generating new ideas, being open to new information, and being aware of multiple perspectives. o A recent study trained older adults to increase their processing speed. o Researchers are also finding that improving the physical fitness of older adults can improve their cognitive functioning.V. METACOGNITION (knowing about knowing) A. What is metacognition? Metacognitive skills have been used to teach students to solve math problems and are thought to be helpful for critical thinking. • Metamemory is an individuals’ knowledge about memory, and it is an especially important form of metacognition. • Metacognition helps people to perform many cognitive tasks more effectively. B. Theory of Mind • Theory of mind refers to awareness of one’s own mental processes and the mental processes of others. • Developmental changes: o Two- to three-year-olds are able to understand perceptions, desires, and emotions. However, these children only have a minimal understanding of the connection between mental life and behavior. o Four- to five-year-olds begin to understand that mental representation may or may not be accurate. In other words, one may hold a false belief (beliefs that are
not true). o Children often underestimate when mental activity is likely occurring. o Children’s understanding of their own thinking is limited. o Beyond age five to seven, children have a deepening appreciation of the mind itself rather than just an understanding of mental states. o Not until middle and late childhood do children see the mind as an active constructor of knowledge or processing center and move from understanding that beliefs can be false to realizing that the same event can be open to multiple interpretations. o In early adolescence, children begin to understand that people can have ambivalent feelings. o Adolescents also engage in more recursive thinking. • Individual differences o There are individual differences in when children reach certain milestones in their theory of mind. o Children with many and/or older siblings tend to reach milestones quicker. o Children who talk with their parents about feelings reach milestones quicker. o Executive function may be connected to theory of mind development. • Theory of Mind and Autism o Children and adults with autism have difficulty in social interactions, often described as huge deficits in theory of mind.C. Metamemory (knowledge about memory) in Children •By 5 or 6 years of age, children know that familiar items are easier to learn than novel ones, that recognition is easier than recall, and that forgetting is more likely to occur over time. •Preschool children have an inflated opinion of their memory abilities. •By age 7 or 8, children begin to appreciate the importance of cognitive cueing.D. Metacognition in Adolescence and Adulthood •Adolescents are more likely to manage and monitor their cognitive resources to effectively meet the demands of a learning task. •Adolescents have a better understanding than children as to how to deploy their attention to different aspects of a task. •Adolescents have better meta-level understanding strategies than children. •By middle age, adults have accumulated a great deal of metacognitive knowledge which helps them combat memory decline. •Older adults tend to overestimate their daily memory problems and are more aware of and anxious about even minor memory failures.