Now, let’s look at
development of cognition.
Now, let’s look at
development of cognition.
So how is this
happening over time?
We know that we’re not
born with full cognition.
This is something
So Jean Piaget was a
and he studied cognitive
development in children.
And what he believed is
that children were not
“mini-versions” of adults
but instead were unique
and that they actually develop
and change over time.
So children form mental frameworks
termed “schemas” that are formed and
shaped by experience, and, again,
we’ve used this term “schema” before.
And so it’s really important that we
understand that the schemas that we ultimately
use as adults a lot of times are shaped
by what’s being done as children.
So new experiences
will either be,
either A, assimilated, which conforms
to an existing schema, or accommodated
and it’s adjusted
to fix our schemas.
So the schema is a
And if something
aligns quite nicely,
it’s easily for us to incorporate
that into our existing schema,
if it’s different and you’re like, “Wow!
I’ve never seen that,” or
“Never thought of it that way before,”
we need to adjust our schema.
So an example would be a
Boogie monster in the closet.
Now, we know that
there’s no such thing.
As adults, there’s no such
thing as a Boogie monster.
There’s no scary monster period.
And so that goes against a schema that the
child might have that monsters exist,
but when they grow up and
they realize that monsters
don’t exist, you have
to adjust your schema.
So, Piaget’s model included four developmental
stages and we’ll go through each.
The first is the
This is really, really early
on, so birth to age two.
Then we move on to the
preoperational stage, two to seven,
the concrete operational
stage, seven to eleven,
and then formal operational
stage, twelve to adulthood.
Now, these time points are
sort of generalizations, so,
you know, it’s not that at two
you automatically move on to
the preoperational stage.
These are just sort of guesstimates of
roughly when these transitions happen.
So, the sensorimotor stage
is when infants utilize
their senses and movement
to experience the world.
So basically, they’re
engaging with the world.
So we say sensorimotor because
they’re using their
senses and motor function
to respond to the
environment around them.
This is also when they determine - they
generate something called object permanence.
So this is the understanding that objects
continue to exist when they’re out of sight.
So as a child, the child believes that
whatever is in their immediate view
is happening live, happening
now, and when they turn away,
they believe that that event of
that object has stopped existing.
As you get a little bit
older, we realize that
if you have a ball or a toy
and you put it away and you
leave and go to bed or you leave
your house, you come back,
that toy will be there.
So this is a kind of it sounds pretty obvious
to us now, but that’s kind of a big deal.
They also demonstrate
So when you see
somebody that’s new,
they realize that this is different and
they haven’t seen this individual,
this object, this person before, and they
demonstrate some anxiety around them.
In the preoperational stage, children
learn that the object can be represented
through words and images, so now,
they’re making that association.
So, that’s kind of cool.
So, they’re able to say, you know,
“baba” which means bottle to them.
And they’re able to look
at words and associate
“mama,” “dada,” and all
these different things.
So, now we see the development
of learning and language.
These are all huge sort
of cognitive checkmarks,
but they lack logical reasoning and they do
not understand that others have different
perspectives because everything revolves
around them, they’re quite egocentric.
And so if you try and, you know, dissuade
a baby to do something or a child,
they usually get quite upset because
of the egocentricity that they have.
They also don’t understand logic when
you’re trying to negotiate with a child.
That doesn’t always
go over so well.
Next is the concrete
So here, children learn to think
logically about concrete events.
So things that seem quite
obvious and clear,
they start to realize that
there is actually some
potentially wiggle room
and that you start to
generate and see that
there are kind of laws.
So they learn the principle of
conservation and this is when
they realize that the quantity remains
the same despite change in shape.
So you can see here on the
image we have A and B.
At the top, this is a cylinder
that is half filled with water
or a solution, a
delicious green liquid.
And you can see that it's
consistent in both A and B.
Now if you are to take the
solution that is in B
and you put it into a
it’s actually the same volume,
but it looks slightly different
and it’s in a different
horizontally laid out
wide flask container.
So the child will actually
understand that this is
the same quantity of volume
So there’s an understanding of mathematical
concepts, the concept of volume,
the concept perhaps of the shape
of the container that it’s in.
Now we get to the formal operational
stage and this is when they
learn abstract reasoning or
hypothesizing and moral reasoning.
So what’s right or what’s
wrong, and they learn
how to think through
things in their mind.
So, again, you got to
remember we’re relating all
this to cognition, so how
do we think about things.
This is the stage now they’re starting to
reason and this is really, really important.
So we’re going to summarize
some of these things.
We have the sensorimotor stage, the child
begins to interact with the environment.
Preoperational stage, the child begins
to represent the world symbolically.
Concrete operational stage,
the child learns rules
such as conservation and the
transferring of volume.
And the formal operational
stage, where the adolescent can
transcend the concrete situation
and think about the future,
and think of more - think of
things that are less absolute.
Now, how does culture
influence our thinking?
So we know for a fact quite
clearly in all of the lectures,
culture keeps coming up because we
know that it plays such a huge role
in personality, in
behavior, in cognition.
So the individual learns
social relationships and
culture and converts these
into mental capabilities.
So if your culture is telling you
this is how you need to act and this
is how you interact with others,
this is how you should be behaving,
you actually learn the
mental capabilities to
be able to perform those
So now we’re starting
to get a relationship
between language and
expression of thought.
This is also a huge deal.
And so there’s culturally
specific language and therefore,
if you need to express yourself, you need
to be able to understand your language
and you need to make that
language, cognition, and
then expression of thought.
Internalized speech is
only developed after the
child speaks out loud
and receives feedback.
So in the earlier
stages of childhood,
children tend to make sounds and
they have this self-talk we call it,
where they just --
they what seems like speaking gibberish
and say words while they’re playing.
That internal speech
starts to come out.
And when they start
saying certain words,
and we’ve eluded this before, you
know, your baby or a child is sitting
there and then starts speaking for
the first time and says a word.
If it’s a word that you know,
you become extremely happy and
they get that positive feedback.
So when they say “dada” for
the first time, you lose it.
You’re like, “Oh my God!
My baby said dada. My baby
loves me and understands.
So smart, genius baby!”
And the baby sees this
excitement as opposed to when
the baby is talking gibberish
like blah, blah, blah.
The parent just looks at and going when
is my child going to learn to speak?
And as soon as they hear an
actual word, it’s a full freak out.
And so that positive
feedback allows the child
to learn and start
making that association.
So cognitively, it’s making that
association between positive
feedback, content, and the
words that they’re saying.
So different languages result
in different ways of thinking,
and this further supports our
previous point in that the culture
and language is going to
influence expression of thought.
So if your culture has a different way
of thinking that’s going to impact
the way you process information, it’s
going to also impact the way you think.
Multilingual people, these people
who speak more than one language,
perform differently on personality
tests based on language.
This is really interesting.
So if you have somebody who speaks
two or three or four languages
when you’re speaking to them
in English for example,
they would perform
differently on a test versus
if you ask them to do the
exact same test in German
or ask them to do the same test in Mandarin,
in French, and you’ll get different
based on language.
Now, let’s take a
look at genetics.
So we know that both heredity
and environmental factors
can interact to shape cognitive
development and function.
So, in English, we break
those two components apart.
The way your parents think and have raised
you are some of the environmental factors.
But then, they’ve also passed
on their genetic information.
So, cognitively speaking,
how you develop is
shaped by a combination
of those two things.
So some of it is outside
of your control,
the genes that you’re given are
the genes that you’re given.
The environmental factor,
while you’re subjected to
the schools that you go to, the
things that your parents show you,
these will influence then your
cognitive development based on that.
So the genetics provides the biological
predispositions or the raw skills.
And then the environmental factors will
bring you the sociocultural drivers
that will shape and develop your
capabilities in terms of cognition.
So the problem is neither
factor alone can explain
and determine your level
of cognitive development.
So it’s not that if you
have great genetics,
you’re guaranteed to be a great thinker
and have good cognitive abilities.
And if you’re in a great
sociocultural stand or status
that also doesn’t mean that it’s
going to explain everything.
So it’s a combination of those
two factors and then some.
So some of the biological factors
that can affect your cognition
are directly influenced and mediated
by structures in the brain.
And so in some of the other modules
that we’ve talked about, we’ve linked
function to brain structure,
and cognition is no different.
So environmental stimuli,
so the sensory information
that’s coming in, is
sent to specific lobes.
The three lobes of interest
that we’re going to talk about
here are the parietal,
occipital, and temporal lobes.
Now, the sensory information forms
the basis for cognitive processes.
So what we’re saying is that info is going
to come in and it needs to be processed.
And so it’s really, really important
that we have associated areas in
the brain and we have the ability to
process that sensory information.
Now the frontal lobe manages executive
functions, so it’s the quarterback.
And it deals with planning, organizing,
inhibiting impulses, and flexible thinking.
So it’s the conductor of the
orchestra and it allows us to
piece together all these
different sensory information,
and it also allows us to determine how
we’re going to react to that information.
Memory formation and retrieval
is mediated by the hippocampus.
So we’ve mentioned
that before, as well.
So the structure is where
memories are stored.
It’s where memories
are retrieved from.
So a very, very important place,
and so it obviously has a
huge role in cognition
because a lot of what
we do is based on
episodic or things that
have happened to us,
events that have happened
to us in the past.
The amygdala brings some emotion to
it and so does the limbic system.
If you remember the limbic system
is what contains the reward
pathway, a lot of dopamine
projections and dopamine activity.
So emotion, reward, these are going to
have a huge role in cognition as well.
Interaction and function of these brain sites
underlies individual cognitive skills.
So if you layer this biological
aspect along with the
other aspects that we’ve mentioned,
that gives you a more complete
understanding of how we’re actual to
ably develop our cognitive skills.