CHAPTER 4 - CHAPTER 4: DEVELOPING THROUGH THE LIFE SPAN...

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CHAPTER 4: DEVELOPING THROUGH THE LIFE SPAN Prenatal Development and the Newborn Conception and Prenatal Development Developmental   psychologists   examine   how   we   develop   physically,   cognitively,   and   socially,   from  conception to death. The life cycle begins when one sperm cell, out of the some 200 million ejaculated,  unites with an egg to form a zygote. Attached to the uterine wall, the developing embryo begins to form  body organs. By the ninth week, the fetus becomes recognizably human. The mother eats, drinks, and  breathes for two, so that any teratogens she ingests can reach the developing child and place it at risk. The Competent Newborn Using new methods, researchers have discovered that newborns are born with sensory equipment and  reflexes that facilitate their interacting with adults and securing nourishment. For example, they quickly  learn to discriminate the smell and sound of their mothers. Infancy and Childhood Physical Development Physical   development   includes   maturation   of   the   brain,   motor   development,   and   infant   memory  development. Within the brain, nerve cells form before birth. Sculpted by maturation and experience, their  interconnections   multiply   rapidly   after   birth.   Increased   brain   function   results   in   increased   physical  coordination.   Infants’   more   complex   physical   skills—sitting,   standing,   and   walking—develop   in   a  predictable sequence of motor development, which is almost completely universal. Similarly, most children  under the age of three will have no memory of their experiences. We lose conscious memories of  experiences from our earliest years. Experiments do, however, show that infants can retain learning over  time. Cognitive Development   Jean Piaget’s observations of children convinced him—and almost everyone else—that the mind of the  child is not that of a miniature adult. Piaget theorized that our mind develops by forming schemas that  help   us   assimilate   our   experiences   and   that   must   occasionally   be   altered   to   accommodate   new  information. In this way, children progress from the simplicity of the sensorimotor stage in the first two  years to more complex stages of thinking, which include a developing "theory of mind." Piaget believed that preschool children, in the preoperational stage, are egocentric and unable to perform  simple logical operations. At about age 6 or 7 they enter the concrete operational stage and can perform  concrete operations, such as those required to comprehend the principle of conservation. Finally, at about 
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CHAPTER 4 - CHAPTER 4: DEVELOPING THROUGH THE LIFE SPAN...

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