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Chapter 3 The Brain and Cognitive Development.docx

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Chapter 3 The Brain and Cognitive Development The Brain The neuroconstructivist view This increasingly popular view states that biological processes and environmental conditions influence the brain’s development; the brain has plasticity; and cognitive development is closely linked with brain development o A. biological processes (genes) Environmental experiences (enriched or impoverished) influence the brains development o B. the brain has plasticity and is context dependent o C. development of the brain is linked closely with cognitive development Neurons Neurons - nerve cells, which are the nervous system’s basic units. o Made up of a cell body, dendrites and axons Myelination - is the process by which the axon portion of the neuron becomes covered and insulated with a layer of fat cells, which increases the speed and efficiency of information processing in the nervous system. o Myelination continues to increase during adolescence Synaptogenesis in the prefrontal cortex where reasoning and self-regulation occur, also continues through adolescence Brain structure, cognition, and emotion The corpus callosum - a large bundle of axon fibers that connects the brain’s left and right hemispheres, thickens in adolescence, and this thickening improves the adolescent’s ability to process information. The prefrontal cortex- the highest level of the frontal loves that is involved in reasoning, decision making, and self-control, matures much later (continuing to develop in emerging adulthood) than the amygdala, o Amygdala – limbic system structure especially involved in emotions such as anger. The later development of the prefrontal cortex combined with the earlier maturity of the amygdala may explain the difficult adolescents have in putting the brakes on their emotional intensity. Experience and plasticity Experience plays an important role in development of the brain in childhood and adolescence. Although, early experiences are very important influences on brain development, the brain retains considerable plasticity in adolescence New brain cells may be generated during adolescence. The earlier brain injury occurs; the more successful recovery is likely to be The cognitive developmental view Piaget’s theory Piaget’s widely acclaimed theory stresses the concept of adaptation, schemas, assimilation, accommodation, and equilibration.
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o Assimilation - the incorporation of new information into existing knowledge o Accommodation - an adjustment of a schema in response to new information o Schemas - a mental concept or framework that is useful in organizing and interpreting information o Equilibration - a mechanism in Piaget’s theory that explains how individuals shift from one state of thought to the next. The shift occurs as individuals experience cognitive conflict or disequilibrium in trying to understand the world. Eventually the individual resolves the conflict and reaches a balance, or equilibrium of thought
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