1 Researchers cannot tell what babies perceive the
challenge is, is to develop methods that allow infants
to demonstrate this
1.1 Piaget - sensori motor
stage - empiricist approach
Piaget - sensori motor stage - infants have to develop the links between sensation and actions eg. motor means movement as a basis for mental -representation - the experience of the child that reflects a child understanding of it
Piaget’s theory takes empiricism as a starting point, but also adds the process of construction, by which infants actively construct knowledge through action.
Piaget’s theory takes empiricism as a starting point, but also adds the process of construction, by which infants actively construct knowledge through action
According to Piaget, the ‘chaos’ of early perception only begins to make sense to babies as they interact with the world, through their own actions becoming linked with their perceptions
1.2 In contrast Nativism
Nativism proposes that the ever-changing nature of experience does not have sufficient stability to permit the formation of ideas and knowledge, and that there is already present in the mind at birth a whole range of concepts; abstract forms of knowledge that allow us to make sense of what we experience
Claim 1. is that infants emerge into the world with a basic, or ‘core’ knowledge about the physical world, including the world of physical objects and a basic understanding of numbers
Claim 2. is that infants enter the world with a representation of faces and of people as social objects (Meltzoff, 2004). This is known as the ‘social knowledge’ approach.
2 Sensation - Sight
Sensation is concerned with the ‘interface’ between the individual and the world: the signals that are generated in the sensory receptors (the retina of the eye, the cochlea of the ear, etc.) by the impact of different sorts of energy from the outside world
Eyes, in particular, are active, ‘intelligent’ parts of the body: they do a lot of immediate processing of the information they receive before passing on more concise electro-chemical messages to the brain. For example, by using electrodes to pick up the signals from the eye that arrive at the brain via the optic nerves.
So the information the brain has to work on to construct representations of the outside world is already pre-processed in quite sophisticated ways.
2.1 See summary notes on development
of babies visual system
Infants are born with physically immature sensory and nervous systems.
Many developmental theorists make assumptions about how infants perceive the world. Piaget assumed that the child can only learn from their sensory experiences through acting on the world. Other theorists claim that infants are born with a basic understanding of some aspects of their environment, either physical features, or social aspects of it.
Psychologists are interested in understanding how this immaturity impacts on their sensing and perception of the world. impacts on their sensing and perception of the world.
3 Perception the ability to become aware of
Perception is a mental construction of the outside world: for example, your perception of the words on this page is something that your brain has ‘constructed’ from lots of coded electrical impulses from your eyes. Piaget assumed that the child can only learn from their sensory experiences through acting on the world. Other theorists claim that infants are born with a basic understanding of some aspects of their environment, either physical features, or social aspects of it. Sensation, perception, cognition and behaviour are part of an integrated, dynamic system.
4 Cognition - Mental functions such as the
ability to think, reason and remember
Cognition involves the relating of one perception to other previous perceptions
5 Behaviour in babies
to find out about cognition in babies, and to begin to picture their perceptions, psychologists have to infer it from infants’ behaviour. In the earlier example of visual recognition of a parent, researchers would have to rely on behaviours like smiling, cooing, holding out the arms and so on; behaviours that are not evoked by adults that the baby has not seen before. So psychologists use differences in behaviour towards different things to make a judgement about what is perceived, and what perceptions and cognition this may be associated with
6 Infants Auditory System
The onset of hearing is around the sixth month of prenatal life, and at birth the anatomical structures outlined above are remarkably mature and functional, in contrast to the structures of the visual system.
There is no doubt that infants can hear quite well from the time that they are born, although their auditory threshold (sensitivity to low-intensity sound) is inferior to those of adults and older children: this sensitivity gradually improves over the early years. However, the evidence suggests that infants’ auditory abilities are very sophisticated even in newborns.
6.1 Auditory preferences
Infants show preferences for some stimuli over others, they also show preferences for some sounds over others. A different method has to be used to assess these preferences, however, since infants do not turn their ears towards particular sounds! They do turn their heads, though, and this ability to locate sounds is demonstrated straight after birth. Head-turning towards sounds is apparent in even the youngest infants, and this behaviour is used to examine the nature of early auditory preferences.
Also known as ‘infant-directed speech’, motherese refers to the way that adults change particular features of their speech when talking to very young children. Typically the voice is more high pitched, the language used is simpler, more words are stressed and intonation is exaggerated.
6.1.2 DeCasper and
Fifer (1980) research
DeCasper and Fifer (1980) used changes in infants’ sucking rates to allow infants to control which of two stimuli they experienced the sucking procedure.The stimuli used were audio-recordings; one of the infant’s own mother’s voice and one of a stranger’s voice. The results were clear: infants could clearly discriminate between these two voices because they consistently sucked so as to produce the sound of their mother’s voice.
As these infants were newborns, it is possible that they learned something about their mothers’ voices before they were born, because babies can hear sounds while still in the womb. DeCasper and Spence (1986) investigated this by asking pregnant mothers to read aloud a piece of prose repeatedly to their unborn babies. After they were born, these babies then showed a preference for this familiar prose over another matched piece that they had never heard before. These results suggest that infants’ aural preferences may be due at least in part to their experiences of sounds before they are born.
6.2 Summary - human
7.1 Empiricists view perception is learnt
7.2 Nativist view perception is
possible from birth