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Cognitive development in Adolescence I: fundamentals: formal Operational Reasoning

overview: -four features of adolescent thought - operational reasoning- Piaget revisited -Perception, Attention, Memory and executive functions - information processing theory revisited
four features of adolescent thought
1. Hypothetical and abstract reasoning
2. Metacognitive thinking
3. forward thinking ( thinking about the future)
4. Thinking about conventional limits
Hypothetical and abstract reasoning
Whereas a younger child would make a decsion without first contemplating the range of possibilites, adolescents can generate and mentally test hypotheses and can also think about situations that contrary to fact
Metacognitive thinking
Thinking about one's own thinking becomes more complex, and adolescents can also think more deeply about others' point of view
Forward thinking
Adolescents are better able to plan ahead for events ( schedule for school, work, leisure time etc. ) than are younger children who have a greater tendency to respond to here and now
Thinking about conventional limits
- Adolescents rethink fundamental issues of social relations, morality, politics , law and religion
- capable of seeing the beneficial, rather than just the punitive, side of laws
-become aware and interested in universal ethical principles and are critical of adults's hypocrises
Piagets formal operational period
Ability to think systematically about all logical␣ relations within a problem, joined with keen ␣ interest in abstract ideas and in the process of ␣ thinking itself.␣
Piaget's "combination-of-variables" problems␣ "indicate the presence of systematic problem␣ "-solving and understanding of the "structured␣ " whole".␣
Deductive reasoning␣
the balance problem
Robert Siegler (1979) gave children a balance beam task in which some discs were placed either side of the center of balance. The researcher changed the number of discs or moved them along the beam, each time asking the child to predict which way the balance would go.He studied the answers given by children from five years upwards, concluding that they apply rules which develop in the same sequence as, and thus reflect, Piaget's findings. Like Piaget, he found that eventually the children were able to take into account the interaction between the weight of the discs and the distance from the center, and so successfully predict balance. However, this did not happen until participants were between 13 and 17 years of age. He concluded that children's cognitive development is based on acquiring and using rules in increasingly more complex situations, rather than in stages.
cultural- context perspective
Specialized practice in particular domains of experience gives rise to systematic thought (e.g., it is common for people to reason differently in everyday situations than in formal experiments).␣
An example...␣ the baking a cake scenario.
Reasoning by logical necessity
Underlies deductive reasoning (e.g., general premise, specific premise, conclusion)␣
Begins to appear ~ ages 11-12 (6th grade), although much variation (e.g., under what circumstances it is displayed)␣

If a card has a vowel, it must also have an odd number. which card or cards must you turn over to determine if the rule has been violated ?

E K 4 7

- this is a difficult task to achieve in a lab setting.
information processing approach
the human mind is an information-processing device that is analogous to a computer.
Therefore, the mind has a limited copacity, a defined limit for speed of processing, hardware, Software.
the multistore model
It starts off with an environmental input, then feeds into the sensory store ( logs input). with attention it leads to the short-term ( "working") memory ( this is where information is held temportarily and executes operations on information). From this point the info can go two different directions. It can lead to responses, or with more attention focused on the info lead to the long-term memeory. This requires retrival. The exacutive control processes (plan and run each phase of information processing that is, regulate attention, select appropriate memory processes and problem solving strategies, and monitor quality of tentative answers and solutions.
Focus on four components
1. attention
2. working memeory and strategies
3. speed of processing
4. REsponse inhibition
internal processes used to set priorities for mental functioning ( limitations on how much the brain can process at one time); effortful
selective attention
focus on a specific aspect of experience that is relevant while ignoring others that are irrelevant
divided attention
concentrating on more than one task at a time ( multi-tasking)
sustained attention
Maintain attention to a single task for an extended period
executive attention
action planning, attention to goals, monitoring responses, accommodating to new and novel task, decision-making.
a processes that doesnt require attention. fast, effortless processing requiring little or no attention.

typically are simple tasks or more complex ones that have been developed through extended practice
classic studies In attention
-Change blindness: visual perception, attention, and "awareness"

- divided attention in the modern world - multitasking when the cognitive load is high is a myth
distracted driving
distracted walking
attention in adolescence
General Consensus: Steady increases in several domains across childhood and in the transition to early adolescence (e.g., up to approx. 11-12 years of age)␣ Most aspects level off in adolescence (or show a very gradual increase to young adulthood) BUT is highly dependent on specific tasks and the methodology used␣For example: ␣
"There are simultaneous changes to strategies for use of attention (executive function) and metacognitive processes, including the ability to reactivate recent memory traces.␣ Therefore, increased function in other domains (e.g., working memory, automaticity, shifting between current task and reactivation of memory traces in LTM etc.) all confound strict "attention" tasks␣ The Question: Are observed changes due to attention per se or are they due to better management of cognitive resources in multiple domains?␣
stroop test
neuropsych test
measure of cognitive flexibility and selective attention; frontal lobes
color word printed in other color, task is to name color of ink
prepotent response: habitual response to read the name
left frontal lesion= unable to inhibit prepotent

- automaticity vs. effeortful processing
selective attention
speed processing
response inhibition
how did adolescents do on this task?
short term and working memory
Amount of storage versus efficiency of processing␣
Memory span, capacity␣ Visual and Verbal Semantic Memory␣
N-back tasks
is a memory test where n refers on how many previous stimuli must be remembered. Dual means that verbal auditory stimulus and spatial visual stimulus are presented at the same time. Two memory tests are ran simultaneously and n previous auditory and spatial targets must be remembered separately
measuring working memory across the lifespan
Tasks␣ Semantic Association (recall and categories)␣
Digit Sequence (recall and serial)␣ Visual Matrix (location and matrix)␣ Mapping/Directions (location and routes)␣

according to swansons data, sematic association, didget/sequesnce, visual matrix, and mapping/ directions all increase with age. sematic association and mapping directions are increasing at a slower rate though, while the visual matrix has a huge spike
Verbal and Non-Verbal fluency = speed of processing and use of LTM in WM (access to previously stored information)␣
Semantic: Verbal and figures (black)␣ Phonetic: "m" words and simple geometric
line drawings (purple)␣
Capacity does not appear to change, rather strategies for increasing capacity may become more efficient␣
There are gradual increases in performance on tasks that utilize working memory in both the verbal and visuospatial domains␣ Methodology is crucial (i.e., is the dependent measure latency to respond, speed of response, or accuracy?)␣
executive functions
Use of strategies␣ Planning␣ Monitoring␣ Shifts of attention␣ Response inhibition␣
developmental strategies
Goal-directed, deliberate mental operation to
facilitate task performance␣
Early strategy deficiencies␣ Production deficiencies␣ Utilization deficiencies␣
How do strategies change over time?␣ Siegler's adaptive strategy choice model␣
examples of strategies used by Swanson
Verbal strategies (pictorial representations) = rehearsing, chunking, associating, and elaborating of information␣
Visuospatial strategies (pictorial representations) = elemental, global, sectional, or backward processing of patterns␣
evolution of strategies with age
Six types of change that contribute to the development of strategic thinking:␣
1. The acquisition of new strategies␣
2. Changes in the frequencies with which existing strategies are used␣
3. Changes in the speed of executing strategies␣
4. Changes in the accuracy with which strategies are carried out␣
5. Changes in the degree to which strategies are used automatically␣
6. Changes in the range of situations in which each strategy can be applied␣
Suppression of reflexive saccades (keep eyes directed to the fixation point, despite distracting stimuli)␣Tasks␣
Anti-saccade errors (fixation point, peripheral stimulus, direct gaze opposite to the stimulus)␣ Tasks␣
Stop-signal reaction time (cease responding with button presses to a visual target X and O when a tone sounds)␣
Planning, monitoring, shifts of attention, use of strategies, inhibition of impulsive responding etc.␣
Not necessarily related to changes in lower level working memory processes␣
Tower of London Problem␣ Tower of Hanoi Problem␣
tower of london problem
Age-related change in performance on simple versions of the TOL task = changes to working memory capacity (strategies?) and response inhibition␣
Asymptote by age 16␣ Age-related change in performance of more difficult versions = ability to hold sub-goals in mind (while enacting an overall planned strategy) and decreases in impulsive responding ␣
Continued improvement until age 30␣
tower of handoi problem
Strategy or algorithm is dependent on whether there are an odd or an even number of disks or items in the tower␣
What if there are an even number of disks?
An example of a highly practiced task and efficient use of a strategy to yield extremely high performance␣
Also illustrates errors in task performance