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in Piaget's theory, actions or mental representations that organize knowledge


Piagetian concept of the incorporation of new information into existing schemes


Piagetian concept of adjusting schemes to fit new information and experiences


Piaget's concept of grouping isolated behaviors and thoughts into a higher-order system, a more smoothly functioning cognitive system


cognitive conflict that occurs when a child is trying to understand the world


a mechanism that Piaget proposed to explain how children shift from one stage of thought to the next

sensorimotor stage

the first of Piaget's stgaes, which lasts from birth to about 2 years of age; infants construct an understanding of the world by coordinating sensory experiences with motoric actions

simple reflexes

Piaget's first sensorimotor substage, which corresponds to the first month after birth

simple reflexes

sensorimotor substage in which sensation and action are coordinated primarily through reflexive behaviors

first habits and primary circular reactions

Piaget's second sensorimotor substage, which develops between 1 and 4 months of age

first habits and primary circular reactions

sensorimotor substage in which the infant coordinates sensation and two types of schemes: habits and primary circular reactions


scheme based on a reflex that has become completely separated from eliciting stimulus

circular reaction

repetitive action

primary circular reaction

scheme based on the attempt to reproduce an event that initially occurred by chance

secondary circular reactions

Piaget's third sensorimotor substage, which develops between 4 and 8 months

secondary circular reactions

sensorimotor substage in which the infant becomes more object-oriented, moving beyond preoccupation with the self

coordination of secondary circular reactions

Piaget's fourth sensorimotor substage, which develops between 8 and 12 months of age

coordination of secondary circular reactions

actions become more outwardly directed, and infants coordinate schemes and act with intentionality

tertiary circular reactions, novelty, and curiosity

Piaget's fifth sensorimotor stage, which develops between 12 and 18 months of age

tertiary circular reactions, novelty, and curiosity

Piaget's sensorimotor substage in which infants become intrigued by the many properties of objects and by the many things they can make happen to objects

internalization of schemes

Piaget's sixth sensorimotor substage, which develops between 18 and 24 months

internalization of schemes

Piaget's sensorimotor substage in which the infant develops the ability to use primitive symbols

object permanence

understanding that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be seen, heard, or touched

A-not-B error

occurs when infants make the mistake of selecting the familiar hiding place A rather than the new hiding place B as they progress into substage 4 in Piaget's sensorimotor stage

core knowledge approach

view that infants are born with domain-specific innate knowledge systems


focusing of mental resources on select information

joint attention

occurs when individuals focus on the same object or event, and an ability to track another's behavior is present; one individual directs another's attention, and reciprocal interaction is present


central feature of cognitive development, involving the retention of information over time


process by which information gets into memory

implicit memory

memory without conscious recollection; involves skills and routine procedures that are automatically performed

explicit memory

conscious memory of facts and experiences

deferred imitation

imitation that occurs after a delay of hours or days


group objects, events, and characteristics on the basis of common properties


ideas about what categories represent

developmental quotient

an overall score that combines subscores in motor, language, adaptive, and personal-social domains in the Gesell assessment of infants

Bayley Scales of Infant Development

scales developed by Nancy Bayley that are widely used in the assessment of infant development; the current version has five components (cognitive scale, language scale, motor scale, socio-emotional scale, and an adaptive scale)


a form of communication, whether spoken, written, or signed, that is based on a system of symbols

infinite generativity

ability to produce an endless number of meaningful sentences using a finite set of words and rules


sound system of the language, including the sounds that are used and how they may be combined


units of meaning involved in word formation


the ways words are combined to form acceptable phrases and sentences


the meaning of words and sentences


the appropriate use of language in different contexts


tendency to apply a word to objects that are inappropriate for the word's meaning


tendency to apply a word too narrowly; it occurs when children fail to use a word to name a relevant event or object

telegraphic speech

the use of content words without grammatical markers such as articles, auxiliary verbs, and other connectives

Broca's area

an area in the brain's left frontal lobe involved in speech formation

Wernicke's area

an area of the brain's left hemisphere that is involved in language comprehension


loss or impairment of language processing cause by brain damage in Broca's area or Wernicke's area

language acquisition device

Chomsky's term that describes a biological endowment that enables the child to detect the features and rules of language, including phonology, syntax, and semantics

child-directed speech

language spoken in a higher pitch that normal with simple words and sentences


rephrasing something that the child has said, perhaps turning it into a question or restating the child's immature utterance in the form of a fully grammatical structure


restating what a child has said in a linguistically sophisticated form


identifying the names of objects

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