Facts on a Child’s Developing Brain
1. During early pregnancy, neurons develop at a rate of 250,000 neurons a minute.
2. The first sense to develop in utero is the sense of touch.
3. 60% of a baby’s energy goes into brain development.
4. Holding and cuddling an infant causes their brain to release important hormones which stimulates their growth.
5. Providing a young child with a rich and stimulating environment can significantly increase IQ.
6. Spending “playtime” with a child (talking, singing, reading and playing with them) is the best way to stimulate brain development.
7. Learning a musical instrument boosts brain development in children.
8. Reading aloud and talking to young children promotes their brain development.
9. Basic emotions are present at birth (joy, happiness, shyness, fear). However, the way these develop depends on the type of nurturing the child receives.
10. Being raised by sensitive caregivers enables a child to handle stress better – and this continues into their adult life.
11. The cerebral cortex grows thicker the more we use it (in both childhood and adulthood).
12. Children who are bilingual before the age of five have denser grey matter in their brain.
- Developmental Psychology: Studies physical, cognitive, and social change throughout the life span.
- Attachment: an emotional tie with another person
- According to Bowlby and Ainsworth, children develop an attachment style to their primary caregiver early in development.
- Secure Attachment: A strong attachment; the infant is distressed by the mother’s absence and immediately seeks contact with her when she returns (70% of infants)
- Avoidant Attachment: The infant does not seek contact with the mother, and shows little distress when separated from her. The infant avoids contact upon her return. (20% of infants)
- Ambivalent/Resistant Attachment: Insecure in the mother’s presence, becomes very distressed when she leaves, and resists contact upon her return (10% of infants)
- Authoritarian Parents: impose rules and expect obedience.
- Permissive Parents: Submit to their children’s desires, make few demands, and use little punishment
- Authoritative Parents: both demanding and responsive. They exert control not only by settling rules and enforcing them but also by explaining the reasons and encourage open discussion.
- Children with highest self-esteem, self-reliance, and social competence usually have warm, concerned, authoritative parents.
- Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development
- Trust vs. Mistrust: Infancy (up to 1 year)
- Autonomy vs.Shame and Doubt: Toddlerhood (1 to 2 years)
- Initiative vs Guilt: Preschooler (3 to 5 years)
- Competence vs Inferiority: Elementary School (6 years to puberty)
- Identity vs Role Confusion: Adolescence (teen years into 20s)
- Intimacy vs Isolation: Young Adulthood (20s to early 40s)
- Generativity vs Stagnation: Middle Adulthood (40s to 60s)
- Integrity vs Despair: Late Adulthood (late 60s and up)
- Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development
- Sensorimotor Stage: Experiencing the world through senses and actions; birth to nearly 2 years
- Preoperational Stage: Representing things with words and images; use intuitive rather than logical reasoning; do not understand the notion of conservation; 2 to about 6 or 7 years
- Concrete Operational Stage: Thinking logically about concrete events; grasping concrete analogies and performing arithmetic operations.
- Formal Operational Stage: Abstract Reasoning; about 12 through adulthood
- Assimilation: Interpreting one’s new experiences in term of one’s existing schemas
- Accommodation: adapting one’s new current understanding (schema) to incorporate new info
- Artificialism: the tendency to consider that physical objects and events were created by people
- Animalistic: The tendency to endow physical objects and events with psychological qualities
- Kohlberg’s Levels of Moral Thinking
- Preconventional Morality: Before age 9, most children have a preconventional morality of self-interest. They obey either to avoid punishment or to gain concrete rewards.
- Conventional Morality: By early adolescence, morality usually evolves to a more conventional level that cares for other and upholds laws and social rules s imply because they are the laws and codes.
- Postconventional Morality: some of those who develop the abstract reasoning of formal operational thought may come to a third level. Postconventional morality affirms people’s agreed-upon rights or follows what one personality perceives as basic ethical principles.
- Fluid Intelligence: One’s ability to reason speedily and abstractly; tends to decrease during late adulthood
- Crystallized Intelligence: One’s accumulated knowledge and verbal skills; tends to increase with age.
A clip in Developmental Psych about an adopted son with Down syndrome:
- Mom: You know how when you get really excited over something, you make that noise?
- Otto: Yes.
- Mom: What noise do you make?
- Otto: Mmmmmmmmmmm.
- Mom: Yeah, have you seen anyone else make that noise before?
- Otto: No..
- Mom: That's because it's from your Down syndrome.
- Otto: Oh..
- Mom: So if I was on your bus and I started going mmmMMMmmmMmmmm, what would you think?
- Otto: That's fucking weird!
- (some parts are paraphrased since I don't have perfect memory lol)
Ancient Movie Killer Uncovering Nate Silver Tricks
Tricks Foods Play by Janet Raloff (ScienceNews): A calorie is not a calorie, it seems. After all, a crucial part of why you eat is the conscious feeling of hunger. And depending on what you eat, that feeling of hunger can be manipulated by different foods. It seems that linoleic acid, a major constituent of soybean oil (but less so in canola oil and olive oil) is particularly good at doing this and may be a big part of the US obesity problem. In contrast, that sensation of sweetness you feel when you drink a diet coke? Your gut gets information about that sensation from your mouth, and when the diet coke gets there and there’s no calories in it, the gut feels ripped off, and tells your brain not to trust sweetness. Which means you consume more.
Why Your Four-Year-Old Is As Smart As Nate Silver by Alison Gopnik (Slate): Turns out that part of why infants are so good at learning stuff is that they seem to use the same Bayesian modelling that Nate Silver’s fancy models basically use. Oddly enough, I remember paying attention to the 1993 election in Australia as an 11-year-old, when Keating beat Hewson, and it seeming very obvious to me that Keating was going to win, though the news reporters were making it seem like it would be a very close call. But I don’t think I have that ability to tell who’ll win now - I have too many horses in the race in a way that I didn’t when I was 11.
The Truck Stop Killer by Vanessa Veselka (GQ): Veselka was a teenage runaway, and once had a scary experience where a trucker she was hitch-hiking with pulled a knife on her and told her about the Laughing Death society. Eventually she ran from the truck and quite possibly saved her life. Years later, she wonders, ‘who was that man?’ Was it actually Robert Ben Rhoades, the serial killer? How much can she trust her memories?
Much Ado About Acting by Jessica Love (American Scholar): Actors do something amazing, really - they remember vast swathes of dialogue. I mean, I have trouble remembering phone numbers, so that’s pretty good, right! So how do they do it? Mostly by context and motivation and not trying too hard, apparently.
Uncovering The Truth Behind The Myth Of Pancho Villa, Movie Star by Mike Dash (Past Imperfect): One movie star who didn’t have dialogue to remember was Pancho Villa, one of the main figures in the Mexican civil war. Back in the day, the Hollywood film industry was producing newsreels, and legend has it that they paid Villa so he would conduct his battles during the day when there was better lighting for the cameras. So was that true, Dash asks? (Well, sort of…)
Ancient Fears: The Return Of The Flood Saga by Avi Sternberg (The New Yorker): It’s probably the most typical New Yorker article ever; inspired by the flooding of bits of New York, they look at the old myths of flooding (and no, the Noah one in the Old Testament wasn’t the oldest). What did they represent and what did they mean? (I’m very partial, personally, to the idea that the flood myths are a memory of end of the last Ice Age. I mean, 10000 years ago most of the area between Britain and Scandinavia was above water. There must be many memories around the world of the seasides where people lived being flooded, and people needing to go to higher ground).
erik erikson's theory of psychological development
- trust v. mistrust
- birth to age 1
- crucial role played by mother: inconsistency/rejection leads to mistrust; warmth/acceptance results in trust and the “inner certainty” that the world is reliable and predictable
- if we learn to mistrust adults in infancy, we can later change when we meet adults who encourage trust. likewise, sense of trust can be lost.
ex: an orphaned child who keeps jumping from foster home to foster home will likely develop feelings of mistrust and avoid becoming emotionally involved with other people. however, that very same orphan might become more trustful if they meet a teacher who cares for them and is consistently there for them.
- autonomy v. doubt
- ages 1 to 3
- children develop new physical and mental skills, and are proud of their accomplishments and insist on doing everything themselves
- parents who accept the child’s need to control his/her body/impulses/immediate environment foster a sense of autonomy and help the child prepare for independence later in life
- parents who insist on being overly controlling/critical foster a sense of doubt/lack of confidence
- initiative v. guilt
- ages 3 to 6
- child can initiate play activities instead of just follow other children
- children play pretend, imaging themselves in a number of adult roles
- begin asking many questions - intellectual initiative
- parents who encourage this will enhance the child’s sense of initiative ; parents who make the child feel like these activities are bad or wrong will instill in the child a sense of guilt about self-initiated activities - will later be detrimental in life
- industry v. inferiority
- ages 6-12
- children begin school and are exposed to formal/impersonal rules
- demonstrate industry: build model planes, build tree houses, complete school projects
- if adults praise the child’s creative projects, sense of industry will be reinforced
- if adults scold the child for making a mess or if the child gets low grades for their projects, they can instill a lasting sense of inferiority
- identity v. role confusion
- physical maturation and capability for abstract thought
- no longer children, but not yet adults, children struggle to create for themselves a meaningful sense of identity
- culture plays a large role in influencing selection of identity
- intimacy v. isolation
- early adulthood
- young adults search for a partner to care about and share their lives with
- those who feel threatened by an intimate relationship will avoid intimacy for fear of being ‘swallowed up.’
- a person unable to maintain a meaningful relationship with others can become lonely/isolated
- generativity v. self-absorption
- middle adulthood
- family and work become important social settings
- generativity: concern in establishing and guiding the next generation
* if this fails, individual can stagnate and become absorbed with material possessions and personal problems (mid-life crisis)
- integrity v. despair
- late adulthood
- coming to terms with dying
- evaluation/reflection time
- if a person feels their life has been successful, they will feel a sense of self-acceptance Erikson calls ‘integrity.’
- if a person feels their life was just a whole sequence of missed opportunities and might-have-beens, they will probably give into despair.
Diana Baumrind identified 3 distinct styles of parenting:
- few rules
- minimal demands
- allow children to reach own decisions
- children tend to be immature, impulsive, and often fail to respect others
- firm rules
- reasonable demands
- listen to child’s viewpoint, but still insist on responsible behaviour
- children tend to be well-adjusted, goal oriented, and socially competent
- strict rules
- enforce strict punishments
- rarely listen to child’s viewpoint
- children tend to be moody, aggressive, and lacking in good communication skills
The pragmatics of social media
I took a developmental psychology course this year. And while learning about child development for ten weeks served as a concrete reminder that I never want anything coming out of my womb, I did really enjoy learning about how our social patterns take shape. Since I’ve been analyzing WDET’s Facebook pages for the past couple weeks, I’ve noticed a lot of similarities between the early stages of pragmatic development and the early stages of social media journalism. Here are a few factors that are important to growing into socially healthy adult and being an engaging and interactive news source:
1) Understanding verbal routines. The thing that I’ve found most interesting about doing Facebook analysis is how routine our social media interactions actually are. If you’re an avid social media user, you may think that you engage with your mediums of communication in a lot of different ways, but chances are you don’t, particularly with pages. If you’re a commenter, you comment. If you’re a liker, you like. There isn’t a huge amount of overlap between the two.
Dahomey's Green Folly Sources Accidental Children
Martin Luther’s Accidental Revolution by Keenan Malik (Pandaemonium): Martin Luther was a strange kind of character, not really a revolutionary; when he nailed his 95 theses to the church door, he kind of knew he was asking for trouble, but he didn’t quite expect to start a revolution. At the same time, he was very conservative religiously (if not traditionalist), believing that we have no free will (e.g., that he literally had no choice but to nail the theses to the door) and that there was no place for reason in religion. So when he said that “if you respect and follow the judgement of human reason, you are bound to say either that there is no God or that God is unjust”, he thought we should not follow the judgement of human reason. [via]
Human Folly by Matthew Adams (New Humanist): Erasmus was a Dutch contemporary of Martin Luther who wrote a strange, genre-bending book called In Praise Of Folly, which was a hugely controversial book, poking fun at sacred cows during a time when sacred cows carried swords. This included a sort-of sarcastic Christopher Hitchens-esque volley against religion, which Erasmus later in the book shows to be folly. But which proved to be quite influential; once the seed of doubt is planted, it’s only a few years until you get Enlightenment, apparently. [via]
Children In The Roman Empire by Peter Thonemann (The Times Literary Supplement): The Ancient Roman poet Statius talks in rapturous terms about a newborn infant he is behold, full of wonder that the child was playing with his face. A new father? Nope - this is a slave that belongs to him, the child of two of his other slaves. And…later in life (but not that much later), the same child will probably be an erotic plaything for Statius (as well as a beloved child), and this was completely normal to the Romans. So, being a child in the Roman Empire could really be exceptionally weird. [via]
Dahomey’s Women Warriors by Mike Dash (Past Imperfect/Smithsonian): Modern day Benin used to be called Dahomey; and the kingdom of Dahomey’s army, when the French invaded in the late 19th century, was largely made up of women. And these women were renowned for their fierceness in battle, for fighting as well as any man. Unfortunately, you can fight fiercely all you want, but the French had modern weapons and the Dahomey women didn’t. But some of the warriors survived until surprisingly late into the 20th century.
Sources Of Illumination by Miri Rubin (Times Higher Education): Universities are only 800-900 years old; starting first in France and Italy and spreading quickly to the UK. And they were originally started in order to train the bureaucracies of the power systems that existed at the time (the states and churches); and so there was a focus on Latin and how to implement law. Once upon a time, the Bachelor of Arts meant that you had the gold standard of training, as far as literacy and ability to administer bureaucratic stuff went. [via]
Green Gold by Jack Turner (New Yorker): There was a craze in France, in particular, in the late 19th century for the drink absinthe; in the end absinthe was banned because it was thought to contain a psychoactive substance - wormwood - which sent men mad. And so Turner follows a group of men trying to resuscitate the art of making absinthe, using vintage distillery equipment and working out the subtleties of the old recipes that have been handed down.