• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How has the use of new research methods contributed to a greater understanding of the development of infants perceptual abilities during the first 18 months of life?

Extracts from this document...


How has the use of new research methods contributed to a greater understanding of the development of infants' perceptual abilities during the first 18 months of life? Perception is the experience of our environment gathered via our sensory organs. Effective navigation of these experiences requires the ability, not only to recognise, but also to act upon sensory stimuli, as it is through this process that we come to interpret the nature of our environment. As a basis for the acquisition of knowledge, understanding what and how we perceive can provide insight into developmental progress and a comprehensive understanding of human limitations and developmental milestones. Influencing scientific research are the theoretical perspectives of nativism and empiricism. Do we learn to perceive through direct experience with our surroundings as an empiricist believes, or is the nativist position that we have innate perceptual capabilities correct? Increasingly, the amassed evidence suggests that neither position is entirely accurate in of itself and a more authentic view posits that infants are born with some rudimentary knowledge which experience then refines and enhances. This essay aims to evaluate a small contribution of the research available, primarily visual and auditory studies. Individually, the separate perceptive senses of vision and hearing have been extensively studied, however in reality total perception is rarely the product of one sensory organ in isolation. ...read more.


Although the question of innateness is asked, the evidence cannot show this as subjects were already six months old. By this age, a baby's experience of heights from being carried would in all probability be quite pronounced and depth perception at this point could very well be learnt. Gibson noted that depth perception is limited by loco motor function as some less experienced crawlers backed over the edge in their attempt to reach their mothers and similar studies by Campos et al. (1992) found that new crawlers were happy to cross the cliff whereas experienced crawlers almost always would not. This suggests that there is a learning process that takes place. As crawling ability improves a more accurate understanding of the visual cues can be processed. Vital for language comprehension and therefore communication, auditory ability in infants has also been extensively studied but as orientation of the ears towards the stimulus is not essential for hearing, observation of the sensory organ alone cannot provide any evidence of ability. Infants do however turn their heads towards sound and this skill is demonstrated soon after birth. This behavioural response was used by Fernald (1985) on infants of 4 months old who were exposed to recordings of normal voices versus recordings of 'motherese'. Motherese is the definition given to the type of speech adults typically use when communicating with babies. ...read more.


The results concluded that infants can learn sight-sound pairings and that they expect them to remain co-located. In a later study by Slater et al., (1999) non contingent and contingent experimental situations were created where the auditory stimulus was presented regardless of visual attention or contingent on subject visual interest. The results showed that babies learned the sight - sound pairings in the contingent setting and it is the presence of contingent information that governs learning of arbitrary audio-visual combinations. These types of studies that examine perception from a more holistic approach bring up some interesting questions. If baby's perceptual learning is improved in a cross-modal situation, what other perceptive senses are linked and is there anything more to learn from individual sense studies alone? That research has aided the understanding of perceptual development is evident. However limited, experiments into individual sensory areas have changed opinion on the perceptive functionality of an infant at birth and proved a capacity greater than some theorists might have earlier believed. Importantly, it would appear that the functioning is improved greatly if the studies utilise stimuli that are similar to an everyday experience for an infant. To the extent that these abilities are innate or learnt is not absolute from the studies investigated here but the evidence points towards the conclusion that some areas of perception are learnt and some innate, with the innate preparedness being easier to deduce from ecologically valid experiments with socially familiar stimuli. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Developmental Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Developmental Psychology essays

  1. Compare, Contrast and Evaluate the Nativist and Empiricist Views of Infant Perception

    It was found that a longer time was spent looking at the novel stimulus, which implies that the newborns' were able to discriminate between the old and new stimuli. This evidence can be seen as supporting the nativist perspective of infant perception.

  2. A small scale investigation into children's understanding of scientific concepts.

    both children gave an equal number of correct answers suggesting that age was not a major factor. Table 4 demonstrates that 60% of the children's errors were on the same objects. A possible explanation for this would be the unusual features of the items which may of caused confusion.

  1. A2 perceptual thoeries

    Many people would agree with this since perception seems so effortless and easy and is not taught or learned.

  2. This curriculum plan is to be based on children aged between nought to two ...

    Pretenders (24-36 months), where children are becoming more confident and are moving, talking and pretending more. The younger children will normally be at the stage Movers, shakers and players (18-24 months) show increasing independence and obvious pleasure in moving, communicating and learning through play.

  1. Psychology Cae Studies

    Serious counselling of both parties was not done after the experiment was completed. Social Implications Please remember the mirror and the projector. What does the experiment/study tell us about society? (Mirror). What has the experiment/study taught us that can be applied to society?

  2. Attachment and Bonding

    (Gross, 2005) It was discovered that mothers of insecurely attached children tend to be less responsive to the child and cuddle them less; this view supports the idea that responsiveness is important in the development of secure attachments. (Jarvis et al,2001)

  1. Key features of infants first relationships giving the importance of each of these features ...

    However, for this meshing to be able to take place there has to be an opportunity for it to happen. Research has shown that all human infants feed in a unique rhythm, which is apparent from birth. They suck for a while, pause for a few seconds then resume sucking.

  2. To provide age/ability appropriate activities/experiences that will encourage the development of knowledge and understanding ...

    to observe, analyse and same improvements when necessary. Good planning also counts as a form of record keeping and can be used to show parents and carers how their child is developing throughout. These records would imitate to parents/cares their child's physical, intellectual, language emotional, social, moral and spiritual needs and further development through the curriculum.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work