Lecture 4
Developmental Psychology

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Remember: 1st exam is October 7th and will start at 6:10.  It is an hour and a half long.  A short lecture will follow.

1.  The developing nervous system

1.1. Organization of the mature brain

  • neuron
  • cell body
  • dendrite
  • axon
  • myelin
  • terminal buttons
  • neurotransmitters
  • synapses
  • synaptic pruning

1.2. Emerging brain structures

1.2.1. The neural plate

1.2.2. The cerebral cortex

  • hemispheres
  • lateralization
  • brain plasticity

2. Motor Development

  • cephalocaudal trend
  • proximodistal trend


  • dynamic systems theory

2.2. Fine motor development

  • prereaching
  • ulnar grasp
  • pincer grasp

3. Approaches to perceptual development

3.1 The Empirical approach

Sensory experience is the foundation of all perception and, ultimately, all knowledge.

Muller-Lyer illusion

  • carpentered world theory
  • front-horizontal foreshortening theory
  • symbolizing three dimensions in two theory

3.2 The cognitive approach

Not only does sensory experience influence perception and understanding, but understanding also influences sensory and perceptual processing.

3.3 Gibson's Differentiation theory

Complex information can be perceived directly, if you know what to look for.

4. Basic sensory and perceptual processes

4.1 Touch, Taste and Smell

4.1.1 Touch

4.1.2 Taste

4.1.3 Smell

4.2 Hearing

  • auditory threshold

4.3 Vision

  • visual acuity

4.4 Integrating sensory information

5. Complex Perceptual & Attentional Processes

5.1 Perceiving Objects

  • perceptual constancies
  • visual cliff
  • retinal disparity

5.2 Attention

  • orienting response

5.3 Attention Deficit Disorder 

Diagnostic criteria 1:

Six (or more) of the following symptoms of inattention have persisted for at least 6 months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with developmental level:
a. careless mistakes
b. difficulty sustaining attention
c. does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
d. does not follow through on instructions
e. often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
f. often avoids sustained mental effort
g. often loses things necessary for tasks
h. often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli
i. is often forgetful in daily activities

Diagnostic criteria 2:

Six (or more) of the following symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity have persisted for at least 6 months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with developmental level:


a. often fidgets or squirms in seat
b. often leaves seat
c. often runs about or climbs excessively
d. often has difficulty playing quietly
e. is often "on the go"
f. often talks excessively

g. often blurts out answers before questions have been completed
h. often has difficulty awaiting turn
i. often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games)

Differential Diagnoses

  • Age-appropriate behaviours in active children
  • Mental Retardation
  • under stimulating environments
  • oppositional behaviour
  • another mental disorder
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder
  • Psychotic Disorder
  • Other Substance-Related Disorder Not Otherwise Specified


  • NOT Poor parenting
  • NOT Too much TV
  • NOT Excessive sugar
  • NOT allergies
  • NOT brain injuries
  • biological difference in neurotransmitters
  • heredity