Cognitive development is the process by which human beings acquire knowledge through learning and experience. Cognitive development is related to knowledge: it is the process by which we learn to use memory, language, perception, problem-solving, and planning, for example. It involves sophisticated and unique functions in each human being and is learned through learning and experience. In this article we will explain the Cognition and Language Development.
This development process is due to something innate in the human being: the need to relate and be part of society. It is linked to the natural ability of human beings to adapt and integrate into their environment and is not linked to intelligence or IQ, but is a factor inherent to personality. Often there are cognitive biases, a distortion that affects the way a person captures the real. At a general level, we speak of cognitive distortions when errors or failures in the processing of information are noticed.
Cognitive learning has had numerous recognized authors who have added new knowledge to this process: Piaget is the best known but Tolman, Gestalt, and Bandura also stand out. All these authors agree that the process in which information enters the cognitive system is processed and causes a certain reaction in each person, that is, the same signal can be processed by each individual in a different way.
The stages of cognitive development
In his studies, Piaget noted that there are periods or stages of development. In some assimilation prevails, in other accommodations. In this way, he defined a sequence of four “epistemological” stages (currently called: cognitive) very well defined in humans.
From birth to about a year and a half to two years. In such a state the child uses his senses (which are in full development) and motor skills to know what surrounds him, initially relying on his reflexes and, later, on the combination of his sensory and motor capacities. Thus, he prepares himself to later be able to think with images and concepts.
Primary circular reactions
They happen in the first two months of extrauterine life. At that moment the human develops primary circular reactions, that is: he reiterates casual actions that have caused him pleasure. A typical example is the sucking of one’s own finger, a substitute reaction for the sucking of the nipple, although the reflex of sucking one’s own finger already exists in intrauterine life.
Secondary circular reactions
Between the fourth month and the year of life, the infant orients his behavior towards the external environment seeking to learn or move objects and already observes the results of his actions to reproduce such sound and obtain again the gratification that it provokes.
Tertiary circular reactions
They occur between 12 and 18 months of life. They consist of the same process described above, although with important variations. For example, the infant takes an object and touches various surfaces. It is at this moment that the infant begins to have a notion of the permanence of objects, before this moment, if the object is not directly stimulating his senses, for him, literally, the object “does not exist”.
After 18 months, the child’s brain is potentially able to imagine the simple effects of the actions it is performing, or it can already make a rudimentary description of some deferred actions or objects that are not present but that it has perceived. He is also able to carry out sequences of actions such as using an object to open a door. In addition, the first symbolic games of the type let’s play that …
The preoperative stage is the second of the four states. It follows the sensorimotor state and occurs between approximately 2 and 7 years of age.
This stage is characterized by the internalization of the reactions of the previous stage, giving rise to mental actions that are not yet categorized as operations due to their vagueness, inadequacy and/or lack of reversibility.
Characteristic processes of this stage are: symbolic play, centering, intuition, animism, egocentrism, juxtaposition, and reversibility (inability to preserve properties).
Stage of concrete operations
From 7 to 11 years old. When we talk about operations here, reference is made to the logical operations used for troubleshooting. The child in this phase or stage no longer only uses the symbol, he is able to use the symbols in a logical way and, through the ability to conserve, arrive at correct generalizations.
Around 6/7 years the child acquires the intellectual capacity to conserve numerical quantities: lengths and liquid volumes. Hereby conservation is meant the ability to understand that the quantity remains the same even though its form is varied. Before, in the preoperative stage, for example, the child has been convinced that the quantity of a liter of water contained in a tall and long bottle is greater than that of the same liter of water transferred to a low and wide bottle (here there is a contact with Gestalt theory). On the other hand, a child who has entered the stage of concrete operations is intellectually capable of understanding that the quantity is the same (for example, a liter of water) in containers of many different forms.
Around 7/8 years the child develops the ability to conserve materials. For example: taking a ball of clay and manipulating it to make several balls, the child is already aware that by putting all the balls together, the amount of clay will be practically the original ball. The capacity just mentioned is called reversibility.
Around the age of 9/10, the child has accessed the last step in the notion of conservation: the conservation of surfaces. For example, put in front of squares of paper you can realize that they meet the same surface even if those squares are piled up or even if they are scattered.
Stage of formal operations
From 12 onwards (all adult life).
The subject who is in the stage of concrete operations has difficulty in applying his capacities to abstract situations. If a (sensible) adult tells him “don’t make fun of x because he’s fat … what would you say if it happened to you?”, The subject‘s response at the stage of only concrete operations would be: I am not fat. It is from 12 years onwards when the human brain is potentially capable (from the expression of genes), to formulate really abstract thoughts or a hypothetical deductive type of thinking.