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Infant Perceptual Development (Thesis Sample)


a description of the infant perpetual development and the process of cognitive development in infants.


Infant Perceptual Development
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Infant Perceptual Development
The birth of a child marks the beginning of a long developmental journey in which he/she develops to familiarize with the surrounding. Perception is a natural process in both man and animals and involves the organization and interpretation of sensory information. This process is multimodal that uses a large number of sensory inputs, which results into the motor responses. Perceptual development is one of the processes covered under a child’s cognitive development. Through perceptual development, a newborn human learns how to make interpretation an understanding of stimuli from the immediate environment. This process develops progressively from the first year of birth all through an infant’s development stages (Johnson & Mareschal, 2001).
Perceptual development as a whole is highly connected to the development of child’s motor system. These results into situations where a child learn to make certain responses to external stimuli. For example, infants learn to respond to sound by turning their head around in order to make eye contact with the stimuli source. During advanced stages of perceptual development, a child learns to crawl and walk due to the advanced development of the motor system. Crawling and walking allow an infant to develop more knowledge on the immediate environment and develop responses to such. Immediately after birth, the senses of a child are differentially developed. A newborn child lacks proper visual discerning of objects. This improves within a short time resulting into a more developed the ability to differentiate faces and colors (Berk, 2006).
Stages of infant perceptual development
The development of perceptual abilities in infants occurs in stages, a continuation of the sensory development during gestation. A child is born with different levels of ability to interact with the environment. However, this changes as the child’s cognitive development progress over time. Infant perceptual development is divided into different stages and regions depending on the part of the child that grows and the stage of development of this part at birth. In this section, I will highlight some of the stages of perceptual development in infants from the first day of birth all through to maturation (Johnson & Mareschal, 2001).
Visual perception development
A new born has poorly developed visual abilities with improper abilities to discern different objects. However, this improves over time as the child’s cognitive development occurs. The visual acuity of a newborn is estimated to be over 30 times poorer that is in normal adults. A developed human can discern an object of 1 arcmin while an infant can only be able to differentiate an object of 30 arcmin. The human eye lens is highly adjustable depending on the eye development, a process which lacks in infants (Slater, 1998).
Newborn babies have the ability to see certain colors at birth. However, at around 3-4 months, a child can accurately recognize primary colors as compared to other complementary colors. The visual process in newborns is best done from a peripheral angle and in dimmer lights. Psychologists doing research on perceptual development of infants have identified that newborn babies have a preference to faces as compared to objects. This explains the ability of a child to recognize the face of the mother a few hours from birth, an event that scientists have proved to be true. The progressive visual development of infants has been used in the identification of defects and immediate corrections. Some of defects identified by psychologists through perpetual development studies include strabismus and cataracts (Berk, 2006).
Touch perception development
Through touch, a baby develops approaches of interacting with the parents and developing emotions towards them. Through touch, a child’s early physical growth is initiated, and this also assists in emotional development of the child. Sensitivity to touch is categorized as one of the most developed perceptional phases in an infant. The mouth, palm, genitals and sole areas develop sensitivity to touch before a child is born. This explains the high sensitivity of children to pain which is manifested in infant males who have been circumcised. Research has established that pleasurable touch increases the sensitivity of a child to the environmental stimuli (Johnson & Mareschal, 2001).
This explains the familiarity between the infant and an adult who caresses his/her face to smile. Through investigative touch, infants develop habitual sensitivity to certain objects, which increases their exploration of the world. The mouth of a newborn has high sensitivity, and this explains the mouth exploration nature of infants less than a year old. As witnessed in adulthood, infant girls are more sensitive to touch as compared to the boys. Psychologists have established that an infant deprived of touch becomes stunted in major aspects of growth. This include emotionally, physically, cognitively and also the ability of the infant to initiate an immune response (Slater, 1998).
Taste and smell cognitive development
Immediately after birth, a child demonstrates the ability to differentiate bitter tasting and sweet tasting medication. This is shown by the facial reflexes that an infant produce when given a sweet tasting and a bitter tasting medication. The ability of an infant to differentiate bitter and sweet tasting substances is an essential survival process. A child advances his/her preferences at around the 4th month and start developed reception to the salty taste. This is done in preparation for solid foods that a child is exposed to after 6 months (Berk, 2006).
Different smells produce different responses from the infant immediately after birth. When an infant is exposed to the smell of a banana or chocolate, they show pleasant facial expression. The expression changes when the same child is exposed to the smell of rotten eggs. The early development of a child’s smell perception can be explained to the content of the amniotic fluid. The smell of the amniotic fluid is influenced by the diet of the mother, and this develops the smell senses of the embryo. The development of the smell cognitive senses in infants has been proved to be survival development. This was demonstrated by an investigation conducted by newborns from different mothers. Pairs of infants were exposed to different amniotic fluids to show if they could show smell familiarity. The infants showed preferences to their mother’s amnion as opposed to others. This demonstrated the role played by the amniotic fluid in developing the smell perception of children (Johnson & Mareschal, 2001).
Balance development
The development of proper balance in infants is essential in the familiarization with the immediate environment. Infants learn how to adjust their bodies to develop steady movements. These movements have been established to be essential in the development of an infant that it is coordinated by the sensory information signal. The changes in body postures in infants are supported by three sensory signals. The first signal arises from sensation of a child’s ski, joints and muscles and is known as the proprioceptive stimulation. The circular canals in the ear also produce vestibular stimulation while the movements within the infant visual fields produce optical flow simulations (Slater, 1998).
Optical flow stimulation has been shown to assist children adopt their head positions. The process of body balancing in infants progresses with the improvement of motor control systems. Through this process, a child develops proper sitting and coordination at 5 months without being supported. Like matured adult beings, infants balance coordination occurs subconsciously. This leaves room for their attention to be focused on exploring and discovering the immediate surroundings (Johnson & Mareschal, 2001).
Development of hearing and sound perception
The hearing ability of an infant remains the most advanced sense at childbirth as compared to the other perceptual areas. At the beginning of the last trimester, an embryo develops stronger ability to hear the voice of the mother and those close to her. These senses develop immediately after birth and advances as the infant is exposed to more complex sound. Infants have preferences of complex noise at birth as compared to more organized and pure noises. The 4th to the 7th month of infant development is characterized by their ability to recognize musical noise. Within the first year, a child’s ability to organize noise into elaborate patterns increases. The ability to recognize sound is essential in the explorative advances of an infant (Slater, 1998).
A major aspect of hearing in infants is their ability to develop sound reception and differentiation abilities. Immediately after birth, a child makes distinctive differentiation of different sounds. Speech sounds such as ‘ba’, ‘ga’ and ‘na’ becomes easily recognized by the infant after a very short while. At the end of the first year, a child begins to recognize the organization of sounds and word patterns in their native language. This is made possible due to their ability to pay attention to the important sound variations in the language (Berk, 2006).
Factors affecting perceptual development in infants
Infant perceptual development is influenced by a number of factors which affects an infant’s proper development. As a stimuli dependent exercise, the availability of quality stimuli influences the ability of a child to develop proper cognitive abilities. As stated earlier, infants who are deprived of touch end up developing different complications wit...
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