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Cognitive development

Because we spend so many years in adulthood (more than any other stage), cognitive changes are numerous. In fact, research suggests that adult cognitive development is a complex, ever changing process that may be even more active than cognitive development in infancy and early childhood (Fischer, Yan,&Stewart, 2003).

Unlike our physical abilities, which peak in our mid-20s and then begin a slow decline, our cognitive abilities remain steady throughout early and middle adulthood. Our crystalized intelligence (information, skills, and strategies we have gathered through a lifetime of experience) tends to hold steady as we age—it may even improve. For example, adults show relatively stable to increasing scores on intelligence tests until their mid-30s to mid-50s (Bayley&Oden, 1955). However, in late adulthood we begin to experience a decline in another area of our cognitive abilities—fluid intelligence (information processing abilities, reasoning, and memory). These processes become slower. How can we delay the onset of cognitive decline? Mental and physical activity seems to play a part ( [link] ). Research has found adults who engage in mentally and physically stimulating activities experience less cognitive decline and have a reduced incidence of mild cognitive impairment and dementia (Hertzog, Kramer, Wilson,&Lindenberger, 2009; Larson et al., 2006; Podewils et al., 2005).

A picture shows three people at a table leaning over a board game.
Cognitive activities such as playing mahjong, chess, or other games, can keep you mentally fit. The same is true for solo pastimes like reading and completing crossword puzzles. (credit: Philippe Put)

Psychosocial development

There are many theories about the social and emotional aspects of aging. Some aspects of healthy aging include activities, social connectedness, and the role of a person’s culture. According to many theorists, including George Vaillant (2002), who studied and analyzed over 50 years of data, we need to have and continue to find meaning throughout our lives. For those in early and middle adulthood, meaning is found through work (Sterns&Huyck, 2001) and family life (Markus, Ryff, Curan,&Palmersheim, 2004). These areas relate to the tasks that Erikson referred to as generativity and intimacy. As mentioned previously, adults tend to define themselves by what they do—their careers. Earnings peak during this time, yet job satisfaction is more closely tied to work that involves contact with other people, is interesting, provides opportunities for advancement, and allows some independence (Mohr&Zoghi, 2006) than it is to salary (Iyengar, Wells,&Schwartz, 2006). How might being unemployed or being in a dead-end job challenge adult well-being?

Positive relationships with significant others in our adult years have been found to contribute to a state of well-being (Ryff&Singer, 2009). Most adults in the United States identify themselves through their relationships with family—particularly with spouses, children, and parents (Markus et al., 2004). While raising children can be stressful, especially when they are young, research suggests that parents reap the rewards down the road, as adult children tend to have a positive effect on parental well-being (Umberson, Pudrovska,&Reczek, 2010). Having a stable marriage has also been found to contribute to well-being throughout adulthood (Vaillant, 2002).

Another aspect of positive aging is believed to be social connectedness and social support. As we get older, socioemotional selectivity theory    suggests that our social support and friendships dwindle in number, but remain as close, if not more close than in our earlier years (Carstensen, 1992) ( [link] ).

Four people are sitting on a bench looking off in the same direction.
Social support is important as we age. (credit: Gabriel Rocha)

Summary

At conception the egg and sperm cell are united to form a zygote, which will begin to divide rapidly. This marks the beginning of the first stage of prenatal development (germinal stage), which lasts about two weeks. Then the zygote implants itself into the lining of the woman’s uterus, marking the beginning of the second stage of prenatal development (embryonic stage), which lasts about six weeks. The embryo begins to develop body and organ structures, and the neural tube forms, which will later become the brain and spinal cord. The third phase of prenatal development (fetal stage) begins at 9 weeks and lasts until birth. The body, brain, and organs grow rapidly during this stage. During all stages of pregnancy it is important that the mother receive prenatal care to reduce health risks to herself and to her developing baby.

Newborn infants weigh about 7.5 pounds. Doctors assess a newborn’s reflexes, such as the sucking, rooting, and Moro reflexes. Our physical, cognitive, and psychosocial skills grow and change as we move through developmental stages from infancy through late adulthood. Attachment in infancy is a critical component of healthy development. Parenting styles have been found to have an effect on childhood outcomes of well-being. The transition from adolescence to adulthood can be challenging due to the timing of puberty, and due to the extended amount of time spent in emerging adulthood. Although physical decline begins in middle adulthood, cognitive decline does not begin until later. Activities that keep the body and mind active can help maintain good physical and cognitive health as we age. Social supports through family and friends remain important as we age.

Personal application questions

Which parenting style describes how you were raised? Provide an example or two to support your answer.

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Would you describe your experience of puberty as one of pride or embarrassment? Why?

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Your best friend is a smoker who just found out she is pregnant. What would you tell her about smoking and pregnancy?

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Imagine you are a nurse working at a clinic that provides prenatal care for pregnant women. Your patient, Anna, has heard that it’s a good idea to play music for her unborn baby, and she wants to know when her baby’s hearing will develop. What will you tell her?

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Questions & Answers

what is psychology
Drishti Reply
The scientific study of the mind
Gina
scientific study of mind and behaviour
Siva
...
Saeed
Scientific study of mind soul behaviour and experiences
Ayush
scientific srtudy of behaviour and cognitive processes
Reshmi
Apply social psychology on real life in Nigerian universities campus
tyosaa Reply
what is the meaning of an idiosyncratic pattern
Krystle Reply
I am here for the first time just here to learn...
michael Reply
hi I'm new on here first time
Lisa
hello
GOPAL
hi,am new here
jennifer
what is this group all about
jennifer
Suppose an individual with OCD experiences obsessive thoughts about germs, contamination, and disease whenever she encounters a doorknob. What might have constituted a viable unconditioned stimulus? 
la Reply
What are factors that influence learning?
Enos Reply
Environment Heredity(I am not sure about heredity)
Tusita
Helpful. .. thanks
Enos
Sure, anytime
Tusita
I have other questions also
Enos
Based on the factors affecting learning, how do we improve learning
Enos
I think that addressing that everyone learns in their own time
James
Peer group influence can also be another reason
Sorie
Also knowing what's going on at home. what pressure are the parents putting on them.
James
am I close or no
James
also is there a lack of care? going one more step. with peer groups do an activity that shows how much they have in common
James
I think one's society has a big role to play in determining what/when & how he/she learns.
BECHEM
multiple reasons at different stages. at the earliest stages of development in a child is behaviour of people around. A baby starts learning basic social expressions and actions by mimicking the people around it. further social and cultural practices enforces learning and behaviour
imirror
from need to nutrition everything affect development and learning when choosing on a single factor of influence it is necessary to keep these other factors in the mind as environment around people is very plastic and flexible and there are many variables playing active role
imirror
social interaction is surely a big influence hence can be used to improve learning.
imirror
to encourage learning it is important to establish curiosity and notion of possibility for more perspectives habit of questioning possibilities and cause and effect in a great way to encourage learning in my opinion. language is another important factor
imirror
under what schedule of reinforcement do animals learn from ?
Phelisa Reply
the role of emotional intelligence in a courtship behavior
Caren Reply
1
describe the task and roles of industrial psychologist in solving the problems
Solomzi Reply
hi I'm Vaishnavi and I'm new to psychology:)
Vaishnavi Reply
what is motivation
Muhammad Reply
getting passionate about something and strive for success
Leanne
observation and method based
Winter Reply
the meaning of science
Winter
soul is the Greek word for psyche
Winter
psychology is scientific research of the human brain.
Winter
Psychology is a study of human mind and behaviour
Vaishnavi
psychology is a social science which aim at studying the mind as it affect the behavior of an individual.
Prince
write and explain four psychosexual stages of personality development
MPHID Reply
I'm asking on behalf of someone How can a guy get over his weakness for girls? Like the person have soft spot for every girl and he thinks he love them then suddenly stuff change.... Like a switch
Ajayi Reply
yes
Beverly
whats the age of the boy?
Beverly
16 or 17
Ajayi
lol. it gets over with time. it's not something that can be changed instantly. and for teenagers.. anyone of opposite sex is a tasty lollipop.
Alex
yes in time it will go away but could also take years
Beverly
maybe because he doesn't really have mind of making decisions at the moment on what he need and what he doesn't want
Nwokwu
maybe he's trying to find someone to love because he's either lacked loved and feel that's the only way to feel loved or he's lonely and feels a girl can make it better . either he's got deal with the core issue
Jonan
its natural. I think it should be like this. girls also have weakness toward guys. but you can overcome on few things like concept of beauty. first step is realisation which will grow in you. also discipline help in these things.
Sujeet
what are cluster A disease?
Saee Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Psychology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 03, 2015 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11629/1.5
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