Section 2, Article 3 - A cognitive developmental theory offered in contrast to Piaget’s theory is information processing theory. As the name implies, this theory proposes that cognition is a process similar to that of a computer. In terms of infant cognition, this theory asserts that children’s cognitive abilities increase as they grow in their ability to obtain information — that is, sensory input. In addition, their cognitive abilities improve as they grow in their ability to process i, which depends on motivation, experience, and age. In the , information enters the brain through the senses, is processed in the brain — where it is limited or enhanced by perception — results in cognition. Two ideas particularly important in illustrating this theory include and .
One familiar experiment related to infants and affordances is known as the . Researchers theorized that if children have developed a sense of depth perception, then they would not venture out on the clear surface. However, if children had not yet developed this ability, then they will happily traverse the clear surface to join their mothers. For many years, researchers believed that sensory input provided by the maturing visual cortex was what controlled children’s decisions to venture out over the “cliff” (). More recent research indicates that children’s hesitation to cross the line is more likely connected to experience or motivation. Thus, sensory input alone does not inhibit the behavior, but rather cognitive processing is also involved (). So, within the information processing model for cognitive development, progress is evident in infants’ thinking processes as they improve in perceptual ability. Thus, affordances become a part of the input process. As sensory ability, age, experience, and motivation increases, children become more advanced in their cognitive abilities.
Memory is the second part of the information processing model. Just as a computer uses stored information to process new data, human beings use stored data to form new thoughts and ideas. Like we have seen in other areas of investigation, recent discoveries have shown past theories to be incorrect. For instance, it was once believed that infants did not have the ability to retain memories, but researchers have found that infants can perform tasks that require the ability to access stored memories. The ability to recall memories seems to be aided by repetition and reminders (). Psychologists study two different categories related to memory, including and . As is the case with most abilities, the ability to use data stored in one’s memory improves with age and experience. While it was once believed that infants were not capable of forming memories, more recent research indicates that the development of memories begins very early, quite possibly in the womb. When newborns are exposed to the smell of their own amniotic fluid immediately after birth, it has a calming effect (). Infants also appear to prefer the sound of their mother’s voice immediately after birth, as they hear and remember the cadence or tone of their voice. So, while memory does play a part in the life of an infant or young child, it is described as “fragile,” because it only endures if repetition and reminders are provided ().