Nature and Nature in Cognitive Development

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Terry Tarte
Human Growth & Development
Week 4 HW

Why are both nature and nurture important in perceptual development? How do both help a baby’s brain and sensory organs to develop?
The question of whether nature or nurture is more important in terms of perceptual development has bee long debated. In general, there are two theories that explain how humans develop these perceptions. The Nativists claim that our brains are built or hardwired to recognize certain stimuli by both design and construction. In contrast, an Empiricist would say that we learn through experience how to perceive things.

There was an experiment done by Nativist researchers that sought to determine how very young mammals are able to perceive. The data concluded that early infants were able to perceive quite a lot before they really had a chance to learn anything. Gibson and Walk’s the “visual cliff” experiment was one such experiment, in this test both young animals and 6 month old human infants were taken to a side of a visual cliff, the test subjects would avoid the clearly deep drop. This indicated that children can perceive visual depth and that visual depth dominates even touch information.

Additionally, studies have been done that show babies can recognize faces and that they often prefer the visual stimulation of carton faces as opposed to the same features arranged at random. In other tests it was shown that babies can also recognize whether or not and object is coming directly at their face or not. These experiments show that even the undeveloped infant brain has considerable capacity for perceptual capabilities.

In contrast, several Empiricists experiments have been done as well. In one such study, scientists sought to determine the effects of depriving developing animals from perceptual stimulations. These tests have consistently shown that the longer the subject is deprived, the more severe the consequences. For example, humans are sometimes born without sight,...
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