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Cognitive development can be defined as the building of thought processes, which include problem solving, decision-making, and ability to remember, right from infancy all the way through puberty to maturity. Cognitive development then refers to how an individual comprehends, conceives, and arrives at understanding their world by the interaction between the genetically obtained factors and learned factors. Intelligence, information processing, reasoning, memory, and language development are among the fields of cognitive development (Wattenberg, 2003).
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Piaget visualized a child's knowledge as consisting of schemas, which are the fundamental blocks of knowledge that are used to arrange past experiences and allowing for the tendency to understand newly obtained experiences.
According to Piaget, schemas are persistently being modified by assimilation and accommodation which are the two corresponding processes. Assimilation is the process of acquiring fresh information by integrating it into the schema that already exists. This means that individuals assimilate new feels by associating them to what they already know. Accommodation is the result of the schema accommodating new knowledge. Cognitive development entails an enduring effort to attain stability between assimilation and accommodation that is termed to as equilibration. The assimilation and accommodation brings about brain and nervous system development (Taylor, 2006).
Cognitive development occurs in a sequence of four different, common stages, each of which is characterized by gradually more sophistication and theoretical degrees of thought. The stages constantly take place in the same order. And this shows the lifespan development in terms of thought processes. The stages are as follows:
Sensorimotor stage: It occurs between birth to two years. In this stage intelligence is depicted by motor activity with no use of symbols. Infants have very limited knowledge about the world, but it keeps on developing as infants interact with external environment and gain experiences. At around seven months of age children attain object permanence which is also called memory. Physical development enables the child to start building new intellectual powers.
Pre-operational stage: It occurs between 2-7 years. In this stage, intelligence is portrayed by the use of symbols, the use of language matures, and in this case the child achieves development of both memory and imagination. The child thinks in a non-reversible and non-logical way.
Concrete operational stage: It occurs between 8-11 years. In this stage intelligence is confirmed by systematic and logical handling of symbols that are related to real objects. Operational thinking builds up and the child's mental actions are still reversible.
Formal operational stage: It occurs at 12 through adulthood. It is a stage where intelligence is portrayed by the rational use of symbols associated to theoretical concepts.
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According to Gibbs (2003), morality can be defined as the cultural or personal values, codes of behavior or social traditions that differentiate right and wrong in the society of human beings. Lawrence Kohlberg noticed that experiences figure moral understanding about what is honest and good within the immediate environment. Kohlberg continued with his annotations beyond the stages in childhood, establishing that human beings start with inborn individual morals, develop reciprocation with others in the environment, and afterwards grow to comprehend other individuals' moral perspectives and of society as a whole. This shows that the brain and nervous system develops as one keeps on interacting with others in the environment.
Erikson was a Neo-Freudian and was an ego psychologist. He studied the stages of human development, across the whole life span. All of the Erikson's psychosocial developmental stages are noticeable by a conflict. For these conflicts, successful resolution will produce a well-disposed result, for instance, trust versus mistrust (Wattenberg, 2003).