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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Psychology

Postgraduate Course: Current Topics in Developmental Cognitive Science (PSYL11084)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis course will provide a unique opportunity to learn about the work that is ongoing by top Developmental Psychology researchers in the department. You will gain an introduction to each researcher's subject area and specific examples of work each has contributed to the field of Developmental Psychology.
Course description Examples of topics likely to be presented by some of the researchers contributing to the course are as follows:

Bonnie Auyeung
Within the first two years of life, a child's brain undergoes exponential growth and change. The drivers behind this early development are still not completely understood. In this course we will explore varying methods for understanding early brain and behavioural development in children. We will then consider how we can use this knowledge to examine the origins of neurodevelopmental disorders, which are defined as disabilities in the functioning of the brain that affect a child's behaviour, memory, or ability to learn.

Nicolas Chevalier
Young children are notoriously bad at self-regulating. Yet emerging cognitive control in early childhood, which promotes greater autonomy and increasingly adaptive behaviour, is already one of the best predictors of life success. In the course, we will consider how different methodologies (including behavioural, eye-tracking, EEG, and fNIRS) can shed light on the cognitive mechanisms that drive major changes in cognitive control during preschool and middle childhood and their neural correlates.

Morag Donaldson
From early in their development, children show a strong interest in understanding and talking about causal relationships e.g., about why an event has happened, how things work, and how people's actions or emotions might be explained or predicted. We will use research on children's explanations and understanding of causality to illustrate the complexity of the interplay amongst cognitive, linguistic and social aspects of development.

Alex Doumas
Dr Doumas is interested in how children develop the ability to think abstract thoughts. In the course of just a few years, children go from barely making sense of the world around them to speaking in complex sentences, counting sets of objects, and playing games with several rules. A few years after that they're doing algebra, balancing chemical compounds, and mulling over the ethics of decisions. How do they do it? Children get a lot of experience with the world, but it's not just an accumulation of information that makes them so smart. They learn methods for representing the world and strategies for using these representations to reason. His work focuses on how children and adults learn the complex mental representations that support abstract thinking and reasoning. Dr Doumas employs both empirical and computational (primarily neural network models) methods to explore this issue.

Hugh Rabagliati
Children learn language with remarkable speed and fluidity. We will discuss some of the learning mechanisms and biases that allow children to do this, with a focus on learning words and sentence structure.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 88 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 80 %, Practical Exam 20 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework 80 %, Participation 20%

Students will complete a series of exercises over the course, as well as a final written assignment.
Feedback Discussion sessions will be included in each class. Students will receive feedback on in-course exercises within 15 working days.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. describe and understand a range of research methods used to investigate early child development.
  2. understand the specific methods and contributions to the literature made by developmental scientists in the department.
  3. begin to integrate the course material and incorporate these into a plan for individual projects.
Reading List
Auyeung, B., Lombardo, M. V., & Baron-Cohen, S. (2013). Prenatal and postnatal hormone effects on the human brain and cognition. Pflugers Archiv - European Journal of Physiology, 465(5), 557-571.

Chevalier, N. (2015). The development of executive function: Toward more optimal coordination of control with age. Child Development Perspectives, 9(4), 239-244.

Chevalier, N. (2015). Executive function development: Making sense of the environment to behave adaptively. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 24(5), 363-368.

Donaldson, M.L. (1996). Contextual influences on children's spoken and written explanations. Applied Psycholinguistics, 17, 355-75.

Donaldson, M.L., Reid, J. and Murray, C. (2007). Causal sentence production in children with language impairments. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders. 42, 155-186.

Doumas, A. & Hummel, J. E. Mar 2012 The Oxford Handbook of Thinking and Reasoning. Holyoak, K. J. & Morrison, R. G. (eds.). Oxford University Press, Vol. 1.

Rabagliati, H., Marcus, G.F., & Pylkkänen, L. (2010). Shifting senses in lexical semantic development. Cognition, 117(1), 17-37.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Research and enquiry skills e.g. problem solving and critical thinking
Personal and intellectual autonomy e.g. developing higher-order thinking and sound reasoning
Communication skills e.g. engaging effectively in discussions; written communication skills
Keywordsdevelopmental cognitive science; brain development; cognitive development; language development
Course organiserDr Bonnie Auyeung
Course secretaryMiss Toni Noble
Tel: (0131 6)51 3188
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