This paper has been written but was rejected by the professor and needs to be re-written. Below are the comments and the entire paper but I can upload the complete paper as a word document if necessary. It needs to be re-written to the professors specifications and comments:
"I am impressed with your engagement in a more difficult and demanding topic area. But I am disappointed at your stringing together vast quotes. As a doctoral student, there is need to develop a stronger presentation of research information that is drawn upon your selection and “integration” of ideas”…not sources.
I am requesting that rewrite and redevelop this paper based upon a more thoughtful engagement and presentation that both draws upon your sources ??" but more so demonstrates your ability to synthesis and differentiate ideas from sources. Further, I don’t want to see full paragraph citations from sources.
This presentation is not appropriate for doctoral student work… So, I want you to model expected doctoral writing in a scholarly paper
I recognize that you may have had limited time to write the paper…but I want you to demonstrate your doctoral understandings of developing and presenting a research focused paper.
1) the use of current and varied scholarly resources representing adult development and learning - 10 points
You have drawn upon a variety of current and scholarly resources focused upon both the neuroscience of the brain as well as key elements that influence memory and learning in adults.
2) coherent organization of material - 5 points
The first few pages of your paper for a bit meandering. I think you started two far beyond the focus of your paper. I suspect you may have wanted to focus on the nature of adult development and its relationship to neuroscience. However, the initial introduction isn’t that effective in establishing that connection.
The section on the biology of the brain and nervous system is amazingly complex and well-presented.
The section on Implications and development of neuroscience and adult Learning is also very good. However, you draw upon full paragraph quotes ??" in an excessive fashion. It is evident that you don’t know how to paraphrase and only draw on select sentence quotes. It is also evident that you need to develop your own thinking in relation to the ideas presented across a number of sources. I realize that this topic area is highly complex and technical. However, as a doctoral student, you need to develop strong skills of use of sources for presentation of key ideas in a synthesis fashion. You seem to have developed a line of presentation that is coherent ??" but it appears to rely on a few key sources with significantly long quotes or paraphrasing.
3) logical and persuasive argument, - 10 points
You have developed a logical presentation of key aspects of this topic.
4) evidence of relationship to adult development/learning/education ??" 10 points
You have connected the discussion of neuroscience to concepts of adult learning ??" but have not attempted to integrate sources together ??" but rather done a rather pedestrian stringing of sources together. I would expect this presentation from a master’s student, but not a doctoral student.
5) well-written in terms of style, format, - 5 points
Lack of understanding the use of APA style of reference… note the comments below as primary examples.
For a citation with quote… the quote follows the last word -- ” (author, year, page) follows. Note page 2 ??" Ulijasek… modified quote mark, as well as a page number. Again, similar issue with the quote with Kastenbaum. P. 13 & p. 14 ??" quote on Hebb, same issue
p. 14-quotes ( two paragraph) from Demick & Andreoletti ??" Note APA… any citation more than five lines is indented and should also have a page number. P. 16 ??" full paragraph cite from Guadagnoli ??" same issue. Same issue with the full paragraph ??" Smith quote. P. 17 ??" continuing full paragraphs as cites… ???"
Below is the actual paper I submitted:
One of the most noticeable aspects of humanity is the change in shape, size, form, and function from an underdeveloped fetus, to a full grown adult. Humans
are a very successful species. “Much of this success stems from the human
design, which involves having a large body
size, a brain that is disproportionately large relative to that body
size, and an extended period of childhood” (Ulijaszek, et al., 2000). The brain gives us advantages relative to other species, having the ability to think our way through problems, and the time to develop behaviors through learning and activities that will make us successful, social, problem-solving animals.
growth and development is very broad in nature. It covers many aspects of the human
being such as structural, behavioral, physiological, humanistic, psychological, and cognitive among others. It usually provides a descriptive analysis of human
development from fertilization until death, discussing each developmental stage from childhood to adulthood. Understanding human
growth and development is intellectually and practically important for it can help in developing diagnostic tools as well as screening and treatment procedures for the health population.
There are many theorists who formulated growth and development models. Most theoretical models focus only on early stages of development. That is why people usually perceive the word “development” as “child development”. In an attempt to develop a concrete and viable model of development through the entire life course, some investigators attempted to extend the range of theories that focuses only on early stages of development. “Disengagement theory was the first substantive and innovative theory to consider the middle and later adult years; 'mid-life' crisis emerged as an influential alternative a few years later” (Kastenbaum, 1993).
Adult development, being considered by many theorists as part of their theoretical models, has become an interesting topic in the past few years. There are models that form the foundation for adult development as well as aging. One of the most important concepts developed is the life-span perspective model. It divides the human
development into two phases: an early phase (childhood and adolescence) and a latter phase (young adulthood, middle age, and old age). This perspective emphasizes that it takes a lifetime for the human
development to complete. It gives us an understanding of the many influences we experience and points out that each stages of the human
life are equally important. Adult development is a complex phenomenon and understanding how an adult develops requires a variety of perspectives. It may include behavioral, physiological, and cognitive approaches (Cavanaugh & Fields, 2006).
Cognition is the activity of knowing. It refers to the processes of through which knowledge is acquired and problems are solved. Cognitive development refers not just to the structural development of the brain but also to the development of one's knowledge as well. Piaget indicated that the highest cognitive stage of development for adult people is formal operations. There are researches that revealed limitations in adult performance that must be explained, it suggests that some adults progress beyond formal operations to more advanced forms of thought (Sigelman & Rider, 2009).
Increasing interests and concern regarding adult development and learning has emerged in the past few years since the adult stage of development has been considered by many theorists. This study focuses on the cognitive aspect of growth and development of the adult. Specifically, this research aims to provide an in-depth discussion about the brain and neuroscience and its relation to adult development and learning.
Review of Related Literature
Brain and Neuroscience
The Nervous System
All organisms receive information, process that information received, and produce an appropriate response. For most living organisms, these functions are performed by two interconnected systems namely the nervous system and the endocrine system.
The nervous system is composed of large networks of nerve cells that perform three interconnecting functions. First, the nervous system allows organisms to receive information using their senses. It allows the individual to sense what is happening in their environment. Second, the nervous system processes the information received and compares it to other senses. Lastly, the nervous system allows the individual to respond, do things, and appropriately react to the perceived stimuli primarily by controlling muscles and glands. The three functions can be accomplished within a few milliseconds. The speed of this information transmission is achieved by electrical and chemical impulses within and between nerve cells (Harris, 2010).
The nervous system can be divided into two parts: the central and the peripheral nervous systems. The central nervous system consists of the brain and the spinal cord while the peripheral nervous system is outside the central nervous system and is composed of nerves and ganglia.
The peripheral nervous system has two subdivisions, namely the sensory division and the motor division. The sensory division conducts action potentials from sensory receptors to the central nervous system. Sensory neurons transmit action potentials from the periphery to the central nervous system. The motor division conducts action potentials from effector organs such as muscles and glands. Motor neurons transmit action potentials from the central nervous system toward the periphery (Seeley, et al., 2005).
Neurons and their Electrical Activity
The nervous system is composed of millions of nerve cells called neurons. Neurons are the parenchyma of the nervous system which performs every function of the said system from simple sensory functions to complex thinking and analysis. They receive stimuli and transmit action potentials to other neurons or to effector organs. The anatomy of a neuron is composed of four main parts namely the cell body
, the dendrites, the axon, and the nerve fibers (Clark, 2005).
The cell body
is the central region of the neuron. It varies in diameter and contains a single large nucleus. The nucleus of the neuron is the source of information for protein synthesis. It also contains most of the organelles of the neuron. Specifically, it contains large numbers of mitochondria because of its high metabolic function and also abundant rough endoplasmic reticulums which they call Nissl bodies
(Seeley, et al., 2005).
The dendrites of a neuron are cytoplasmic extensions that reach out from the cell body
like arms. They contain full array of cellular organelles, such as mitochondria, chromatophilic substance, and ribosomes. The most important feature of a dendrite is its electrical activity. They receive information from other neurons and transmit them toward the cell body
. They produce electrical impulses called graded potentials. Graded potentials can have varying degrees of depolarization or hyperpolarization. They arise in the dendrites or in the cell body
as a result of various stimuli and are important in initiating action potentials in neurons. As the graded potential passes through a cell body
, it may initiate an action potential at the base of another cytoplasmic projection which is the axon (Clark, 2005).
An axon is a long cell process extending from the neuron cell body
. There is only one axon in each neuron. It has a plasma membrane which is called the axolemma, and a cytoplasm which is called the axoplasm. Unlike dendrites, there are no chromatophilic substances found in axons. Axons may branch distally into axon terminals called telodendria. These end in sacs called synaptic end bulbs. Synaptic end bulbs are parts of synapses or neuroeffector junctions. Axons also play an important role in the electrical impulse activities of neurons. They carry action potentials away from the perikaryon toward the synaptic end bulbs, and these action potentials require the axolemma to have many volt-gaged ion channels. The releases of neurotransmitters from synaptic vesicles into the synaptic cleft are caused by these action potentials. A mechanism of active movement in the axon is called axonal transport. It expends energy to move substances in both directions in the axoplasm approximately 300 mm per day. This mechanism involves the cytoskeleton, and is used to deliver organelles and wastes back to the cell body
Nerve fibers are collections of axons or dendrites. They sometimes have additional layers surrounding them for insulation. This insulation is called myelin. Axons are surrounded by cell processed of oligodendrocytes in the central nervous system and Schwann cells in the peripheral nervous system. Myelin sheaths are repeatedly wrapped around a segment of axon to form a series of tightly wrapped cell membranes. Myelin sheaths prevent almost all electrical current flow through the cell membrane. There are gaps in between the myelin sheaths which is called the nodes of Ranvier. It can be seen about every millimeter between the oligodendrocyte segments or between individual Schwann cells. Current flows easily between the extracellular fluid and the axon at the nodes of Ranvier, and action potentials can develop (Seeley, et al., 2005).
The Central Nervous System
The central nervous system consists of the brain which is present inside the cranial cavity, and the spinal cord present in the vertebral column. The peripheral part of the brain is made up of grey matter while the medulla, which is the inside of the brain, is made up of white matter. Both the brain and the spinal cord are completely surrounded by three meninges or membranes which lie between the skull and the brain. Meninges are connective tissue membranes that protect the brain and the spinal cord from injuries. Its function is to cushion the tissues of the brain and the spinal cord when a physical trauma occurs. The three protective meninges are named dura mater, arachnoid mater, and the pia mater (Bhise & Yadav, 2008).
The dura mater is the most superficial and thickest of the three meninges. Its folds extend into the longitudinal fissure between the two cerebral hemispheres and between the cerebrum and cerebellum. The dura mater contains spaces called dural venous sinuses within its folds. The sinuses collect blood from the small veins of the brain. The dural venous sinuses empty their collected blood into the internal jugular veins, which exit the skull. The dura mater is tightly attached to the periosteum of the skull. The dura mater of the spinal cord has a space between the vertebrae which we call epidural space. The epidural space is used for administration of anesthetics in times of surgery (Seeley, et al., 2005).
The second meningeal membrane is the arachnoid mater. It is composed of very thin and wispy connective tissues that cover the brain and the spinal cord. The space between the dura mater and the arachnoid mater is called the subarachnoid space, which is normally a potential space that contains a very small amount of serous fluid. It is a delicate serous membrane that contains cerebrospinal fluid (Bhise & Yadav, 2008).
The last meningeal membrane is the pia mater. It is very tightly bound to the surface of the brain and the spinal cord. The space between the arachnoid mater and the pia mater is called the subarachnoid space, which contains blood vessels and is filled with cerebrospinal fluid. Its function is to protect the nervous tissue, and to supply blood and nourishment to the central nervous tissue (Seeley, et al., 2005).
The central nervous system contains fluid-filled cavities called ventricles. These are irregularly shaped cavities that contain cerebrospinal fluid. There are four ventricles in the central nervous system namely the right and left lateral ventricles, the third ventricle, and the fourth ventricle. Their main function is to produce cerebrospinal fluid that will nourish and cushion the nervous tissues (Seeley, et al., 2005).
The lateral ventricles lie within the cerebral hemispheres, one on either side of the median plane just below the corpus calosum. The two lateral ventricles are separated by a thin membrane called septum lucidum. Blood capillaries are present in the lateral ventricles. It is also lined internally by means of ciliated epithelium called choroid plexus where cerebrospinal fluid is derived (Bhise & Yadav, 2008).
The third ventricle is a smaller midline cavity located in the center of the diencephalon between the two halves of the thalamus. It is a ventricle filled with cerebrospinal fluid and it is connected by holes to the lateral ventricles known as interventricular foramina (Bhise & Yadav, 2008).
The fourth ventricle is located at the base of the cerebellum and is connected to the third ventricle by the cerebral aqueduct which is a narrow canal. It is present below and behind the third ventricle and between the cerebellum and pons varolii. The fourth ventricle is connected continuously with the central canal of the spinal cord. It also opens into the subarachnoid space through foramina in its walls and roof (Seeley, et al., 2005).
The central nervous system has an abundant supply of cerebrospinal fluid. Cerebrospinal fluid is produced by the choroid plexuses. These are specialized structures made of ependymal cells which are located in the ventricles. Cerebrospinal fluid fills the brain ventricles, the central canal of the spinal cord, as well as the subarachnoid space. It flows from the lateral ventricles into the third ventricle and then through the cerebral aqueduct in the fourth ventricle. Only small amounts of cerebrospinal fluid enter the central canal of the spinal cord. Cerebrospinal fluid exits from the fourth ventricle through small openings and enters the subarachnoid space. There are masses of arachnoid tissue, called arachnoid granulations, which penetrate into the superior sagittal sinus, cerebrospinal fluid passes from the subarachnoid space into the blood through these granulations (Seeley, et al., 2005).
One of the main functions of the cerebrospinal fluid is to protect and support the delicate structures of the brain and the spinal cord. Also, it maintains uniform pressure around the brain structure. The cerebrospinal fluid also acts as a cushion and shock absorber for the brain and the spinal cord especially during times of injury and severe trauma. Lastly, the cerebrospinal fluid keeps the brain and the spinal cord moist as there may be an interchange of substances between the fluid and nerve cells (Bhise & Yadav, 2008).
The major regions of the human
brain are the brainstem, the diencephalon, the cerebrum, and the cerebellum.
The brainstem connects the spinal cord to the brain. It is composed of the medulla oblongata, pons, and midbrain and contains several nuclei involved in vital body
functions such as the regulation of heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. This is the reason of death for people who had severe injuries of the brainstem (Bear, et al., 2007).
The medulla oblongata is the most inferior portion of the brainstem. It is also connected continuously with the spinal cord. It extends from the level of the foramen magnum to the pons. The medulla oblongata contains ascending and descending nerve tracts as well as discrete nuclei which help in the regulation of heart rate and blood vessel diameter, breathing, swallowing, vomiting, coughing, sneezing, balance, and coordination. There are two prominent enlargements called pyramids on the anterior surface of the medulla oblongata. They contain descending nerve tracts, which transmit action potentials from the brain to motor neurons of the spinal cord. They are also involved in the conscious control of skeletal muscles (Bear, et al., 2007).
The pons is immediately superior to the medulla oblongata. It contains several nuclei, and ascending and descending nerve tracts. Some of the nuclei in the pons are responsible in relaying information between the cerebrum and the cerebellum. Several nuclei of the medulla oblongata extend into the lower part of the pons which functions in regulation of breathing, swallowing, and balance. Other nuclei in the pons are responsible in the control of activities such as chewing and salivation (Seeley, et al., 2005).
The smallest region of the brainstem is the midbrain. It is found just superior to the pons. The dorsal part of the midbrain is composed of four colliculi. The two inferior colliculi are major relay centers for the auditory nerve pathways in the central nervous system. The two superior colliculi are involved in controlling visual reflexes. Also, the midbrain contains nuclei involved in the coordination of eye movements, as well as in the control of pupil diameter and the lens shape. The midbrain has a substantia nigra, a black nuclear mass that is also part of the basal nuclei, which is involved in the regulation of body
movements. The rest of the midbrain is composed of large ascending tracts from the spinal cord to the cerebrum and descending tracts from the cerebrum to the spinal cord or cerebellum (Seeley, et al., 2005).
There are group of nuclei scattered throughout the brainstem called the reticular formation. They play important regulatory functions in the brain. Specifically, they are involved in regulating cyclical motor functions such as respiration, walking, and chewing. The reticular activating system is composed mainly of reticular formations. They play an important role in arousing and maintaining consciousness and in regulating the sleep-wake cycle. Damage to cells of the reticular formation can result in coma (Bear, et al., 2007).
The cerebellum literally means little brain. It is attached to the brainstem by cerebellar peduncles. These large connections provide means of communication between the cerebellum and other parts of the central nervous system. The cerebellar cortex is composed of gray matter and it also has gyri and sulci. It consists of gray nuclei and white nerve tracts on the inside. The cerebellum is involved in balance, maintenance of muscle tone, and coordination of fine motor movement. The cerebellum also compares information about the intended movement from the motor cortex with sensory information from the moving structures because action potentials from proprioceptive neurons reach the cerebellum. Another function of the cerebellum involves learning motor skills such as playing the piano or driving a car (Bear, et al., 2007).
The next part of the brain is called the diencephalon. It lies between the brainstem and the cerebrum. The main components of the diencephalon are the thalamus, epithalamus, and the hypothalamus.
The thalamus is the largest part of the diencephalon. Its shape is somewhat like a yo-yo, with two large lateral parts connected in the center by a small interthalamic adhesion. The thalamus consists of a cluster of nuclei which is responsible for most sensory input that ascends through the spinal cord. “The thalamus also influences mood and registers an un-localized, uncomfortable perception of pain” (Seeley, et al., 2005).
The epithalamus is a small area located superior and posterior to the thalamus. It is involved in the emotional and visceral response to odors because of few small nuclei in it. The epithalamus also contains a pineal body
which is an endocrine gland that may influence the onset of puberty. The pineal body
may also play a role in controlling some long-term cycles that are influenced by the light-dark cycle (Bear, et al., 2007).
The hypothalamus is very important in maintaining homeostasis. It is the most inferior part of the diencephalon and it contains several small nuclei. The hypothalamus plays a crucial role in the control of body
temperature, hunger, and thirst. It is responsible for sensations such as sexual pleasure, feeling relaxed and rested after a meal, rage, and fear. Nervous perspiration in response to stress or feeling hungry as a result of depression and other emotional responses which seem to be inappropriate to the circumstances also involve the hypothalamus. There is a funnel-shaped stalk in the hypothalamus, called the infundibulum that extends to the pituitary gland. This gives the hypothalamus a major role in controlling the secretion of hormones from the pituitary gland. There are also mamillary bodies
on the posterior portion of the hypothalamus. These are involved in emotional responses to odors and in memory as well (Bear, et al., 2007).
The largest part of the brain is the cerebrum. It is divided into two hemispheres by a longitudinal fissure: the left and the right hemispheres. Each hemisphere contains numerous folds called gyri which greatly increase the area of the cerebral cortex. It also has intervening grooves called sulci. Each hemisphere is divided into four lobes named for the skull bones overlying them. The frontal lobe is responsible in the control of voluntary motor functions, motivation, aggression, mood, and smell reception. The parietal lobe is the main center for the reception and conscious perception of most sensory information such as touch, pain, temperature, balance, and taste. The occipital lobe functions in the reception and perception of visual stimuli. The last lobe, the temporal lobe, is involved in smell and hearing sensations and plays an important role in memory (Seeley, et al., 2005).
Neuroscience and its Relationship to Adult Development and Learning
The Neuroscience of Learning and Memory
After having an in-depth discussion of the structures and functions of the human
brain, the goal is now to relate the study of neuroscience with adult development, specifically adult learning. The field of cognitive neuroscience attempts to relate cognition to neuroscience in order to understand how thought is implemented in the brain.
The single most influential finding from the cognitive neuroscience of learning and memory is that there are a lot of relatively independent memory systems in the human
brain. Long-term memory depends on different neural substances than does working memory, and working memory depends on different neural substances than sensory memory. Moreover, the executive system that controls these memory systems also depends on different neural substrates than do the core memory systems themselves.
Donald Hebb proposed one of the first neural theories of learning. “Hebb's idea was that if two connected neurons are frequently active at the same time, some form of physiological change in their connectivity (learning) could render them more likely to be coactive in the future, thus providing a physiological basis for memory (Guadagnoli, et al., 2008).” Evidence for synaptic strengthening was discovered in neural circuits of the mollusk Aplysia and in hippocampal neurons of the rabbit empirically supported Hebb's principle of learning. The principle of Hebbian learning provides an explicit account of how patterns of activities in a network of neurons can be stored in a pattern of synaptic connections, thereby serving as a neural substrate of memory.
“Hebbian learning is a powerful mechanism, but operating in conjunction with recurrent connectivity without other constraints would be problematic for the formation of memory. The problem is that because neurons are highly interconnected, excitatory activity in a few neurons tends to spread to neighboring neurons. This problem is compounded by the presence of recurrent connectivity, which allows activity to reverberate in the network creating mutually reinforcing activity” (Guadagnoli, et al., 2008). As activity progresses to a network of neurons, the more active neurons tend to increasingly excite each other and at the same time increasingly inhibit less active neurons. In this way, neurons become specialized, they specifically respond to some patterns of input.
“In recent years, a number of theories and frameworks have emerged that try to address both the potentials and limitations of effective cognitive and social functioning during the adult years. Such frameworks have aided the articulation of the characteristics of adult development by integrating observations that would otherwise have been disconnected pieces of a puzzle and less meaningful. In the study of adult cognitive development, much of the available data and theory suggests that there are improvements or stability as well as declines in cognitive function during the adult years. These data are being used by researchers in the development of adult learning principles” (Demick & Andreoletti, 2003).
“The processes and outcomes of learning influence the nature and course of adult development, and reciprocally, developmental variables influence the processes and products of learning. The concepts of learning and development can be distinguished along two dimensions. First, in terms of the inclusiveness or scope of the behavior and of the antecedents of change, learning refers to the effects of practice or experience on behavior whereas development refers to a wider variety of influences that are associated with time-related change. It is generally determined that developmental change is multi-determined and multidirectional” (Demick & Andreoletti, 2003).
Implications and Development of Neuroscience to Adult Learning
Significant advances have been made since the mid-1970s in understanding how the nervous system encodes and retrieves information. Recent researches focus on understanding adult learning and memory at the cellular level, where the information encoding process can be found and recognized to changes in the properties of neurons. This is because the encoding process is known to take place through modifications in the biophysical properties of neurons and the strength of synaptic connections among neurons (Guadagnoli, et al., 2008).
One of the emerging and famous neurobiological principles is that no single universal mechanism for learning and memory exists. Instead, different mechanisms can be used by different memory systems, and any single memory system can use a variety of cellular mechanisms. Therefore, an understanding of the general ways in which neurons are changed by learning and the ways in which those changes are maintained and expressed at the cellular level is required to have a comprehensive understanding of memory mechanisms (Guadagnoli, et al., 2008).
It was more than a century since the forerunners of modern theories of learning started their works. William James, an American psychologist, was among the first to discuss the physiological basis of the manner in which information is encoded into brain cells. James formulated the “law of neural habit” in 1890, which states that the formation of associations is driven by the coactivity of elementary brain processes (Guadagnoli, et al., 2008).
Other scientists were also able to identify the locus of the physiological modifications. The Italian anatomist Tanzi advanced a hypothesis in 1893, it states that the connection between neurons was the locus of the change that encodes experience. In 1911, Spanish neuroanatomist Ramon Cajal reasoned that if signaling between neurons takes place at the connections between neurons. It follows the changes in the signal strength could alter the flow of activity within the brain and, consequently, the way an organism responds to experiences. Donald Hebb later advanced the argument in 1949, that learning involved coincident pre-synaptic and post-synaptic activities which he called as the “Hebb synapse” (Guadagnoli, et al., 2008).
“Advancement in neuro-scientific methods have stimulated a vast amount of research in cognition and aging. New findings describing linkages between behavioral and brain data require theoretical explanations. A new challenge for this field is that the same behavior can be related to different neuronal activation patterns. The question remains as to whether they are functionally equivalent, yet represent biologically different mechanisms. In addition, more theoretical and empirical work is needed to investigate whether different changes in the brain may be associated with identical or differential mechanisms. Another challenge is to study changes in the brain longitudinally to investigate causal relationships. For instance, it may well be that certain brain patterns or changes in brain patterns can predict longitudinal behavioral changes. This, in turn, may have implications for pathologies of aging” (Guadagnoli, et al., 2008).
“Recent interest in placing behavior in both in a socio-emotional and biological context has broadened the investigation of adult developmental theories from a one-dimensional focus on mechanisms to the consideration of multiple determinants of behavioral change. For example, changes in processing of information are not simply a function of biological decline, but instead are also influenced by social context, motivation, beliefs, emotions, and life experiences. As a result we can observe a proliferation of research examining the emotion-cognition interface in the aging mind. Motivational shifts towards an increased importance of emotional gratification have been shown to influence older adults' differential allocation of cognitive resources to positive and negative information. Another determinant of cognitive performance in adulthood is social context, for instance by activating positive and negative stereotypes of aging. Other examples of determinants of behavioral change are lifestyle interfaces with biology as reflected in the influence of health on cognition” (Smith, 2009).
“The discussion of neuro-scientific methods has demonstrated that cognitive functioning can be understood at new levels. These methods allow us to adequately test conditions under which structural change is associated with decline, compensation, or even improvement in functioning. Rather than using general biological deterioration as the default explanation for cognitive changes, we can identify specific biological mechanisms reflected in different structures of and activation patterns in the brain. An example is that we are now able to differentiate preserved areas of the brain, such as the amygdala, from areas that are more prone to decay, such as specific areas in the prefrontal cortex. These respective areas relate to preserved emotional processing on the one hand, and decline in other more effortful cognitive processes on the other” (Smith, 2009).
“The number of studies examining the interface between emotion and cognition in the aging mind has been rapidly increasing. At this stage, the empirical findings have been somewhat supportive of a shift in motivational goals on the part of older adults. Although the shift towards instantiating emotionally gratifying experience is not challenged, how this shift influences cognitive processing is still more to be fully explained. As methodologies for time sampling are becoming more accessible and reliable, emotional processing can be more explicitly examined in and generalized to an everyday life context. Furthermore, the advances in statistical procedure analyzing individual variability and the coupling of psychological constructs will allow for an on-line assessment of the coupling between emotion and cognition. More information is needed on the degree to which emotion processing is resource demanding” (Smith, 2009).
The study of adult development is grounded in the principles of scientific inquiry. Therefore, it is bound to produce results that are relevant to the subject matter being discussed. Researches in the past few years on several vertebrate and invertebrate model systems have led to the development of several general principles. These principles have been used by theorists in understanding adult learning processes. The principles developed might include the following (Squire, 2003).
1. Multiple memory systems are present in the brain.
2. Short-term forms of learning and memory require changes in existing neural circuits.
3. These changes may involve multiple cellular mechanisms within individual neurons.
4. Second-messenger systems play a role in mediating cellular changes.
5. Changes in membrane channels are often correlated with learning and memory.
6. Long-term memory requires new protein synthesis, whereas short-term memory does not.
In an adult cognitive development, it was thought that Piaget's four stages of cognitive development were universal, that it happens to every human
being. Current research indicates that it is not universal when it was shown that development of formal operational thought is largely dependent on the influence of secondary and post-secondary educational institutions. Evidence from researches shows that many adults do not use formal operational thinking and that others use a form of dialectical thinking that is not accounted for by Piaget's definition of formal operational thought (Squire, 2003).
It is now believed that there is a fifth stage of cognitive development that is typical of mature adult thinking which is called post-formal or dialectical operational thought. The features of this stage must take into consideration the type of thinking that is typical of an adult's daily tasks.
Theorists made use of the data from the recent researches concerning adult learning and neuroscience. They are able to develop principles that will guide professionals with their respected field of study. Together, they formulated the following principles on adult development and learning (Mackeracher, 2004).
1. Adults must transfer knowledge from one context to another, most often from a training context to a practical, applied context. Transferability involves the recognition of new instances in which existing knowledge and skills can be applied, a form of contextual intelligence and learning not accounted for in formal operational thinking.
2. Adults are called on to develop specialized knowledge and skills. In 1984, Kolb describes specialization as a powerful developmental dynamic in which adults are encouraged, through professional, occupational, and role socialization, to develop personal characteristics deemed appropriate and acceptable to their field of specialization and that increasingly become an integral part of one's self and one's personal model of reality. When these characteristics become an integral part of personality, they may affect cognition.
3. While children and adolescents spend much of their time solving problems and answering questions posed by others, adults must be able to identify and formulate problems before solving them, or invent questions before answering them. While these tasks sound simple, many adults, even those in formal educational systems, cannot do them.
4. Many adults live in work, family, and community environments where it is not clear what one's goals should be. Indeterminate situations, or ill-structured problems, call for the development of projective images of future possibilities. Such situations also require cognitive strategies allowing the individual to move back and forth between this future image and the current situation in order to monitor forward progress and modify actions before implementation.
5. Adults must be able to deal with uncertainties, doubts, and ambiguities. In 1973, Riegel criticizes the idea that formal operational thinking is the highest stage of cognitive development on the ground that uncertainty, doubt, and ambiguity cannot always be resolved through formal logic or rational thought. Therefore, it is logical to assume such situations call for cognitive strategies that represent a more advanced stage of cognitive development.
6. Most adults must live and work within complex systems of roles and relationships and must learn how to manage the interactions and conflicts among them. Systems thinking involves cognitive strategies for managing the complex interactions that typify most places of work and also the complexities of an individual's adult life.
7. Adults need to be able to reflect on their own actions and change those actions even while in the process of acting. The cognitive strategies required for learning how to learn and for reflective practice involve the development of executive cognitive strategies to guide and control other cognitive strategies. Executive cognitive strategies are not accounted for in formal operational thought.
8. Adults need to be able to identify, through critical thinking, the assumptions that underlie ideas or system of ideas. Critical thinking calls for the use of cognitive processes allowing one to think about or operate on formal thoughts. In every previous stage of cognitive development, similar shifts in ability are perceived as the beginning of a new stage of development.
9. Adults need to be able to deal with paradoxical situations. Doubt, ambiguity, uncertainty, systems thinking, and self-reflective thought tend to give rise to paradoxes. It is reasonable to assume, therefore, that post-formal operational thought must allow the adult to develop strategies for dealing with paradox. A paradox is a conundrum raised when a rule, command, or generalization appears to contradict itself. “All generalizations are false,” “this statement is false,” and “be spontaneous” are examples of paradoxical statements. A paradox can only be resolved by moving outside the frame of reference (or personal model of reality) that contains it, and beyond the cognitive strategies that are creating it. This requires shifting into a new frame of reference and using new cognitive strategies. This type of learning is called perspective transformation (Mackeracher, 2004).
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