Infant Development: Ecological Perspectives

By Hiram E.Fitzgerald; Katherine Hildebrandt Karraker et al. | Go to book overview

Preface

The 1990s were designated by the American Psychological Association as the decade of the brain and intense research during the decade brought to fruition remarkable discoveries related to synaptogenesis, neural network formation, neurotransmitter action, bioregulation, and linkages between brain structure and function. From our perspective, equally remarkable findings to emerge from the decade of the brain involve the extent to which development of the brain and nervous system was found to be bound to the environments in which development takes place. Indeed, the synergy from such intensive studies spilled over into the public domain and, seemingly for the very first time, the general public began to realize that caregiving and education really were connected to brain development.

In many respects, the twentieth century could bear the title of “the century of the baby.” Never before in the history of the human species was there such a span of time in which so much attention was given to the first five years of human life. Early in the century, psychoanalytic theorists (Sigmund Freud, Erik Erikson), cognitive developmentalists (Jean Piaget), behaviorists (John Watson), and maturationists (Arnold Gesell) focused attention on the importance of the first three years of life for setting foundations for subsequent development. During the 1920s and 1930s, investigators began to establish major research laboratories to study the basic sensory, perceptual, motor, and learning abilities of infants and toddlers. Such investigations led to development of formal examinations that could be used to compare infants and toddlers against normative standards. A paradigmatic shift in Western psychology took place during the 1950s and 1960s, with the result that the tabula rasa infant became the competent infant.

Investigators, liberated from restrictive mechanistic models of behavior, enthusiastically embraced organismic theories and challenged infants as never before to reveal the secrets of their early postnatal development. The shift from mechanistic to organismic paradigms paved the way for the

-vii-

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Infant Development: Ecological Perspectives
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Pathways to Developmental Outcomes in Preterm Infants 1
  • References 25
  • Infant Attention and the Development of Cognition 33
  • References 56
  • Nutrition 61
  • References 78
  • Ecological Influences on Mother-Infant Relationships 81
  • References 108
  • Understanding the Caregiving Practices of Adolescent Mothers 115
  • References 137
  • Daycare and Maternal Employment in the 21st Century 143
  • References 161
  • Infants’ Characteristics and Behaviors Help Shape Their Environments 165
  • References 186
  • Widening the Lens 193
  • References 217
  • Origins of Addictive Behavior 221
  • References 243
  • The Effects of Exposure to Violence on Infants 253
  • References 269
  • Early Childhood Interventions 273
  • References 290
  • Relationships at Risk 295
  • References 313
  • Subject Index 326
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