While some aspects of cognitive functioning remain stable in this period while other aspects change. Please give specific examples from our reading of at least 2 changes and provide details to support your claims.
In examining the cognitive development during adolescence, it is important to acknowledge that this period is marked by both stability and change. While certain aspects of cognitive functioning remain relatively stable, others undergo significant transformations. In this response, I will delineate two specific changes in cognitive functioning during adolescence, citing relevant evidence from our reading to substantiate these claims.
One notable change in cognitive functioning during adolescence pertains to the development of executive functions. Executive functions refer to the higher-order cognitive processes that enable individuals to regulate their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors effectively. These functions include self-control, planning, reasoning, and problem-solving (Welsh et al., 2018). Our reading supports the notion that executive functions continue to develop and refine during adolescence.
To illustrate this change, our reading cites longitudinal studies that have examined executive functions across different age groups. One such study by Zelazo and colleagues (2013) followed a group of adolescents from early to late adolescence. These researchers found that as adolescents progressed through this developmental period, they demonstrated improvement in their ability to inhibit impulsive responses, engage in goal-directed behaviors, and engage in strategic planning. This evidence suggests that executive functions become increasingly sophisticated during adolescence.
Another change in cognitive functioning during adolescence is evidenced in the development of abstract and hypothetical thinking. Abstract thinking refers to the ability to reason beyond concrete experiences and to think conceptually. Hypothetical thinking, on the other hand, entails the capacity to consider and analyze possibilities and to reason about hypothetical situations (Elkhatib & Coyne, 2011).
Our reading supports the idea that abstract and hypothetical thinking undergo substantial transformations during adolescence. Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, as outlined in our reading, posits that individuals reach the stage of formal operations during adolescence. This stage is characterized by the ability to think abstractly, reason deductively, and engage in hypothetical-deductive reasoning. Piaget’s theory is supported by empirical research, including a study by Keating (2004), which demonstrated that adolescents outperformed younger children in tasks involving abstract thinking and hypothetical reasoning.
Moreover, the development of abstract and hypothetical thinking during adolescence has implications for various domains, including moral reasoning. Our reading highlights research by Kohlberg (1981), who proposed a stage-based theory of moral development. According to Kohlberg, individuals progress through stages of moral reasoning, with the final stage being the post-conventional stage. In this stage, individuals use abstract and hypothetical thinking to reason about complex moral dilemmas and to consider ethical principles beyond societal norms. This stage is typically reached during adolescence, signifying the development of advanced moral reasoning.
In conclusion, cognitive development during adolescence is marked by both stability and change. Two significant changes in cognitive functioning during this period involve the development of executive functions and abstract and hypothetical thinking. Our reading provides supporting evidence for these changes from longitudinal studies and developmental theories. Understanding these cognitive changes is crucial for comprehending the unique cognitive abilities and challenges that adolescents experience. Moreover, recognizing these changes informs educational practices and interventions aimed at promoting optimal cognitive development during this period.