IELTS Academic Reading Practice 48

 
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This reading practice simulates one part of the IELTS Academic Reading test. You should spend about twenty minutes on it. Read the passage and answer questions 27-36.

Questions 27-29

Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.

Write your answers in boxes 27-29 on your answer sheet.

27 Researchers use indirect methods primarily to observe the ….

28 Which of the following is NOT mentioned as a problem in using the technique of direct  observation?

29 Which of the following leads to the conclusion that infants are able to differentiate between stimuli in a habituation-dishabituation study?

Questions 30-36

Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage? In boxes 30-36 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE   if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE   if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN   if there is no information on this

30. The focus of early research methods in child development have been similar to those conducted more recently.
31. Piaget showed that each new stage of learning builds upon the previous one.
32. Researchers using observational assessment techniques on infants must base their conclusions on data from many studies.
33. When researchers fail to make generalizations from their studies, their observed data is often inconclusive.
34. Different areas of an infant's brain respond to different types of stimuli.
35. Observational assessment is less useful for studying infant perception than researchers previously believed.
36. A neonate is able to perceive stimuli better than researchers once thought.

Answer Sheet
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26
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27
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30
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31
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Studying Infant Perception

A It was once commonly thought that infants lack the ability to form complex ideas. For much of the 20th century, most psychologists accepted the traditional thesis that a newborn’s mind is a blank slate (tabula rasa) on which the record of experience is gradually impressed. It was further thought that language is an obvious prerequisite for abstract thought and that, in its absence, a baby could not have knowledge. Until recently, there was no obvious way for them to demonstrate otherwise. But challenges to this view arose. Armed with new methodologies, psychologists began to accumulate a substantial body of data about the remarkable abilities that young children possess that stands in stark contrast to the older emphases on what they lacked. It is now known that very young children are competent, active agents of their own conceptual development.

B A major move away from the earlier tabula rasa view of the infant mind was taken by the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget. From close observations of infants and careful questioning of children, he concluded that the development of the mind proceeds through certain stages, each involving radically different thinking processes. Piaget observed that infants actually seek stimulation from their surroundings thus promoting their intellectual development. He showed that their initial representations of such things as space and time as well as awareness of objects and self are constructed only gradually during the first 2 years. He concluded that understanding in young infants is built up through the gradual coordination of sight, sound and touch.

C After Piaget, perceptual learning theorists studied how newborns begin to integrate sight and sound and explore their surroundings. They saw that learning in infants proceeded rapidly when they were given the opportunity to explore the objects and events they encountered. Theories were developed which attempted to describe how the brain processes information. It was around this time that the metaphor of the mind as computer came into wide usage.

D In the study of perceptual abilities of infants, a number of techniques are used to determine infants' responses to various stimuli. Because they cannot verbalize or fill out questionnaires, indirect techniques of naturalistic observation are used as the primary means of determining what infants can see, hear, feel, and so forth. Each of these methods compares an infant's state prior to the introduction of a stimulus with its state during or immediately following the stimulus. The difference between the two measures provides the researcher with an indication of the level and duration of the response to the stimulus. For example, if a uniformly moving pattern of some sort is passed across the visual field of a neonate (newborn), repetitive following movements of the eye occur. The occurrence of these eye movements provides evidence that the moving pattern is perceived at some level by the newborn.

E Such techniques, however, have limitations. First, the observation may be unreliable in that two or more observers may not agree that the particular response occurred, or to what degree it occurred. Second, responses are difficult to quantify. Often the rapid and diffuse movements of the infant make it difficult to get an accurate record of the number of responses. The third, and most potent, limitation is that it is not possible to be certain that the infant's response was due to the stimulus presented or to a change from no stimulus to a stimulus. The infant may be responding to aspects of the stimulus different than those identified by the investigator. Therefore, when observational assessment is used as a technique for studying infant perceptual abilities, care must be taken not to overgeneralize from the data or to rely on one or two studies as conclusive evidence of a particular perceptual ability of the infant.

F Observational assessment techniques have become much more sophisticated, reducing the limitations just presented. Film analysis of the infant's responses, heart and respiration rate monitors, and nonnutritive sucking devices are used as effective tools in understanding infant perception. Film analysis permits researchers to carefully study the infant's responses over and over and in slow motion.   Precise measurements can be made of the length and frequency of the infant's attention between two stimuli. Heart and respiration monitors provide the investigator with the number of heartbeats or breaths taken when a new stimulus is presented. Numerical increases are used as quantifiable indicators of heightened interest in the new stimulus. Increases in nonnutritive sucking were first used as an assessment measure by researchers in 1969. They devised an apparatus that connected a baby's pacifier to acounting device. As stimuli were presented, changes in the infant's sucking behavior were recorded. Increases in the number of sucks were used as an indicator of the infant's attention to or preference for a given visual display.

G Two additional techniques of studying infant perception have come into vogue. The first is the habituation-dishabituation technique, in which a single stimulus is presented repeatedly to the infant until there is a measurable decline (habituation) in whatever attending behavior is being observed. At that point a new stimulus is presented, and any recovery (dishabituation) in responsiveness is recorded. If the infant fails to dishabituate and continues to show habituation with the new stimulus, it is assumed that the baby is unable to perceive the new stimulus as different. The habituation-dishabituation paradigm has been used most extensively with studies of auditory and olfactory perception in infants. The second technique relies on evoked potentials, which are electrical brain responses that may be related to a particular stimulus because of where they originate. Changes in the electrical pattern of the brain indicate that the stimulus is getting through to the infant's central nervous system and eliciting some form of response.

H Each of the preceding techniques provides the researcher with evidence that the infant can detector discriminate between stimuli. With these sophisticated observational assessment and electro-physiological measures, we know that the neonate of only a few days is far more perceptive than previously suspected. However, these measures are only "indirect" indicators of the infant's perceptual abilities.

Reading Passage Vocabulary
Studying Infant Perception

A It was once commonly thought that infants lack the ability to form complex ideas. For much of the 20th century, most psychologists accepted the traditional thesis that a newborn’s mind is a blank slate (tabula rasa) on which the record of experience is gradually impressed. It was further thought that language is an obvious prerequisite for abstract thought and that, in its absence, a baby could not have knowledge. Until recently, there was no obvious way for them to demonstrate otherwise. But challenges to this view arose. Armed with new methodologies, psychologists began to accumulate a substantial body of data about the remarkable abilities that young children possess that stands in stark contrast to the older emphases on what they lacked. It is now known that very young children are competent, active agents of their own conceptual development.

B A major move away from the earlier tabula rasa view of the infant mind was taken by the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget. From close observations of infants and careful questioning of children, he concluded that the development of the mind proceeds through certain stages, each involving radically different thinking processes. Piaget observed that infants actually seek stimulation from their surroundings thus promoting their intellectual development. He showed that their initial representations of such things as space and time as well as awareness of objects and self are constructed only gradually during the first 2 years. He concluded that understanding in young infants is built up through the gradual coordination of sight, sound and touch.

C After Piaget, perceptual learning theorists studied how newborns begin to integrate sight and sound and explore their surroundings. They saw that learning in infants proceeded rapidly when they were given the opportunity to explore the objects and events they encountered. Theories were developed which attempted to describe how the brain processes information. It was around this time that the metaphor of the mind as computer came into wide usage.

D In the study of perceptual abilities of infants, a number of techniques are used to determine infants' responses to various stimuli. Because they cannot verbalize or fill out questionnaires, indirect techniques of naturalistic observation are used as the primary means of determining what infants can see, hear, feel, and so forth. Each of these methods compares an infant's state prior to the introduction of a stimulus with its state during or immediately following the stimulus. The difference between the two measures provides the researcher with an indication of the level and duration of the response to the stimulus. For example, if a uniformly moving pattern of some sort is passed across the visual field of a neonate (newborn), repetitive following movements of the eye occur. The occurrence of these eye movements provides evidence that the moving pattern is perceived at some level by the newborn.

E Such techniques, however, have limitations. First, the observation may be unreliable in that two or more observers may not agree that the particular response occurred, or to what degree it occurred. Second, responses are difficult to quantify. Often the rapid and diffuse movements of the infant make it difficult to get an accurate record of the number of responses. The third, and most potent, limitation is that it is not possible to be certain that the infant's response was due to the stimulus presented or to a change from no stimulus to a stimulus. The infant may be responding to aspects of the stimulus different than those identified by the investigator. Therefore, when observational assessment is used as a technique for studying infant perceptual abilities, care must be taken not to overgeneralize from the data or to rely on one or two studies as conclusive evidence of a particular perceptual ability of the infant.

F Observational assessment techniques have become much more sophisticated, reducing the limitations just presented. Film analysis of the infant's responses, heart and respiration rate monitors, and nonnutritive sucking devices are used as effective tools in understanding infant perception. Film analysis permits researchers to carefully study the infant's responses over and over and in slow motion.   Precise measurements can be made of the length and frequency of the infant's attention between two stimuli. Heart and respiration monitors provide the investigator with the number of heartbeats or breaths taken when a new stimulus is presented. Numerical increases are used as quantifiable indicators of heightened interest in the new stimulus. Increases in nonnutritive sucking were first used as an assessment measure by researchers in 1969. They devised an apparatus that connected a baby's pacifier to acounting device. As stimuli were presented, changes in the infant's sucking behavior were recorded. Increases in the number of sucks were used as an indicator of the infant's attention to or preference for a given visual display.

G Two additional techniques of studying infant perception have come into vogue. The first is the habituation-dishabituation technique, in which a single stimulus is presented repeatedly to the infant until there is a measurable decline (habituation) in whatever attending behavior is being observed. At that point a new stimulus is presented, and any recovery (dishabituation) in responsiveness is recorded. If the infant fails to dishabituate and continues to show habituation with the new stimulus, it is assumed that the baby is unable to perceive the new stimulus as different. The habituation-dishabituation paradigm has been used most extensively with studies of auditory and olfactory perception in infants. The second technique relies on evoked potentials, which are electrical brain responses that may be related to a particular stimulus because of where they originate. Changes in the electrical pattern of the brain indicate that the stimulus is getting through to the infant's central nervous system and eliciting some form of response.

H Each of the preceding techniques provides the researcher with evidence that the infant can detector discriminate between stimuli. With these sophisticated observational assessment and electro-physiological measures, we know that the neonate of only a few days is far more perceptive than previously suspected. However, these measures are only "indirect" indicators of the infant's perceptual abilities.

 
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