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Cognitive Development and Decline


Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky’s developmental theories offer us two frameworks for understanding our cognitive processing as we age. Aspects of cognition, such as information processing, attention, or memory can be different in childhood as compared to senior adulthood.

To prepare for this Discussion, review this week’s Learning Resources. Consider what Piaget and Vygotsky had to say in their theories of cognitive development.

By Day 3, post a comprehensive response to the following:


  • How do the patterns of cognitive development, observed throughout childhood, contrast with those seen in advanced aging?

  • Is cognitive decline inevitable with aging?

  • What are some strategies for maintaining and/or enhancing cognition in advanced age?





Video: Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Aging across the lifespan: Cognitive development [Video file]. Retrieved from

Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 33 minutes.

In this week’s media, presenters Dr. Nina Lyon-Bennett and Dr. John C. Cavanaugh discuss: the development of a sense of self; motor development and Piaget’s four stages of cognitive development; theorist Lev Vygotsky and the impact of culture on cognitive development; the differences in information processing between adolescents and adults; practical intelligence; lifelong learning; and physiology and cognition as we get older, including memory issues and information processing.




  • Course Text:   Kail, R. V., & Cavanaugh, J. C. (2016). Human development: A life-span view. (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.  
    • Chapter 4, “The Emergence of Thought and Language: Cognitive Development in Infancy and Early Childhood”
    • Chapter 6, “Off to School: Cognitive and Physical Development in Middle Childhood”
      • Section 6.1, “Cognitive Development”
    • Chapter 8, “Rites of Passage: Physical and Cognitive Development in Adolescence”
      • Section 8.3, “Information Processing During Adolescence”
    • Chapter 10, “Becoming an Adult: Physical, Cognitive, and Personality Development in Young Adulthood”
      • Section 10.3, “Cognitive Development”
    • Chapter 13,  “Making It in Midlife: The Biopsychosocial Challenges of Middle Adulthood”
      • Section 13.2, “Cognitive Development”
    • Chapter 14, “The Personal Context of Later Life: Physical, Cognitive, and Mental Health Issues”
      • Section 14.3, “Cognitive Processes”


    • What makes an individual? While it could be argued that it is one’s physiological appearance or how one interacts with others, it is cognition—the mental processes of active acquisition of knowledge and comprehension—that, in many ways, defines who we are. The brain’s higher-level functions encompass language, imagination, perception and planning; shaping our outlook on life and our approach to others. In this week’s textbook reading, you will examine elements of cognition such as: thinking, knowing, remembering, judging, and problem-solving across the lifespan.



Optional Resources












The Impact of Device Design on Work Flow

To prepare for this Discussion, search the Internet for an example of a mobile device that a health practitioner uses in tasks associated with his/her job.

By Day 4, post a comprehensive response to the following:


  • Briefly describe the device and its purpose.
  • What are positive outcomes from using this device?
  • What are negative outcomes from using this device?
  • Should the organization mandate the use of this device? What could happen if the practitioner refused?
  • How could you convince the health practitioner that this is a useful device that could positively impact patient care?





Video: Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Health informatics: Workflow redesign and human factors [Video file]. Retrieved from




  • Topical Study Guide
  • Piechowski, R. (March/April 2006). Making CPOE Work: Redesign Workflows to Optimize Benefits. Patient Safety and Quality Healthcare. Retrieved at:
  • Karsh, B., Weinger, M., Abbott, P., & Wears, R. (2010). Health information technology: fallacies and sober realities. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association: JAMIA, 17(6), 617–623.
  • Norris, B. (2009). Human factors and safe patient care. Journal of Nursing Management, 17(2), 203–2 11.
  • Erickson, L., & Lyon, T. (2008). How to fix a flawed process: The four rules of work design. Family Practice Management, 15(6), 29–33.
  • Elrod, J., & Androwich, I. (2009). Applying human factors analysis to the design of the electronic health record. Studies in Health Technology and Informatics, 146, 132-6.
  • Green, M. (2009). Medical equipment: Good design or bad design? Retrieved from
  • Carayon, P. (2010). Human factors in patient safety as an innovation. Applied Ergonomics, 41(5), 657-665.
  • Agarwal, R., Khuntia, J. (2009). Personal Health Information and the Design of Consumer Health Information Technology: Background Report. (Prepared by Insight Policy Research under Contract No. HHSA290200710072T. AHRQ Publication No. 09-0075-EF. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. June 2009.) Pages 1–31 and 54–80. Retrieved from
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. (2009, December 4). Glossary of Health-IT Terms.

  • Wilkins, M. A. (2009). Factors influencing acceptance of electronic health records in hospitals. Perspectives in Health Information Management, (Fall 2009), 1–20.


Optional Resources










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