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Infancy and Childhood

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The Adventures of Captain Oblivious
Teacher Contributed

The Adventures of Captain Oblivious

You Hurt My Feelings! Huh?

Even if you don't have any younger brothers or sisters, you may have run into younger people at the store or school or around town. Sometimes you will encounter these youngsters, and they will be running or laughing or doing who knows what, completely oblivious to people around them. Did you ever wonder how they manage be so oblivious at times? Maybe you know someone younger who just says mean things and somehow doesn't seem to understand they are mean. Even at a young age, some people would call them bad or thoughtless or heartless. Researchers looking into how the brain changes over time have found out that, of those three words, "thoughtless" may be closest to the truth. They've also found out that maybe it isn't all the thoughtless individual's fault.

Extension Investigation

Use the resources below to answer the following questions:

  1. What is social cognition? Do you think it is important to human survival? Why or why not? Be as specific in your reasoning as possible and consider multiple scenarios.
  2. Are you surprised by evidence that younger children cannot distinguish between facts and thoughts? Do you believe the evidence? Why or why not?
  3. Think about some time when a younger person annoyed you, and you didn't respond as well as you would have wished. Would you have responded differently if you had known the youngster's brain was less developed than yours? Would you have been old enough yourself to have thought about how developed his or her brain was?
  4. What do researchers hope to learn by identifying areas of the brain associated with social cognition? Do you think this is a valuable area to research? Why or why not?

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