Infant‐Caregiver Interaction and the Ubiquity of Language Acquisition
The interactional instinct is an innate drive within human infants to attune to, imitate, and interact with conspecifics. It is a powerful developmental precursor for the ontogeny of symbolic formation and referencing in humans and therefore the acquisition of language. Because of interaction's sociostatic value, the interactional instinct essentially motivates infants to achieve attachment and social affiliation with their caregivers. Once attachment and affiliation are achieved, the infant will continue to engage in emotional interactions with an adult, leading to the emotional entrainment of behaviors, words, and linguistic structure in their social environment and attachment to caregivers who are the source of the language. In this chapter, human neonate behavior (vocalizations, gaze attunement, and body movements) with mothers and other caregivers are demonstrated to be behavioral manifestations of the interactional instinct and that it is facilitated and subserved by the brain's mirror‐neuron system.
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