Infants' Understanding of the Actions Involved in Joint Attention
This chapter considers infants' understanding that acts of attention — looking and pointing — as object-directed, that is, as implying a relation between the agent who produces them and the object at which they are directed. Sensitivity to the object-directed structure of these actions provides an essential framework for understanding the phenomenological, psychological, and behavioural implications of these actions. The evidence reviewed indicates that although young infants sometimes orient appropriately in response to others' gaze shifts and points, they seem not to understand these actions as object-directed until late in the first year of life. Findings of relatively early success at orienting but later success in action understanding raise questions about the mechanisms by which action understanding emerges, and these are considered at the end of the chapter.
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