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The Interactional InstinctThe Evolution and Acquisition of Language$
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Namhee Lee, Lisa Mikesell, Anna Dina L. Joaquin, Andrea W. Mates, and John H. Schumann

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195384246

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195384246.001.0001

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A Neurobiology for the Interactional Instinct

A Neurobiology for the Interactional Instinct

(p.151) 5 A Neurobiology for the Interactional Instinct
The Interactional Instinct

Namhee Lee

Lisa Mikesell

Anna Dina L. Joaquin

Andrea W. Mates

John H. Schumann

Oxford University Press

The interactional instinct consists of an appetitive and a consummatory component. The biology underlying consummation develops first and involves the expression of endogenous opiates during child‐caregiver interaction. These opiates provide the child and the adult with feelings of attachment. This process entrains the child's attentional mechanisms on the caregivers and serves as a motivational mechanism that ensures language acquisition. The rewarding aspects of the attachment bond become part of the child's memory. The child, in encountering conspecifics more distal than immediate caregivers, responds to affiliative stimuli, such as friendly vocalizations, gestures, smiles, and touch, with positive appraisals and a desire to approach. The appraisals are communicated via the medial orbital cortex, with contextual information coming from the hippocampus and the amygdala. Dopaminergic innervation of the nucleus accumbens facilitates the integration of these various inputs and provides a “go” signal for motoric and cognitive approach and exploration of the affiliative target.

Keywords:   interactional instinct, appetitive, consummatory, child‐caregiver interaction, opiates, language acquisition, medial orbital cortex, hippocampus, dopamine, nucleus accumbens

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