Mixing Memory

Tomasello on Infant Pointing

Those of you who are interested in Michael Tomasello’s work as a follow up to his book The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition may be interested in his new paper with Malinda Carpenter and Ulf Liszkowski, “A New Look at Infant Pointing“. The abstract:

We propose a new theory of infant pointing involving multiple layers of intentionality and shared intentionality. In the context of this theory, we argue and present evidence for a rich interpretation of prelinguistic communication, that is, one which posits that when 12-month-old infants point for an adult they are in some sense trying to influence her intentional/mental states. Moreover, we also argue and present evidence for a deeply social view in which infant pointing is best understood – on many levels and in many ways – as depending on uniquely human skills and motivations for co-operation and shared intentionality (e.g., joint intentions and attention with others). We conclude with a defense of the claim that children’s initial skills of linguistic communication emerge on the heels of their initial pointing gestures because these two forms of interpersonal communication share a common social-cognitive, social-motivational infrastructure.


  1. #1 Clark
    June 13, 2007

    We ought do an other reading club one of these days. After Tomasello I’ve actually tried to pick up one cognitive science or quasi cognitive science book every time I do an Amazon order.

  2. #2 Chris
    June 13, 2007

    Hey Clark, that’s probably a good idea, especially since there are more cog sci people around the blogosphere these days. And the summer is a good time to do it. I’ll post something later this week to see if I can get others in cog sci to help (it was a lot of work last time!), and maybe we can each pick a week or chapter or however we decide to do it.

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