Publications of Gergely, Gy.

Pointing as epistemic request: 12-month-olds point to receive new information

Infants start pointing systematically to objects or events around their first birthday. It has been proposed that infants point to an event in order to share their appreciation of it with others. In the current study, we tested another hypothesis, according to which infants' pointing could also serve as an epistemic request directed to the adult. Thus, infants' motivation for pointing could include the expectation that adults would provide new information about the referent. In two experiments, an adult reacted to 12-month-olds’ pointing gestures by exhibiting 'informing' or 'sharing' behavior. In response, infants pointed more frequently across trials in the informing than in the sharing condition. This suggests that the feedback that contained new information matched infants' expectations more than mere attention sharing. Such a result is consistent with the idea that not just the comprehension but also the production of early communicative signals is tuned to assist infants' learning from others.

Gergely G, Csibra G. Natural pedagogy. In: Banaji MR, Gelman SA, editors. Navigating the Social World: What Infants, Chidren, and Other Species Can Teach Us. Oxford University Press; 2013. p. 127-32.

Natural pedagogy

This chapter proposes that the mechanism of natural pedagogy is ostensive communication, which incorporates evolved interpretive biases that allow and foster the transmission of generic and culturally shared knowledge to others. Such communication is not necessarily linguistic but always referential. There is extensive evidence that infants and children are especially sensitive to being communicatively addressed by adults, and that even newborns attend to and show preference for ostensive signals, such as eye contact, infant-directed speech, or infant-induced contingent reactivity. Such ostensive cues generate referential expectations in infants, triggering a tendency to gaze-follow the other's subsequent orientation responses (such as gaze-shifts) to their referential target, which may contribute to learning about referential signals such as deictic gestures and words. The chapter also addresses some of the most frequently asked questions about natural pedagogy in order to resolve some typical misunderstandings about what is and what is not claimed by the theory.

Csibra G, Gergely G. Teleological understanding of actions. In: Banaji MR, Gelman SA, editors. Navigating the Social World: What Infants, Chidren, and Other Species Can Teach Us. Oxford University Press; 2013. p. 38-43.

Teleological understanding of actions

An observed behavior is interpreted as an action directed to a particular end state if it is judged to be the most efficient means available to the agent for achieving this goal in the given environment. When such an interpretation is established, it creates a teleological representation of the action, which is held together by the principle of efficiency. The paradigmatic situation in which the functioning of teleological interpretation can be tested is when one observes a behavior (e.g., an agent jumps into the air while moving in a certain direction) leading to an end state (e.g., the agent stops next to another object). If, and only if, the behavior (jumping) is justified by environmental factors (by the presence of a barrier over which the jumping occurs) will this behavior be interpreted as a means action to achieve the end state as the goal of the action (to get in contact with the other object). Researchers have published extensive evidence that infants from at least six months of age form this kind of teleological representations of actions. This chapter attempts to clarify commonly raised issues about this theory in a question-and-answer format.

Beyond rational imitation: Learning arbitrary means actions from communicative demonstrations

The principle of rationality has been invoked to explain that infants expect agents to perform the most efficient means action to attain a goal. It has also been demonstrated that infants take into account the efficiency of observed actions to achieve a goal outcome when deciding whether to re-enact a specific behavior or not. Puzzlingly, however, they also tend to imitate an apparently suboptimal unfamiliar action even when they can bring about the same outcome more efficiently by applying a more rational action alternative available to them. We propose that this apparently paradoxical behavior is explained by infants' interpretation of action demonstrations as communicative manifestations of novel and culturally relevant means actions to be acquired, and present empirical evidence supporting this proposal. In Experiment 1, we found that 14-month-old infants re-enacted novel arbitrary means actions only following a communicative demonstration. Experiment 2 showed that infants inclination to reproduce communicatively manifested novel actions is restricted to behaviors they can construe as goal-directed instrumental acts. The study also provides evidence that their re-enactment of the demonstrated novel actions reflects epistemic rather than purely social motives. We argue that ostensive communication enables infants to represent the teleological structure of novel actions even when the causal relations between means and end are cognitively opaque and apparently violate the efficiency expectation derived from the principle of rationality. This new account of imitative learning of novel means shows how the teleological stance and natural pedagogy – two separate cognitive adaptations to interpret instrumental vs. communicative actions – are integrated as a system for learning socially constituted instrumental knowledge in humans.

Natural pedagogy as evolutionary adaptation

We propose that the cognitive mechanisms that enable the transmission of cultural knowledge by communication between individuals constitute a system of 'natural pedagogy' in humans, and represent an evolutionary adaptation along the hominin lineage. We discuss three kinds of arguments that support this hypothesis. First, natural pedagogy is likely to be human-specific: while social learning and communication are both widespread in non-human animals, we know of no example of social learning by communication in any other species apart from humans. Second, natural pedagogy is universal: despite the huge variability in child-rearing practices, all human cultures rely on communication to transmit to novices a variety of different types of cultural knowledge, including information about artefact kinds, conventional behaviours, arbitrary referential symbols, cognitively opaque skills, and know-how embedded in means-end actions. Third, the data available on early hominin technological culture are more compatible with the assumption that natural pedagogy was an independently selected adaptive cognitive system than considering it as a by-product of some other human-specific adaptation, such as language. By providing a qualitatively new type of social learning mechanism, natural pedagogy is not only the product but also one of the sources of the rich cultural heritage of our species.

Automated gaze-contingent objects elicit orientation following in 8-month-old infants

The current study tested whether the purely amodal cue of contingency elicit orientation following behaviour in 8-months-old infants. We presented 8-month-old infants with automated objects without human features that did or did not react contingently to the infants' fixations recorded by an eye-tracker. We found that an object's occasional orientation towards peripheral targets was reciprocated by a congruent visual orientation following response by infants only when it had displayed gaze-contingent interactivity. Our finding demonstrates that infants' gaze following behaviour does not depend on the presence of a human being. The results are consistent with the idea that the detection of contingent reactivity, like other communicative signals, can itself elicit the illusion of being addressed in 8-months-old infants.

Gergely G. Kinds of agents: The origins of understanding instrumental and communicative agency. In: Goshwami U, editor. Blackwell Handbook of Childhood Cognitive Development. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers; 2010.

Communicative function demonstration induces kind-based artifact representation in preverbal infants

Human infants grow up in environments populated by artifacts. In order to acquire knowledge about different kinds of human-made objects, children have to be able to focus on the information that is most relevant for sorting artifacts into categories. Traditional theories emphasize the role of superficial, perceptual features in object categorization. In the case of artifacts, however, it is possible that abstract, non-obvious properties, like functions, may form the basis of artifact kind representations from an early age. Using an object individuation paradigm we addressed the question whether non-verbal communicative demonstration of the functional use of artifacts makes young infants represent such objects in terms of their kinds. When two different functions were sequentially demonstrated on two novel objects as they emerged one-by-one from behind a screen, 10-month-old infants inferred the presence of two objects behind the occluder. We further show that both the presence of communicative signals and causal intervention are necessary for 10-month-olds to generate such a numerical expectation. We also found that communicative demonstration of two different functions of a single artifact generated the illusion of the presence of two objects. This suggests that information on artifact function was used as an indicator of kind membership, and infants expected one specific function to define one specific artifact kind. Thus, contrary to previous accounts, preverbal infants' specific sensitivity to object function underlies, guides, and supports their learning about artifacts.

Southgate V, Gergely G, Csibra G. Does the mirror neuron system and its impairment explain human imitation and autism? In: Pineda JA, editor. Mirror Neuron Systems:The Role of Mirroring Processes in Social Cognition. Berlin: Springer; 2009. p. 331-54.

Does the mirror neuron system and its impairment explain human imitation and autism?

The proposal that the understanding and imitation of observed actions is made possible through the ‘mirror neuron system’ (Rizzolatti, Fogassi & Gallese, 2001) has led to much speculation that a dysfunctional mirror system may be at the root of the social deficits characteristic of autism (e.g. Ramachandran & Oberman, 2006). This chapter will critically examine the hypothesis that those with ASD may be in possession of a 'broken' mirror neuron system (MNS) and propose that the deficits seen in imitation in individuals with ASD reflect not a dysfunctional MNS, but a lack of sensitivity to those cues that would help them identify what to imitate. In doing this, we will also argue that imitation in typically developing children cannot be explained by appealing to a direct-matching mechanism, and that the process by which young children imitate involves a far more complex but effortless analysis of the communication of those who they learn from.

Natural pedagogy

We propose that human communication is specifically adapted to allow the transmission of generic knowledge between individuals. Such a communication system, which we call 'natural pedagogy', enables fast and efficient social learning of cognitively opaque cultural knowledge that would be hard to acquire relying on purely observational learning mechanisms alone. We argue that human infants are prepared to be at the receptive side of natural pedagogy (i) by being sensitive to ostensive signals that indicate that they are being addressed by communication, (ii) by developing referential expectations in ostensive contexts and (iii) by being biased to interpret ostensive-referential communication as conveying information that is kind-relevant and generalizable.

Response to Comment on “Infants’ Perseverative Search Errors Are Induced by Pragmatic Misinterpretation

Spencer et al. argue that infants’ perseverative search errors cannot be ascribed to an interpretive bias induced by communicative cues as we proposed. We argue that their model leads to different predictions about infant behavior from those derived from natural pedagogy in certain situations and therefore fails to provide a viable alternative to ours.

Differential sensitivity to human communication in dogs, wolves and human infants

Ten-month-old infants search for a hidden object persistently at its initial hiding place even after observing it being hidden at another location. Recent evidence suggests that communicative cues from the experimenter contribute to the emergence of this perseverative search error. Here we replicate these results with dogs, who also commit more search errors in ostensive-communicative (in 75% of the total trials) than in non-communicative (39%) or non-social (17%) hiding contexts. However, comparative investigations suggest that communicative signals serve different functions for dogs and infants, while human-reared wolves do not show dog-like context-dependent differences of search errors. We propose that shared sensitivity to human communicative signals stems from convergent social evolution of the Homo and the Canis genera.

Gergely G, Unoka Z. The development of the unreflective self. In: Mentalization : theoretical considerations, research findings, and clinical implications. New York: Analytic Press; 2008. p. 57-102.
Gergely G, Unoka Z. Attachment, affect-regulation and mentalization. In: Mind to mind : infant research, neuroscience and psychoanalysis. New York: Other Press; 2008.

Infants' perseverative search errors are induced by pragmatic misinterpretation

Having repeatedly retrieved an object from a location, human infants tend to search the same place even when they observe the object being hidden at another location. This perseverative error is usually explained by infants’ inability to inhibit a previously rewarded search response or to recall the new location. We show that the tendency to commit this error is substantially reduced (from 81 to 41%) when the object is hidden in front of 10-month-old infants without the experimenter using the communicative cues that normally accompany object hiding in this task. We suggest that this improvement is due to an interpretive bias that normally helps infants learn from demonstrations but misleads themin the context of a hiding game. Our finding provides an alternative theoretical perspectiveon the nature of infants’ perseverative search errors.

Infants' perseverative errors are induced by pragmatic misinterpretation.

Having repeatedly retrieved an object from a location, human infants tend to search the same place even when they observe the object being hidden at another location. This perseverative error is usually explained by infants' inability to inhibit a previously rewarded search response or to recall the new location. We show that the tendency to commit this error is substantially reduced (from 81 to 41%) when the object is hidden in front of 10-month-old infants without the experimenter using the communicative cues that normally accompany object hiding in this task. We suggest that this improvement is due to an interpretive bias that normally helps infants learn from demonstrations but misleads them in the context of a hiding game. Our finding provides an alternative theoretical perspective on the nature of infants' perseverative search errors

Csibra G, Gergely G. Ember és kultúra. A kulturális tudás eredete és átadásának mechanizmusai. Vol 11. Budapest, Hungary: Akadémiai Kiadó; 2007. (Pszichológiai Szemle Könyvtár; vol 11).
Csibra G, Gergely G. Társas tanulás és társas megismerés. A pedagógia szerepe. In: Ember és kultúra : a kulturális tudás eredete és átadásának mechanizmusai. Vol 11. Budapest, Hungary, H: Akadémiai Kiadó; 2007. p. 5-30. (Pszichológiai Szemle Könyvtár; vol 11).
Gergely G. Mechanism of cultural learning: imitation, emulation and pedagogical knowledge transfer.. In: Intersubjectivity, metacognition and theory of mind. Workshop. Milano: ISU Università Cattolica; 2007. p. 23-70.
Gergely G. Learning 'about' versus learning 'from' other minds: Human pedagogy and its implications. In: Carruthers P, editor. The Innate Mind: Foundations and the Future. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2007. p. 170-99.

Learning 'about' versus learning 'from' other minds: Human pedagogy and its implications

This chapter characterizes the concept of cognitive opacity, outlines the nature of the learnability problem it represents for mechanisms of cultural learning, and speculates about its evolutionary origins. It argues that during hominid evolution, a new type of social learning system has been selected that is specialized to ensure efficient intergenerational transfer of cognitively opaque cultural contents from knowledgeable to naïve conspecifics. The design structure of this cue-driven cognitive adaptation of mutual design, called natural pedagogy, is then described. Pedagogy theory is contrasted with currently dominant alternative approaches to cultural learning that are based on simulation and identification processes by comparing how these respective models can account for recent evidence on early relevance-guided selective imitative learning, on the one hand, and on young infants' interpretation of others' referential emotion expressions in ostensive versus incidental observation contexts, on the other hand. It is argued that many early emerging social cognitive competences involving ostensive communicative interactions (such as imitative learning, social referencing, or protodeclarative pointing) are better accounted for in terms of the primarily epistemic functional perspective of natural pedagogy than in terms of human-specific primary social motives to identify with and imitate other humans, and share one's mental states with others, as hypothesized by the alternative simulation-based approaches. Finally, the implications of pedagogy theory for reconceptualizing the nature of the early development of understanding others as having separate minds with different knowledge contents are briefly explored.

'Obsessed with goals': Functions and mechanisms of teleological interpretation of actions in humans

Humans show a strong and early inclination to interpret observed behaviours of others as goal-directed actions. We identify two main epistemic functions that this 'teleological obsession' serves: on-line prediction and social learning. We show how teleological action interpretations can serve these functions by drawing on two kinds of inference ('action-to-goal' or 'goal-to-action'), and argue that both types of teleological inference constitute inverse problems that can only be solved by further assumptions. We pinpoint the assumptions that the three currently proposed mechanisms of goal attribution (action-effect associations, simulation procedures, and teleological reasoning) imply, and contrast them with the functions they are supposed to fulfil. We argue that while action-effect associations and simulation procedures are generally well suited to serve on-line action monitoring and prediction, social learning of new means actions and artefact functions requires the inferential productivity of teleological reasoning. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Investigating action understanding: Inferential processes versus action simulation.

In our daily life, we continuously monitor others' behaviors and interpret them in terms of goals, intentions, and reasons. Despite their central importance for predicting and interpreting each other's actions, the functional mechanisms and neural circuits involved in action understanding remain highly controversial [1, 2]. Two alternative accounts have been advanced. Simulation theory [3] assumes that we understand actions by simulating the observed behavior through a direct matching process that activates the mirror-neuron circuit [4]. The alternative interpretive account [5] assumes that action understanding is based on specialized inferential processes activating brain areas with no mirror properties [1]. Although both approaches recognize the central role of contextual information in specifying action intentions, their respective accounts of this process differ in significant respects [1, 5-7]. Here, we investigated the role of context in action understanding by using functional brain imaging while participants observed an unusual action in implausible versus plausible contexts. We show that brain areas that are part of a network involved in inferential interpretive processes of rationalization and mentalization but that lack mirror properties are more active when the action occurs in an implausible context. However, no differential activation was found in the mirror network. Our findings support the assumption that action understanding in novel situations is primarily mediated by an inferential interpretive system rather than the mirror system.

The role of effects for infants' perception of action goals.

Recent studies have demonstrated that 6-month-olds perceive manual actions as object-directed (Woodward, 1999) — and that 8-, but not 6-month-olds, apply this interpretation even to unfamiliar actions if these produce salient object-directed effects (Kiràly, Jovanovic, Prinz, Aschersleben, & Gergely, 2003). The present study had two objectives. First, we tested the alternative interpretation that action effects result in a general increase of attention by testing infants with an analogous paradigm, including however a non-human agent. Second, we investigated in how far the negative findings for the 6-month-olds reported in the study by Kiràly et al. (2003) might be due to the familiarity of the action or the discriminability of the objects involved. The results indicate that adding effects to both a familiar and an unfamiliar action leads even 6-month-olds to interpret the respective action as object-directed, given that the objects are well discriminable. However, infants do not apply such an interpretation to actions of a non-human agent.

The role of behavioral cues in understanding goal-directed actions in infancy

Infants show very early sensitivity to a variety of behavioral cues (such as self-propulsion,equifinal movement, free variability, and situational adjustment of behavior) that can be exploited when identifying, predicting, and interpreting goal-directed actions of intentional agents. We compare and contrast recent alternative models concerning the role that different types of behavioral cues play in human infants’ early understanding of animacy, agency, and intentional action. We present new experimental evidence from violation of expectation studies to evaluate these alternative models on the nature of early development of understanding goal-directedness by human infants. Our results support the view that, while infants initially do not restrict goal attribution to behaviors of agents exhibiting self-propelled motion, they quickly develop such expectations.

Csibra G, Gergely G. Social learning and social cognition: The case for pedagogy. In: Munakata Y, Johnson MH, editors. Processes of Change in Brain and Cognitive Development. Attention and Performance XXI. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2006. p. 249-74.

Social learning and social cognition: The case for pedagogy

We propose that humans are adapted to transfer knowledge to, and receive knowledge from, conspecifics by teaching. This adaptation, which we call 'pedagogy', involves the emergence of a special communication system that does not presuppose either language or high-level theory of mind, but could itself provide a basis for facilitating the development of these human-specific abilities both in phylogenetic and ontogenetic terms. We speculate that tool manufacturing and mediated tool use made the evolution of such a new social learning mechanism necessary. However, the main body of evidence supporting this hypothesis comes from developmental psychology. We argue that many central phenomena of human infant social cognition that may seem puzzling in the light of their standard functional explanation can be more coherently and plausibly interpreted as reflecting the adaptations to receive knowledge from social partners through teaching.

Gergely G, Csibra G. Sylvia's recipe: The role of imitation and pedagogy in the transmission of human culture. In: Enfield NJ, Levinson SC, editors. Roots of Human Sociality: Culture, Cognition, and Human Interaction. Oxford: Berg Publisher; 2006. p. 229-55.
Gergely G, Csibra G. A kulturális elme társadalmi konstruálása: az utánzásos tanulás mint humánpedagógiai mechanizmus. In: Gervain J, Kovács K, Lukács Á, Racsmány M, editors. Az ezerarcú elme. Tanulmányok Pléh Csaba 60. születésnapjára. Budapest, Hungary: Akadémiai Kiadó; 2005. p. 371-7.

A few reasons why we don't share Tomasello et al.s intuitions about sharing

Tomasello et al.'s two prerequisites, we argue, are not sufficient to explain the emergence of joint Collaboration. An adequate account must include the human-specific capacity to communicate relevant information (that may have initially evolved to ensure efficient cultural learning). This, together with understanding intentional actions, does provide sufficient preconditions for joint Collaboration without the need to postulate a primary human motive to share others' psychological states.

One-year-old infants use teleological representations of actions productively

Two experiments investigated whether infants represent goal-directed actions of others in a way that allows them to draw inferences to unobserved states of affairs (such as unseen goal states or occluded obstacles). We measured looking times to assess violation of infants' expectations upon perceiving either a change in the actions of computer-animated figures or in the context of such actions. The first experiment tested whether infants would attribute a goal to an action that they had not seen completed. The second experiment tested whether infants would infer from an observed action the presence of an occluded object that functions as an obstacle. The looking time patterns of 12-month-olds indicated that they were able to make both types of inferences, while 9-month-olds failed in both tasks. These results demonstrate that, by the end of the first year of life, infants use the principle of rational action not only for the interpretation and prediction of goal-directed actions, but also for making productive inferences about unseen aspects of their context. We discuss the underlying mechanisms that may be involved in the developmental change from 9 to 12 months of age in the ability to infer hypothetical (unseen) states of affairs in teleological action representations. (C) 2002 Cognitive Science Society, Inc. All rights reserved.

What should a robot learn from an infant? Mechanisms of action Interpretation and observational learning in infancy

This paper provides a summary of new results coming from developmental infancy research demonstrating preverbal infants' early competence in understanding and learning from the intentional actions of other agents. The reviewed studies (using violation-of-expectation and observational learning paradigms) provide converging evidence that by the end of the first year infants can interpret and draw systematic inferences about other agents' goal-directed actions, and can rely on such inferences in observational learning when imitating others' actions or emulating their goals. To account for these findings it is proposed that young infants possess a non-mentalistic action interpretational system, the 'teleological stance' (Gergely and Csibra 2003) that represents actions by relating three relevant aspects of reality (action, goal-state, and situational constraints) through the inferential 'principle of rational action', which assumes that: (a) the basic function of actions is to bring about future goalstates; and that (b) agents will always perform the most efficient means action available to them within the constraints of the given situation. The relevance of these research findings and theproposed theoretical model for how to realize the future goal of epigenetic robotics of building a'socially relevant' humanoid robot is then discussed.

Teleological reasoning in infancy: the naive theory of rational action

Converging evidence demonstrates that one-year-olds interpret and draw inferences about other's goal-directed actions. We contrast alternative theories about how this early competence relates to our ability to attribute mental states to others. We propose that one-year-olds apply a non-mentalistic interpretational system, the 'teleological stance' to represent actions by relating relevant aspects of reality (action, goal-state and situational constraints) through the principle of rational action, which assumes that actions function to realize goal-states by the most efficient means available. We argue that this early inferential principle is identical to the rationality principle of the mentalistic stance – a representational system that develops later to guide inferences about mental states.

The early origins of goal attribution in infancy

We contrast two positions concerning the initial domain of actions that infants interpret as goal-directed. The [`]narrow scope' view holds that goal-attribution in 6- and 9-month-olds is restricted to highly familiar actions (such as grasping) ([Woodward et al., 2001]). The cue-based approach of the infant's [`]teleological stance' ( [Gergely and Csibra, 2003]), however, predicts that if the cues of equifinal variation of action and a salient action effect are present, young infants can attribute goals to a [`]wide scope' of entities including unfamiliar human actions and actions of novel objects lacking human features. It is argued that previous failures to show goal-attribution to unfamiliar actions were due to the absence of these cues. We report a modified replication of [Woodward, 1999] showing that when a salient action-effect is presented, even young infants can attribute a goal to an unfamiliar manual action. This study together with other recent experiments reviewed support the [`]wide scope' approach indicating that if the cues of goal-directedness are present even 6-month-olds attribute goals to unfamiliar actions.

Affect regulation, mentalization, and the development of the self

Introduction -- pt. 1. Theoretical perspectives: Attachment and reflective function : their role in self-organization ; Historical and interdisciplinary perspectives on affects and affect regulation ; The behavior geneticist's challenge to a psychosocial model of the development of mentalization -- pt. 2. Developmental perspectives: The social biofeedback theory of affect-mirroring : the development of emotional self-awareness and self-control in infancy ; The development of an understanding of self and agency ; "Playing with feality" : developmental research and a psychoanalytic model for the development of subjectivity ; Marked affect-mirroring and the development of affect-regulative use of pretend play ; Developmental issues in normal adolescence and adolescent breakdown -- pt. 3.Clinical perspectives: The roots of borderline personality disorder in disorganized attachment ; Psychic reality in borderline states ; Mentalized affectivity in the clinical setting -- Epilogue.

Gergely G. The Development of Understanding Self and Agency. In: Goswami U, editor. Blackwell Handbook of Childhood Cognitive Development. Oxford: Blackwell; 2002. p. 26-46.
Gergely G, Koós O, Watson JS. Perception causale et role des comportements imitatifs des parents dans le développement socio-émotionnel précoce. In: Nadel J, Decety J, editors. Imiter pour découvrir l’human: Psychologie, neurobiology, robotique et philosophie de l’esprit. Paris: ress Universitaires de France; 2002. p. 59-82.
Gergely G, Watson JS. Korai szocio-emocionális fejlődés kontingenciaészlelés és a szociális biofeedback. In: Pleh Cs, Csányi V, Bereczki T, editors. Lélek és evolúció : az evolúciós szemlélet és a pszichológia. Budapest: Osiris; 2001. p. 244-79.

Is early differentiation of human action a precursor to the one-year-old’s understanding of intentionality?

In a recent issue of Developmental Psychology, M. Legerstee, J. Barna, and C. DiAdamo (2000) reported a study showing that 6-month-olds expect people to talk to persons rather than to inanimate objects and to manipulate inanimates rather than persons. They interpreted this ability as a "precursor" to later understanding of intentionality. The present article takes issue with the authors' 2 different levels of interpretation that contradict each other and raise problems in their own right. It is suggested that M.Legerstee et al.'s finding is most arsimoniously explained by associative learning and may not constitute a precursor to later understanding of intentionality in any well-defined sense of the term. The present article argues for the importance of differentiating between associative and inferential processes and reviews evidence that the understanding of goal-directed action around 9 months of age involves principle-based inferences.

Distinguishing Logic From Association in the Solution of an Invisible Displacement Task by Children (Homo sapiens) and Dogs (Canis familiaris): Using Negation of Disjunction

Prior research on the ability to solve the Piagetian invisible displacement task has focused on prerequisite representational capacity. This study examines the additional prerequisite of deduction. As in other tasks (e.g., conservation and transitivity), it is difficult to distinguish between behavior that reflects logical inference from behavior that reflects associative generalization. Using the role of negation in logic whereby negative feedback about one belief increases the certainty of another (e.g., a disjunctive syllogism), task-naive dogs (Canis fantiliaris; n = 19) and 4- to 6-year-pld children (Homo sapiens; n = 24) were given a task wherein a desirable object was shown to have disappeared from a container after it had passed behind 3 separate screens. As predicted, children (as per logic of negated disjunction) tended to increase their speed of checking the 3rd screen after failing to find the object behind the first 2 screens, whereas dogs (as per associative extinction) tended to significantly decrease their speed of checking the 3rd screen after failing to find the object behind the first 2 screens.

Gergely G, Allen J. Introduction. Cognitive and interactional foundations of attachment. 2001;65(3):293-6.
Gergely G, Csibra G, Nádasdy Z. The perceptual basis of causal thinking. In: Pleh Cs, Kampis G, editors. Current approaches in cognitive science. Budapest: Akadémia Kiadó; 2000. p. 52-74.
Gergely G. The development of the representation of self and others. ournal of Infant, Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. 2000;1(3):25-32.
Gergely G, Watson JS. Early social-emotional development: Contingency perception and the social biofeedback model. In: Rochat P, editor. Early social cognition : understanding others in the first months of life. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates; 1999. p. 101-37.

Early social-emotional development: Contingency perception and the social biofeedback model

The past century of theory about human development has placed much responsibility for normal socio-emotional development on the social interactions experienced in infancy. The reliance on nurture over nature in each of these theories may need to be tempered in light of some recent proposals about a variety of richly structured innate mechanisms to interpret social stimulation detectors for perceiving another person's intention and eye direction; teleological stance for interpreting another's action]. Even if incorporating one or more of these specific interpretive mechanisms, however, these diverse theories will surely continue to rely heavily on an assumption they share, at least implicitly, to the effect that human infants are sensitive to the existence of contingencies between their behavior and environmental events.

Goal attribution without agency cues: the perception of 'pure reason' in infancy

The proper domain of naive psychological reasoning is human action and human mental states but such reasoning is frequently applied to nora-human phenomena as well. The studies reported in this paper test the validity of the currently widespread belief that this tendency is rooted in the fact that naive psychological reasoning is initially restricted to, and triggered by, the perception of self-initiated movement of agents. We report three habituation experiments which examine the necessary conditions under which infants invoke a psychological principle, namely the principle of rational action, to interpret behaviour as goal directed action. Experiment 1 revealed that the principle of rational action already operates at 9 (but not yet at 6) months of age. Experiment 2 demonstrated that perceptual cues indicating agency, such as self-propulsion, are not necessary prerequisites for interpreting behaviour in terms of the principle of rational action. Experiment 3 confirmed that this effect cannot be attributed to generalisation of agentive properties from one object to another. These results suggest that the domain of naive psychology is initially defined only by the applicability of its core principles and its ontology is not restricted to (featurally identified) object kinds such as persons, animates, or agents. We argue that in its initial state naive psychological reasoning is not a cue-based but a principle-based theory. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science B.V, All rights reserved.

Gergely G. Margaret Mahlers Entwicklungstheorie im Licht der jüngsten empirischen Erforschung der kindlichen Entwicklung. In: Burian W, editor. Der beobachtete und der rekonstruierte Saugling. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht; 1998. p. 91-118. (sychoanalytische Blatter; no 10).
Gergely G. Naissance de la capacité de régulation des affects. In: Sacrispeyre J, editor. Prendre soin d'un jeune enfant. Toulouse: Societé d'Editions "Recherches et Syntheses" Érés.; 1998. p. 59-70.

The teleological origins of mentalistic action explanations: A developmental hypothesis

In this paper we shall argue that mentalistic action explanations, which form an essential component of a mature theory of mind, are conceptually and developmentally derived from an earlier and purely teleological interpretational system present in infancy. First we summarize our evidence demonstrating teleological action explanations in one-year-olds. Then we shall briefly contrast the structure of teleological vs. causal mentalistic action explanations and outline four logical possibilities concerning the nature of the developmental relationship between them. We shall argue for the view that causal mentalistic action explanations are constructed as useful theoretical extensions of the earlier, purely teleological, nonmentalistic interpretational stance.

The social biofeedback model of parental affect-mirroring

The authors present a new theory of parental affect-mirroring and its role in the development of emotional self-awareness and control in infancy. It is proposed that infants first become sensitised to their categorical emotion-states through a natural social biofeedback process provided by the parent's ‘marked’ reflections of the baby's emotion displays during affect-regulative interactions. They argue that this sensitisation process is mediated (similarly to that of adult biofeedback training) by the mechanism of contingency-detection and maximising. Apart from sensitisation, affect-mirroring serves three further developmental functions: (1) it contributes to the infant's state-regulation; (2) it leads to the establishment of secondary representations that become associated with the infant's primary procedural affect-states providing the cognitive means for accessing and attributing emotions to the self; (3) it results in the development of a generalised communicative code of ‘marked’ expressions characterised by the representational functions of referential decoupling, anchoring and suspension of realistic consequences. They consider the clinical implications of our theory, relating it to current psychodynamic approaches to the functions of parental affect-mirroring. Using their model they identify various types of deviant mirroring styles and speculate about their developmental consequences. Finally, they discuss what role their social biofeedback model may play as a mediating mechanism in the therapeutic process.

Teleological reasoning in infancy: The infant's naive theory of rational action. A reply to Premack and Premack

We argue that Premack and Premack's criticism of our demonstration (Gergely et al., 1995) of interpreting goal-directed action in one year-olds in terms of the principle of rationality are ill-founded, and their suggested alternative test for goal-attribution is open to lower level interpretations. We show that the alterative model they propose for our data in terms of 'appropriate' change of means action is but a somewhat imprecise restatement of our account of the infant's naive theory of rational action. Finally, we elaborate and clarify our model of the teleological stance in infancy which we suggest is an as yet nonmentalistic precursor of the young child's later emerging causal theory of mind.

Review

This article reviews the book: Words, thoughts, and theories by A. Gopnik and A. Meltzoff

On the dangers of oversimulation

Barresi & Moore fail to provide a satisfactory account for the development of social understanding because of (1) their ambiguous characterization of the relationship between the intentional schema and shared intentional activities, (2) their underestimation of the representational capacities of infants, and (3) their overreliance on the simulationist assumption that understanding others is tantamount to sharing their experience.

The Social Biofeedback Theory Of Parental Affect-Mirroring:: The Development Of Emotional Self-Awareness And Self-Control In Infancy

The authors present a new theory of parental affect-mirroring and its role in the development of emotional self-awareness and control in infancy. It is proposed that infants first become sensitised to their categorical emotion-states through a natural social biofeedback process provided by the parent's ‘marked’ reflections of the baby's emotion displays during affect-regulative interactions. They argue that this sensitisation process is mediated (similarly to that of adult biofeedback training) by the mechanism of contingency-detection and maximising. Apart from sensitisation, affect-mirroring serves three further developmental functions: (1) it contributes to the infant's state-regulation; (2) it leads to the establishment of secondary representations that become associated with the infant's primary procedural affect-states providing the cognitive means for accessing and attributing emotions to the self; (3) it results in the development of a generalised communicative code of ‘marked’ expressions characterised by the representational functions of referential decoupling, anchoring and suspension of realistic consequences. They consider the clinical implications of our theory, relating it to current psychodynamic approaches to the functions of parental affect-mirroring. Using their model they identify various types of deviant mirroring styles and speculate about their developmental consequences. Finally, they discuss what role their social biofeedback model may play as a mediating mechanism in the therapeutic process.

Bíró S, Gergely G, Csibra G, Koós O. A racionális viselkedés naiv elméletének kísérleti vizsgálata csecsemokorban. In: Pleh C, Vinkler Z, Botz A, editors. Fikog : a Magyar Megismeréstudományi Társaság és az Eötvös Lóránd Tudományegyetem Általános Pszichológia Tanszéke által rendezett Fiatal Kognitivisták I. konferenciáján elhangzott előadások anyaga : Budapest, 1995. május 11-12. Budapest, Hungary: ELTE; 1995. p. 75-98.

Taking the intentional stance at 12 months of age

This paper reports a habituation study indicating that 12-month-old infants can take the ''intentional stance'' in interpreting the goal-directed spatial behavior of a rational agent. First, we examine previous empirical claims suggesting that the ability to attribute intentions to others emerges during the second half of the first year. It is argued that neither the perceptual evidence (concerning the early ability to discriminate agents), nor the behavioral data (indicating the use of communicative gestures for instrumental purposes) are sufficient to support such claims about the early appearance of a theory of mind, as there are alternative explanations for these phenomena in terms of simpler psychological processes. It is then suggested that to show that an infant indeed attributes an intention to interpret the goal-directed behavior of a rational agent, one needs to demonstrate that the baby can generate an expectation about the most rational future means action that the agent will perform in a new situation to achieve its goal. We then describe a visual habituation study that meets this requirement. The results demonstrate that based on the equifinal structure of an agent's spatial behavior, 12-month-old infants can identify the agent's goal and interpret its actions causally in relation to it. Furthermore, our study indicates that infants of this age are able to evaluate the rationality of the agent's goal-directed actions, which is a necessary requirement for applying the intentional stance. In closing, we discuss some of the theoretical and methodological implications of our study.

Gergely G. From self-recognition to theory of mind. In: Parker S, Mitchell R, Boccia M, editors. Self-awareness in animals and humans : developmental perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 1994. p. 51-61.
Gergely G, Csibra G. On the ascription of intentional content. Cahiers De Psychologie Cognitive-Current Psychology of Cognition. 1994;13(5):584-9.
Gergely G. Focus-based inferences in sentence comprehension. In: Szabolcsi A, Sag I, editors. Lexical matters. Stanford: Center for the Study of Language and Information; 1992. p. 209-40.
Gergely G. The methodological myth of the sufficiency of purely clinical evidence in psychoanalytc theory. In: Kiss G, editor. Proceedings of the 7th European CHEIRON Conference on the History of Psychology. Budapest: Hungarian Psychological Association; 1988.
Gergely G. Piaget and language acquisition. In: Mérei F, editor. In memory of Piaget. Budapest: Akadémia Kiadó; 1985. p. 73-94.