Infant Intentions as the Origin of Shared Meaning

Research output: Contribution to conferenceKeynote


This talk examines the early embodied nature of psychological development in infancy, and the role of the neuromotor system as an active generator of conscious experience made in affective engagement with caring and sensitive social others. The significance of this early embodied agency sheds light on how meaning is co-created between individuals in reciprocal expressive actions that share common rhythm to yield a ‘narrative’ organisation. This narrative structure, evident in social interaction from birth, is ubiquitous in the human time-based arts of poetry, music, drama, and literature. It structures human intelligence, underneath and before verbal language. In autism, new evidence reveals a subtle, but significant disruption to this embodied motor agency in children, from early infancy onwards. It can thwart efficient engagement and lead to autistic symptomatology of emotional dysregulation and social withdrawal. New serious games digital technologies coupled with artificial intelligence can detect these subtle ‘autism motor signatures’ before conventional clinical instruments allow, providing new routes to its early identification, and new understanding of affective engagement for sensitive care, and improved lifelong success.


ConferenceLeaders in the Field, Neonatal Behavior International, Brazelton Institute, Harvard University
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  • infancy
  • cognitive development
  • autism


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