The origins and development of meaning: examining experience from in utero to shared meaning-making in early life to better understand young children's learning, and how best to work with them.

Research output: Contribution to conferenceKeynote


This talk examines the origins of the infant mind in its first purposeful movements, evident in utero, and traces their development into complex projects of social meaning-making in the first year of life. All movements require prospective control, an anticipation of their future effect. This constitutes the first form of knowledge, knowing ahead of time the effects of a particular self-generated action. At first, these are basic and simple, but over development they become serially organised into projects requiring greater knowledge of their distal consequences, as they expand in capacity and reach. This is a transition from brainstem mediated conscious control to more abstract, cortically mediated control. In social engagement, self-generated acts of expression made with another co-create regular, non-verbal narrative patterns that establish common meaning available for social understanding and sharing intentions. By tracing development of meaning-making from solo projects in utero to shared narrative projects in early life, we can better appreciate social patterns and their compositions evident in health, disrupted in pathology, and important for development and learning.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2014
EventHiMATS Spring Conference 2014 : Celebrating our 15th Birthday - Eden Court, Inverness, United Kingdom
Duration: 10 May 2014 → …


ConferenceHiMATS Spring Conference 2014 : Celebrating our 15th Birthday
CountryUnited Kingdom
Period10/05/14 → …

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