Alan M. Leslie

Learn More
We use a new model of metarepresentational development to predict a cognitive deficit which could explain a crucial component of the social impairment in childhood autism. One of the manifestations of a basic metarepresentational capacity is a ‘theory of mind’. We have reason to believe that autistic children lack such a ‘theory’. If this were so, then they(More)
Commonsense notions of psychological causality emerge early and spontaneously in the child. What implications does this have for our understanding of the mind/brain and its development? In the light of available evidence, the child's "theory of mind" is plausibly the result of the growth and functioning of a specialized mechanism (ToMM) that produces(More)
It is now widely accepted that sensitivity to goal-directed actions emerges during the first year of life. However, controversy still surrounds the question of how this sensitivity emerges and develops. One set of views emphasizes the role of observing behavioral cues, while another emphasizes the role of experience with producing own action. In a series of(More)
The problem of the origins of the perception of causality in infancy has received relatively little attention in the literature despite its obvious importance. Two experiments with infants 4 1/2 and 8 months old are reported which seek to investigate sensitivity to spatiotemporal continuity in simple causal events with a differential(More)
To understand some aspects of conceptual development it is necessary to take cognitive architecture into account. For this purpose, the study of normal development is often not sufficient. Fortunately, one can also study neurodevelopmental disorders. For example, autistic children have severe difficulties developing certain kinds of concepts but not others.(More)
Human learning may depend upon domain specialized mechanisms. A plausible example is rapid, early learning about the thoughts and feelings of other people. A major achievement in this domain, at about age four in the typically developing child, is the ability to solve problems in which the child attributes false beliefs to other people and predicts their(More)
Our ability to understand the thoughts and feelings of other people does not initially develop as a theory but as a mechanism. The "theory of mind" mechanism (ToMM) is part of the core architecture of the human brain, and is specialized for learning about mental states. Impaired development of this mechanism can have drastic effects on social learning, seen(More)