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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)
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)
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)
This article summarizes recent evidence indicating that individuals suffering from autism have a specific problem in understanding intentions and beliefs. We propose that this problem arises because they are incapable of forming a special kind of mental representation. A single cognitive deficit defines what is common to all autistic individuals. In(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)