Meaning and Mind in Monkeys
Does adaptationism imply modularity?
A Developmental Chronology
Core Cognitive Competencies
(under construction 1 September 2002)

"Primary circular reaction" (cry in response to another infant's cry) 1-2 days Sagi & Hoffman 1976
Eye contact detection 2 days Farroni et al. 2002
Motor mimicry ? Lipps 1926, Titchener 1909, Vaughan & Lanzetta 1980
Laughter 14-16 weeks Provine 1996: 39
Modularization of senses? 4 months Baron-Cohen 1996
Theory of objects (cohesive, bounded, local action)
3-5 months
Spelke 1990 
Eye-direction detection -- but see eye contact detection at 2 days
6 months
Baron-Cohen 1995
Peek-a-boo 6-9 months Clarke 1999 (verify)
Stationary chase games 6-9 months Clarke 1999 (verify)
Pretend play (specify)
7 months
Leslie 1992 (verify)
Object permanence 7-9 months  
Crawling 7-9 months  
Crawl play chase 7-9 months Clarke 1999 (verify)
Walking 9-12 months  
Walking play chase 9-12 months Clarke 1999 (verify)
Shared attention, pointing
(9?-)12 months
Baron-Cohen 1995
Self-other division  12+ mnths Hoffman 1984
Running 12-16 months  
Attribution of motivational states to others (understanding desire) 18 months (verify)
Proto-declarative pointing
18 months
Donald 1991, 171;

Baron-Cohen 1995
Role taking 3 years Hoffman 1984
False belief attribution ("Tom mistakenly thinks that X")
3 1/2 - 4 yrs
Baron-Cohen 1995
False belief, second order ("Tom thinks that Mary mistakenly thinks that X is the case")
10-11 yrs
Valerie Stone (verify;
cf. Stone's home page)
Faux pas
Baron-Cohen et al. 1999
Items to date:
Procedural memory
Empathic mimicry
Phonetic parsing
Procedural imitation
Mirror recognition
Episodic memory
Semantic memory
Conceptual blending
Empathy -
 Perceptual role taking
 Cognitive role taking
 Affective role taking
Attribution of emotional states to others
Comprehension of fictional narrative
Generation of fictional narrative


A developmental progression of self-awareness in human children begins at 5 months with the recognition of situational contingencies. By 9 months, children engage in imitation (probably emulation). At 15 months, the visuomotor systems are integrated, true imitation appears, as does self-conscious emotion. Around the 2nd birthday, a toddler can recognize the self in a photo; and by 2 years, use verbal labels to refer to the self. Three-year-old children experience self-evaluative emotions (e.g. shame). And four-year-old children begin to understand their experiences in a narrative form (Parker, 1996).

Barnette (1998) posits three forms of imitation: stimulus enhancement draws attention to a piece of an event (e.g. mom feeding or showing fear); emulation, or observational learning, that involves copying of a simple behavior without instruction; and true imitation in which a new complicated behavior is observed and then performing the behavior for the self, an ability linked to mimesis. True imitation is necessary for learning the social context of a group and is the foundation for pretend play and pretend role play in human children, that begins around three years of age (Parker, 1996).

See also Stephanie Owens' Developmental Chronology and PsiCafe's developmental links.


Baron-Cohen, Simon (1995). Mindblindness: An Essay on Autism and Theory of Mind.
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Publisher's presentation (external).

Baron-Cohen, Simon (1996). Is There a Normal Phase of Synaesthesia in Development? Psyche 2. 27 (June). Full text (external). (Cf. news article on synaesthesia.)

Baron-Cohen, S., Wheelwright, S., Stone, V.E., Jones, R. & Plaisted, K. (1999). Recognition of faux pas by normally developing children and children with Asperger Syndrome or high-functioning autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 29: 407-418.

Clarke, L.J. (1999). Development reflected in chase games. In Reifel, S. (ed.). Play and Culture Studies. Volume 2: Play Contexts Revisited. Stamford, CT: Ablex.

Cummings, Denise Dellarosa and Colin Allen (eds.) (1998). The Evolution of Mind. New York: Oxford University Press. See articles by Hauser & Carey, Wynn, and Ristau summarizing core abilities of infants.

Donald, Merlin (1991). Origins of the Modern Mind. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Author's precis in Brain and Behavioral Sciences article (external).

Farroni, Teresa; Gergely Csibra, Francesca Simion, and Mark H. Johnson (2002). Eye contact detection in humans from birth. PNAS 2002 99: 9602-9605. BBC News article 25 June 2002.

Handbook of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. Edited by Charles A. Nelson and Monica Luciana. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001. Full text (external; MIT's CogNet)

Leslie, Alan M. (1992). Pretense, Autism, and the Theory-of-Mind Module. Current Directions in Psychological Science 1: 18-21. See also his chapters in Weiskranz (1988), Hirschfeld & Gelman (1994), and Sperber, Premack, & Premack (1995).

Oller, John. Developed a 16 stage trajectory for the acquisition of symbolic ability.

Sagi, Abraham and Martin L. Hoffman (1976). Empathic Distress in the Newborn. Developmental Psychology 12 (2) :175-176 (examines how 34-hr-old infants cry to the sound of another newborn's cry and shows that the cry is a response to the vocal properties of the other's cry)

Spelke, Elizabeth S. (1990). Principles of Object Perception. Cognitive Science 14: 29-56.

Suplee, Curt (2000). Key Brain Growth Goes on Into Teens. Washington Post report of Nature article. Full text.

Narrative and Neuroscience Bibliography


Meaning and Mind in Monkeys
Does Adaptationism Imply Modularity?
Does adaptationism imply modularity?
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© 1999 Francis F. Steen, Communication Studies, University of California, Los Angeles