Cognition in Action Lecture Series. Leggi l’abstract dell’intervento di Pierre Jacob all’Università Statale di Milano

giovedì, 18 Novembre, 2010

Università degli Studi di Milano


Ascribing goals


Professor Pierre Jacob
(Institute Jean Nicod)

Tuesday November 23, at 4.30 pm, Room 435
University of Milan, via Festa del Perdono 3


This paper is devoted to the experimental investigation of the fundamental mechanisms enabling preverbal human infants to represent and reason about an agent’s action as goal-directed and to ascribe a goal to an agent. I examine the scope and limits of what I call the “shared intentionality” model of goal-ascription. According to two basic assumptions of this model, (i) the process of goal-ascription consists in sharing the agent’s goal and (ii) preverbal human infants share goals only with familiar (i.e. perceptually human-like) agents who perform familiar (i.e. executable) actions. This model derives much of its appeal to its ability to integrate behavioral developmental evidence together with cognitive neuroscientific evidence about mirror neuron (MN) activity based on single-cell recording in the brain of non-human primates. Furthermore, recent developmental behavioral evidence showing that human infants’ motor experience enhances their ability to represent others’ actions as goal-directed has been interpreted as evidence for the role of MN activity (or mirroring) in early goal-ascription by human infants. I offer a different interpretation.

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