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      Reliance on head versus eyes in the gaze following of great apes and human infants: the cooperative eye hypothesis

      , , ,
      Journal of Human Evolution
      Elsevier BV

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          Abstract

          As compared with other primates, humans have especially visible eyes (e.g., white sclera). One hypothesis is that this feature of human eyes evolved to make it easier for conspecifics to follow an individual's gaze direction in close-range joint attentional and communicative interactions, which would seem to imply especially cooperative (mututalistic) conspecifics. In the current study, we tested one aspect of this cooperative eye hypothesis by comparing the gaze following behavior of great apes to that of human infants. A human experimenter "looked" to the ceiling either with his eyes only, head only (eyes closed), both head and eyes, or neither. Great apes followed gaze to the ceiling based mainly on the human's head direction (although eye direction played some role as well). In contrast, human infants relied almost exclusively on eye direction in these same situations. These results demonstrate that humans are especially reliant on eyes in gaze following situations, and thus, suggest that eyes evolved a new social function in human evolution, most likely to support cooperative (mututalistic) social interactions.

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          Understanding and sharing intentions: the origins of cultural cognition.

          We propose that the crucial difference between human cognition and that of other species is the ability to participate with others in collaborative activities with shared goals and intentions: shared intentionality. Participation in such activities requires not only especially powerful forms of intention reading and cultural learning, but also a unique motivation to share psychological states with others and unique forms of cognitive representation for doing so. The result of participating in these activities is species-unique forms of cultural cognition and evolution, enabling everything from the creation and use of linguistic symbols to the construction of social norms and individual beliefs to the establishment of social institutions. In support of this proposal we argue and present evidence that great apes (and some children with autism) understand the basics of intentional action, but they still do not participate in activities involving joint intentions and attention (shared intentionality). Human children's skills of shared intentionality develop gradually during the first 14 months of life as two ontogenetic pathways intertwine: (1) the general ape line of understanding others as animate, goal-directed, and intentional agents; and (2) a species-unique motivation to share emotions, experience, and activities with other persons. The developmental outcome is children's ability to construct dialogic cognitive representations, which enable them to participate in earnest in the collectivity that is human cognition.
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            Visual Fixation Patterns During Viewing of Naturalistic Social Situations as Predictors of Social Competence in Individuals With Autism

            Manifestations of core social deficits in autism are more pronounced in everyday settings than in explicit experimental tasks. To bring experimental measures in line with clinical observation, we report a novel method of quantifying atypical strategies of social monitoring in a setting that simulates the demands of daily experience. Enhanced ecological validity was intended to maximize between-group effect sizes and assess the predictive utility of experimental variables relative to outcome measures of social competence.
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              Recognizing emotion from facial expressions: psychological and neurological mechanisms.

              Recognizing emotion from facial expressions draws on diverse psychological processes implemented in a large array of neural structures. Studies using evoked potentials, lesions, and functional imaging have begun to elucidate some of the mechanisms. Early perceptual processing of faces draws on cortices in occipital and temporal lobes that construct detailed representations from the configuration of facial features. Subsequent recognition requires a set of structures, including amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex, that links perceptual representations of the face to the generation of knowledge about the emotion signaled, a complex set of mechanisms using multiple strategies. Although recent studies have provided a wealth of detail regarding these mechanisms in the adult human brain, investigations are also being extended to nonhuman primates, to infants, and to patients with psychiatric disorders.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Journal of Human Evolution
                Journal of Human Evolution
                Elsevier BV
                00472484
                March 2007
                March 2007
                : 52
                : 3
                : 314-320
                Article
                10.1016/j.jhevol.2006.10.001
                17140637
                78b550d0-df72-4012-a88e-e8d063797931
                © 2007

                https://www.elsevier.com/tdm/userlicense/1.0/


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