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Joint attention provides clues to autism and cooperation

Psychologists and philosophers convene to discuss the roots of shared knowledge at a meeting in Waltham, Mass.

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2:14pm, October 5, 2009

Psychologists and philosophers convene to discuss the roots of shared knowledge at a meeting in Waltham, Mass.

Different paths to childhood autism

Being born into a world of darkness provides an unappreciated avenue to autism, researchers suggested October 2.

Within the first few months of life, babies display a basic form of what researchers call joint attention. An infant will maintain a steady gaze with a nearby adult and imitate that adult’s simple actions, such as sticking out the tongue. By age 2, joint attention becomes more complex. Two children, for example, can convey with just a look that they both know that one toy is better than another.

Many scientists view joint attention as a skill essential to forming relationships with others and communicating effectively. Early difficulties with joint attention because of blindness from birth can block emotional contact with others and foster autism, said psychologists Peter

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