How infant meaning-making processes are a central mechanism in governing both typical and pathological child outcomes.

The talk will focus on the ways infants make meaning about the world using non-verbal processes, including emotions and actions.  Experiences of infants with others create meaning about their world. The processes that lead to typical and pathological childhood development are discussed.

Outline of what is being presented: 


  1. Humans as meaning makers as described by Bruner, with examples from newborn behavior and infants reactions to emotional displays.  The infants response to anger including a video/
  2. The principle from systems theory that all humans – infants included – strive to increase the complexity and coherence of their sense of self in the world.  Including work on the still-face in infants and toddlers including videos.
  3. The process of reparation and how disorganization in development leads to change.
  4. Games as a way to illustrate how striving for coherence leads to increase complexity.  Peek-a-boo video.
  5. Cultural leaning as form of leaning games – a way of increasing coherence in the moment and in the future. 
  6. Finding coherence may lead to aberrant and derailed development.  Effects of maternal depression and extreme trauma.
  7. Conclusion – processes and pathways to normal and abnormal development.



To understand how infants are makers of meaning about themselves in relation to the world in typical and pathological settings and across cultures. To identify different levels of processes - emotions and physiology -
that make meaning for the infant and child. To understand the mutual regulation processes in the infant -adult dyad that underlie learning, games and culture.
To understand how these processes can lead to developmental derailment.  


Presentation Edward Tronick