Behavior: Interpreting Baby Talk

What do an infant's cries mean? Hunger, usually, or discomfort, or fear. But they also reveal a slow process of learning how to communicate. Within a few months the baby's noises already show signs of patterns: a cry followed by a pause to listen for reactions, then another cry.

So reports Jerome Bruner, 60, longtime Harvard psychologist now teaching at Oxford and author of such pioneering works as A Study of Thinking (1956) and The Process of Education (1960). In a recent address to the 21st International Congress of Psychology in Paris, Bruner challenged the popular view that infants are born egocentric...

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