Infants’ grasp of others’ intentions

  • Autism Research
Speaker Amanda Woodward, Ph.D.
University of Chicago
Date & Time


Gerald D. Fischbach Auditorium
160 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10010 United States

Autism Research

Autism Research lectures bring together scientists and scholars to discuss diverse and important topics related to autism. The lectures are open to the public and are held at the Gerald D. Fischbach Auditorium at the Simons Foundation headquarters in New York City. Tea is served prior to each lecture.

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On 6 November 2013, Amanda Woodward discussed the origins of children’s social understanding and how this fundamental aspect of cognition has profound implications for early childhood development. Her talk was part of the Simons Foundation Autism Research lecture series.

Kevin Pelphrey provided post-lecture commentary on how our growing understanding of the origins of children’s social cognition can inform the search for early diagnostic indicators of autism.

You can watch a complete video recording of the event above. Use the comments section below to discuss the lecture and pose follow-up questions.

About the Lecture

Growing evidence shows that in typical development, the ability to carry out actions according to intentions emerges during infancy. Studies over the past few years have shown that this ability develops and changes rapidly during infancy. An infant’s active engagement with the physical and social world is critical for acquiring social skills.

About the commentator:

Kevin Pelphrey is Harris Professor at the Yale Child Study Center and director of the Center for Translational Developmental Neuroscience and the Yale Center for Excellence in Autism Research and Treatment. As a SFARI Investigator, his research focuses on the application of cognitive neuroscience and genetics techniques to understanding the systems biology of neurodevelopmental disorders.

About the Speaker

Amanda Woodward is William S. Gray Professor of Psychology at the University of Chicago and director of the university’s Infant Learning and Development Laboratory.

Woodward is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and of the Association for Psychological Science. She is incoming president of the Cognitive Development Society and serves on the executive board of the International Society on Infant Studies. Woodward has pioneered the study of infant social cognition, particularly infants’ understanding of others’ actions and the relationship between infants’ own actions and their action perception. Her team also investigates infants’ learning from social partners, and cross-cultural variations in early social learning.

Past Lectures

Progress in understanding the genetic basis of mental health

Benjamin Neale, Ph.D.Associate Professor, Analytic and Translational Genetics Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital
Associate Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Associated Researcher, Broad Institute

On May 6, 2020, Benjamin Neale discussed progress in mapping genetic risk factors for autism, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Autism, autisms, or neurodevelopmental disorders?

Jason Lerch, Ph.D.Director of Preclinical Imaging, Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging, University of Oxford
Adjunct Scientist, Mouse Imaging Centre, The Hospital for Sick Children
Associate Professor in Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto

On January 29, 2020, Jason Lerch explored this question: What do modern ways of looking at brains and genes tell us about autism – or autisms – and its relation to attention deficit disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other related disorders of brain development?

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