Joint attention is the perceptual and mental ability to adopt a common point of reference with other people. We are not born with joint attention ability; however, it begins to mature rapidly in typical development between 2 and 18 months. In that period, infants become increasingly capable of preverbal referential cognition and communication that involves following the direction of the face and the gaze of another person, or their pointing gestures, to a distal point of reference. This is called responding to joint attention. Infants also learn to shift their gaze or use gestures, such as pointing or showing, to indicate a referent and share their interests in objects or events with other people. This is called initiating joint attention. This entry discusses the role ...

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