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, 99 (4), 587-604

How to Build a Baby: II. Conceptual Primitives


How to Build a Baby: II. Conceptual Primitives

J M Mandler. Psychol Rev.


A mechanism of perceptual analysis by which infants derive meaning from perceptual activity is described. Infants use this mechanism to redescribe perceptual information into image-schematic format. Image-schemas create conceptual structure from the spatial structure of objects and their movements, resulting in notions such as animacy, inanimacy, agency, and containment. These earliest meanings are nonpropositional, analogical representations grounded in the perceptual world of the infant. In contrast with most perceptual processing, which is not analyzed in this fashion, redescription into image-schematic format simplifies perceptual information and makes it potentially accessible for purposes of concept formation and thought. In addition to enabling preverbal thought, image-schemas provide a foundation for language acquisition by creating an interface between the continuous processes of perception and the discrete nature of language.

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