“Just as we start constructing our offspring before birth, so we apply our overactive imaginations to infant behavior long before it is logically sound to do so. If Athena makes a random gurgling sound, which I think sounds like a classic baby coo, then I respond to it with all the emotional dials turned up all the way. I fill it with meaning, and turn that meaning back to her. The emotional stakes are raised: suddenly this matters, to both of us. As soon as she can begin to connect my response with the action of hers that triggered it, she can start to close the circle of her own emotions: how feelings lead to responses, and back to feelings, world without end. Infants’ social behavior comes to have meaning because we take it as having meaning. We create our babies’ smiles before they do.”

—Charles Fernyhough, A Thousand Days of Wonder

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