Research Topic

Intersubjectivity: Recent Advances in Theory, Research, and Practice

About this Research Topic

Intersubjectivity describes the dynamic sharing of minds acting in companionship, exchanging self-conscious intentions, experiences, feelings, and emotional evaluations. These expressions elaborated between persons signal aesthetic and moral values for acceptance for life in a culture. The concept of innate motives of mind-to-mind vitality has generated developments in Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognitive Neuroscience, Education, Sociology, Anthropology, and Linguistics. Since 1960, when studies of infants disproved the theory of the young mind as a sensory-motor computer that is ‘conditioned’ to learn ‘facts’ symbolized in language, psychology now highlights young infants’ innate agency and sensitivity for the rhythms and the quality of feelings transmitted by expressive body movements in stories of communication. This natural science of infant emotions has fundamental implications for support of children’s health, growth and learning in Psychology, Education, Pediatrics, Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, and for mental health of parents and teachers. It has strong confirmation by recent functional brain science.

Up-to-date research on the expressions of human sympathy in early life – or on the lack thereof – proves that a shared vitality in intentions with emotions is the foundation for individual well-being, and for a cooperative and confident lifetime in community. Research on imitation and communication of emotions from the neonatal period, and in fetuses, sheds light on the psychobiological foundations of intersubjectivity, with reflections later in development of life in culture. But there are many questions, for example: How early, and by what means, can the first signs of inter-subjective awareness be reliably detected? How does sensitive care and emotional support at each stage influence psychological functioning and health in later life? What is the contribution of infant inter-subjective awareness of interests and feelings to higher levels of cognitive ability in practical cooperation, and to robust physiological functioning? What is the practical importance of findings recorded in the literature on the development of sympathetic communication in development of the cooperative use of affordances of objects in the shared world? The goal of this Research Topic is to advance the science of intersubjectivity by bringing together new empirical studies with advanced scholarship on the early emergence of human consciousness.

We welcome contributions that address the following topics:
• Systematic reviews and theoretical contributions discussing novel approaches in intersubjectivity; debates between traditional and contemporary theories; and implications for theory and practice in Developmental Psychology, Education, Paediatrics, Psychiatry and Psychotherapy;
• Empirical studies investigating intersubjectivity by applying neuroimaging, neuroendocrine, motor analyses, micro-analyses, observational and behavioural methods, with implications in any afore-mentioned domain;
• Empirical studies on foundations of intersubjectivity in fetal and early infant stages;
• Developmental studies on later psychological, educational, and health outcomes of early measures of intersubjectivity;
• Research connecting intersubjectivity in the fetus, neonatal period, or infancy with subsequent cognitive, emotional and social functioning of typically and atypically developing populations, and in cases of maternal/paternal psychopathology;
• Research investigating intersubjectivity in interactions of infants/children with Significant Others (mothers, fathers, grandparents, (twin) siblings and peers; and in different cultural and ecological environments, such as rural and urban areas);
• Empirical works applying the concept of intersubjectivity on interpretation and identification of neuro-developmental disorders as well as on integrative concepts that might guide effective early interventions.


Keywords: Intersubjectivity without Language, Infant and Fetus, Neonatal and Fetal Communication, Imitation, Primary Embodied Intelligence, Prospective Sequencing of Movements, Sharing Vitality Dynamics, Brain for Cultural Learning, Expressive Behavior and Personal Relationships, Intimacy and Affect Attunement, Sustaining Attachments, Emotional Projects and Arts, Practical Habits and Cognitive Development, Postpartum Mental Health and Care, Hormones, Autonomic Nervous System, Rhythms of Autonomic and Visceral Regulation, Emotional and Social Development, Education Theory and Policy, Paediatrics, Neuro-developmental Disorders, Psychopathology, Psychiatry and Psychotherapy


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Intersubjectivity describes the dynamic sharing of minds acting in companionship, exchanging self-conscious intentions, experiences, feelings, and emotional evaluations. These expressions elaborated between persons signal aesthetic and moral values for acceptance for life in a culture. The concept of innate motives of mind-to-mind vitality has generated developments in Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognitive Neuroscience, Education, Sociology, Anthropology, and Linguistics. Since 1960, when studies of infants disproved the theory of the young mind as a sensory-motor computer that is ‘conditioned’ to learn ‘facts’ symbolized in language, psychology now highlights young infants’ innate agency and sensitivity for the rhythms and the quality of feelings transmitted by expressive body movements in stories of communication. This natural science of infant emotions has fundamental implications for support of children’s health, growth and learning in Psychology, Education, Pediatrics, Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, and for mental health of parents and teachers. It has strong confirmation by recent functional brain science.

Up-to-date research on the expressions of human sympathy in early life – or on the lack thereof – proves that a shared vitality in intentions with emotions is the foundation for individual well-being, and for a cooperative and confident lifetime in community. Research on imitation and communication of emotions from the neonatal period, and in fetuses, sheds light on the psychobiological foundations of intersubjectivity, with reflections later in development of life in culture. But there are many questions, for example: How early, and by what means, can the first signs of inter-subjective awareness be reliably detected? How does sensitive care and emotional support at each stage influence psychological functioning and health in later life? What is the contribution of infant inter-subjective awareness of interests and feelings to higher levels of cognitive ability in practical cooperation, and to robust physiological functioning? What is the practical importance of findings recorded in the literature on the development of sympathetic communication in development of the cooperative use of affordances of objects in the shared world? The goal of this Research Topic is to advance the science of intersubjectivity by bringing together new empirical studies with advanced scholarship on the early emergence of human consciousness.

We welcome contributions that address the following topics:
• Systematic reviews and theoretical contributions discussing novel approaches in intersubjectivity; debates between traditional and contemporary theories; and implications for theory and practice in Developmental Psychology, Education, Paediatrics, Psychiatry and Psychotherapy;
• Empirical studies investigating intersubjectivity by applying neuroimaging, neuroendocrine, motor analyses, micro-analyses, observational and behavioural methods, with implications in any afore-mentioned domain;
• Empirical studies on foundations of intersubjectivity in fetal and early infant stages;
• Developmental studies on later psychological, educational, and health outcomes of early measures of intersubjectivity;
• Research connecting intersubjectivity in the fetus, neonatal period, or infancy with subsequent cognitive, emotional and social functioning of typically and atypically developing populations, and in cases of maternal/paternal psychopathology;
• Research investigating intersubjectivity in interactions of infants/children with Significant Others (mothers, fathers, grandparents, (twin) siblings and peers; and in different cultural and ecological environments, such as rural and urban areas);
• Empirical works applying the concept of intersubjectivity on interpretation and identification of neuro-developmental disorders as well as on integrative concepts that might guide effective early interventions.


Keywords: Intersubjectivity without Language, Infant and Fetus, Neonatal and Fetal Communication, Imitation, Primary Embodied Intelligence, Prospective Sequencing of Movements, Sharing Vitality Dynamics, Brain for Cultural Learning, Expressive Behavior and Personal Relationships, Intimacy and Affect Attunement, Sustaining Attachments, Emotional Projects and Arts, Practical Habits and Cognitive Development, Postpartum Mental Health and Care, Hormones, Autonomic Nervous System, Rhythms of Autonomic and Visceral Regulation, Emotional and Social Development, Education Theory and Policy, Paediatrics, Neuro-developmental Disorders, Psychopathology, Psychiatry and Psychotherapy


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

30 May 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

30 May 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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