Twelve-month-olds’ comprehension and production of pointing


Tanya Behne, University of Göttingen, Waldweg 26, 37073 Göttingen, Germany (


This study explored whether infants aged 12 months already recognize the communicative function of pointing gestures. Infants participated in a task requiring them to comprehend an adult's informative pointing gesture to the location of a hidden toy. They mostly succeeded in this task, which required them to infer that the adult was attempting to direct their attention to a location for a reason – because she wanted them to know that a toy was hidden there. Many of the infants also reversed roles and produced appropriate pointing gestures for the adult in this same game, and indeed there was a correlation such that comprehenders were for the most part producers. These findings indicate that by 12 months of age infants are beginning to show a bidirectional understanding of communicative pointing.