Kwisthout, J., Vogt, P., Haselager, P. and Dijkstra, T. (2008) Joint attention and language evolution Connection Science 20(2-3): 155-171
Abstract This study investigates how more advanced joint attentional mechanisms, rather than only shared attention between two agents and an object, can be implemented and how they influence the results of language games played by these agents. We present computer simulations with language games showing that adding constructs that mimic the three stages of joint attention identified in children’s early development (checking attention, following attention and directing attention) substantially increase the performance of agents in these language games. In particular, the rates of improved performance for the individual attentional mechanisms have the same ordering as that of the emergence of these mechanisms in infants’ development. These results suggest that language evolution and joint attentional mechanisms have developed in a co-evolutionary way, and that the evolutionary emergence of the individual attentional mechanisms is ordered just like their developmental emergence.