The Embodied Nature of Narrative: Moving with purpose with others, and its disruption in autism

The Language and Communication Research cluster is delighted to welcome Dr. Jonathan Delafield-Butt, Reader in Child Development, University of Strathclyde for a presentation on The Embodied Nature of Narrative: Moving with purpose with others, and its disruption in autism.

When? Wednesday 14 March 2018, 16.00 – 17.30

Where? Room BG02 (Building 9) – please note room change, Middlesex University, Hendon campus

Abstract

In this talk I will examine the embodied, affective nature of human meaning-making before it achieves linguistic expression, as a route to basic principles of agency in movement with social awareness, affective contact, and learning to achieve projects of common purpose.   Conscious human experience is first evident in purposeful movements of the body made in basic actions in utero.1  Even at this early stage, these actions require an anticipation of their future effect, and generate basic satisfaction on their successful completion.  This constitutes the first form of knowledge, knowing ahead of time the effects of a particular self-motivated, self-generated action, and its likely affective value.  Made in intersubjective engagement after birth, these basic actions serve to co-create embodied narratives, or shared projects of meaning-making with common purpose.  These are first and foremost embodied, then become linguistic.2,3  In autism, new evidence demonstrates the subsecond timing and integration of basic motor agency is disrupted, thwarting consequent social engagement and learning.4,5  This emerging motor perspective in autism presents a strong embodied view of development, illustrates its importance when disrupted, and gives impetus for novel therapeutic routes that include embodied, motor rehabilitative strategies.

Bio

Jonathan Delafield ButtJonathan Delafield-Butt is Reader in Child Development and Director of the Laboratory for Innovation in Autism at the University of Strathclyde.  His work examines the origins of human experience and the embodied foundations of development, especially in neurodevelopmental disorder.  He began research with a Ph.D. in Developmental Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh, then extended to Developmental Psychology in work on the embodied nature of infant learning and development at the Universities of Edinburgh and Copenhagen.  He has held scholarships at Harvard University and at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Edinburgh University for bridgework between science and philosophy, and has trained pre-clinically in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy at the Scottish Institute for Human Relations.  His research combines disciplinary perspectives (neuroscience, psychology, movement science) to present new insight into early meaning-making in children, on the aetiology of autism spectrum disorder, and novel routes to therapeutic intervention.

References
  1. Delafield-Butt, J. T., & Gangopadhyay, N. (2013). Sensorimotor intentionality: The origins of intentionality in prospective agent action. Developmental Review, 33(4), 399-425. doi:10.1016/j.dr.2013.09.001
  2. Delafield-Butt, J. T., & Trevarthen, C. (2015). The ontogenesis of narrative: From moving to meaning. Frontiers in Psychology, 6. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01157
  3. Delafield-Butt, J., & Adie, J. (2016). The embodied narrative nature of learning. Mind Brain & Education, 10(2), 14. doi:10.1111/mbe.12120
  4. Trevarthen, C. & Delafield-Butt, J. T. Autism as a developmental disorder in intentional movement and affective engagement. Integr. Neurosci. 7, 49, doi:10.3389/fnint.2013.00049 (2013).
  5. Anzulewicz, A., Sobota, K. & Delafield-Butt, J. T. Toward the autism motor signature: Gesture patterns during smart tablet gameplay identify children with autism. Rep. 6, doi:10.1038/srep31107 (2016).

The Language and Communication Research Seminars are free and open to all staff, students and guests. For any questions or if you would like to lead a session, contact Anna Charalambidou.

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