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Andrew N. Meltzoff, Ph.D.

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Andrew N. Meltzoff, Ph.D.


Dr. Meltzoff is the Job and Gertrud Tamaki Endowed Chair and Codirector of the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences at the University of Washington. He is a developmental psychologist whose research focuses on social and emotional development in infants and young children. He has done pioneering work on newborn behavior, especially how infants first connect socially and communicate with other people. Dr. Meltzoff’s discoveries about imitative learning have changed our ideas about human nature. The work shows that infants use adults as role models for their activities even before children can use their first words.

Dr. Meltzoff also investigates infants’ ability to learn by following the eye-gaze of adults. Through following gaze, infants learn what emotional expressions mean or “refer to” in the world. Taken together, the work on imitation and gaze-following are two of the earliest and most fundamental tools children have for understanding us—the adults in their culture. Intriguingly, Dr. Meltzoff and others have found that children with autism have impairments in imitation and gaze-following, which may contribute to their being cut off from the social-emotional world that we so take for granted.

Dr. Meltzoff holds a doctorate in psychology from Oxford and a B.A. from Harvard.

Awards and Credentials

  1. Tamaki Endowed Chair and Codirector of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences
  2. Coauthor of a landmark book about early learning and the brain: The Scientist in the Crib: What Early Learning Tells Us about the Mind
  3. Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences
  4. MERIT Award for Outstanding Research, National Institutes of Health

Related Links

Recommended Reading List

  • “Imitation of Facial and Manual Gestures by Human Neonates.” Meltzoff, A.N., et al. (1977). Science, 198.
  • “Understanding the Intentions of Others: Re-enactment of Intended Acts by 18-Month-Old Children.” Meltzoff, A. N. (1995). Developmental Psychology, 31.
  • “The ‘Like Me’ Framework for Recognizing and Becoming an Intentional Agent.” Meltzoff, A. N. (2007). Acta Psychologica, 124.

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