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Visual exposure predicts infants' ability to follow another's gaze
Date:8/15/2014

g entered the world early.

While sitting in his or her mother's lap, the infants were presented with a sound and visual cue to grab their attention. As soon as they were looking at the screen, a video of a woman appeared and the woman made peek-a-boo like gestures. The woman then turned her head and directed her gaze toward one side of the screen; subsequently, a moving toy appeared on each side of the screen. Using an eyetracking system adapted for infants, the researchers were able to monitor which side of the screen infants looked to first. The researchers repeated this procedure with each infant 20 times.

The data showed that preterm 7-month-olds and preterm 10-month-olds behaved like full-term 7-month-olds, looking to the toy on the side of the screen indicated by the woman's gaze. Full-term 4-month-olds, on the other hand, tended to look randomly to either side.

This pattern of results held even when the woman indicated direction with only her eyes, while her head continued to face forward.

Together, these findings suggest that exposure to visual experience outside the womb may matter most for early gaze following.

"Combined with previous results on vision and language cognition, our results support the idea that the early steps of human cognition develops in an asynchronous way," says Pea. "Some systems are more or less sensitive to external stimulation, but others can be more influenced by biological maturation."


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Contact: Anna Mikulak
amikulak@psychologicalscience.org
202-293-9300
Association for Psychological Science
Source:Eurekalert

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