Infant gaze following depends on communicative signals: An eye-tracking study of 5- to 7-month-olds in Vanuatu.
ABSTRACT: Gaze is considered a crucial component of early communication between an infant and her caregiver. When communicatively addressed, infants respond aptly to others' gaze by following its direction. However, experience with face-to-face contact varies across cultures, begging the question whether infants' competencies in receiving others' communicative gaze signals are universal or culturally specific . We used eye-tracking to assess gaze-following responses of 5- to 7-month olds in Vanuatu, where face-to-face parent-infant interactions are less prevalent than in Western populations. We found that-just like Western 6-month-olds studied previously-5- to -7-month-olds living in Vanuatu followed gaze only, when communicatively addressed. That is, if presented gaze shifts were preceded by infant-directed speech, but not if they were preceded by adult-directed speech. These results are consistent with the notion that early infant gaze following is tied to infants' early emerging communicative competencies and rooted in universal mechanisms rather than being dependent on cultural specificities of early socialization.
Project description:Infants' preference for faces with direct compared to averted eye gaze, and for infant-directed over adult-directed speech, reflects early sensitivity to social communication. Here, we studied whether infant-directed speech (IDS), could affect the processing of a face with direct gaze in 4-month-olds. In a new ERP paradigm, the word 'hello' was uttered either in IDS or adult-direct speech (ADS) followed by an upright or inverted face. We show that the face-specific N290 ERP component was larger when faces were preceded by IDS relative to ADS. Crucially, this effect is specific to upright faces, whereas inverted faces preceded by IDS elicited larger attention-related P1 and Nc. These results suggest that IDS generates communicative expectations in infants. When such expectations are met by a following social stimulus - an upright face - infants are already prepared to process it. When the stimulus is a non-social one -inverted face - IDS merely increases general attention.
Project description:A fundamental question about the development of communication behavior in early life is how infants acquire adaptive communication behavior that is well-suited to their individual social environment, and how the experience of parent-child communication affects this development. The current study investigated how infants develop communication skills when their parents are visually impaired and cannot see their infants' eye gaze. We analyzed 6-min video recordings of naturalistic interaction between 14 sighted infants of blind parents (SIBP) with (a) their blind parent, and (b) a sighted experimenter. Data coded from these interactions were compared with those from 28 age-matched sighted infants of sighted parents (controls). Each infant completed two visits, at 6-10 months and 12-16 months of age. Within each interaction sample, we coded the function (initiation or response) and form (face gaze, vocalization, or action) of each infant communication behavior. When interacting with their parents, SIBP made relatively more communicative responses than initiations, and used more face gaze and fewer actions to communicate, than did controls. When interacting with a sighted experimenter, by contrast, SIBP made slightly (but significantly) more communicative initiations than controls, but otherwise used similar forms of communication. The differential communication behavior by infants of blind versus sighted parents was already apparent by 6-10 months of age, and was specific to communication with the parent. These results highlight the flexibility in the early development of human communication behavior, which enables infants to optimize their communicative bids and methods to their unique social environment. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved).
Project description:According to the natural pedagogy theory, infant gaze following is based on an understanding of the communicative intent of specific ostensive cues. However, it has remained unclear how eye contact affects this understanding and why it induces gaze following behaviour. In this study, we examined infant arousal in different gaze following contexts and whether arousal levels during eye contact predict gaze following. Twenty-five infants, ages 9-10 months participated in this study. They watched a video of an actress gazing towards one of two objects and then either looking directly into the camera to make eye contact or not showing any communicative intent. We found that eye contact led to an elevation in the infants' heart rates (HRs) and that HR during eye contact was predictive of later gaze following. Furthermore, increases in HR predicted gaze following whether it was accompanied by communicative cues or not. These findings suggest that infant gaze following behaviour is associated with both communicative cues and physiological arousal.
Project description:Prior studies of mother-infant interaction have generally used a variable-centered approach to associate face-to-face communication with psychosocial outcomes. Herein, we use a person-centered approach to identify clusters of infants who exhibit similar behavioral profiles during face-to-face communication with their mothers. Four infant communication channels were examined-gaze, facial affect, vocal affect, and head orientation-coded from videotape at a 1-s temporal resolution. We used k-means clustering to classify community infants (N = 132) into 10 groups, based on variation in the intercept and the autocorrelation function at the first time lag, representing respectively the overall level of behavior and the predictability of the infant's moment-by-moment behavioral stream, in each of the 4 communication channels. In this exploratory study, 10 clusters were identified, some with unusual levels or predictability of behavior in varying channels, and clusters associated differentially with risk outcomes (infant 4-month temperament and 12-month attachment). Distinct forms of affective dysregulation were identified: sustained negative vocal affect associated with degree of disorganization; random vocal affect associated with attachment resistance; random facial affect and vocal affect, irrespective of positive/negative valence, associated with infant difficult temperament. Clustering multiple channels of infant communication generated unique behavioral profiles and predicted 4- and 12-month outcomes, suggesting that these clusters may indeed represent natural types of infant communicative behavior, not easily observed with the naked eye, that may be useful behavioral markers of clinical risk. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
Project description:Previous studies have found that when monolingual infants are exposed to a talking face speaking in a native language, 8- and 10-month-olds attend more to the talker's mouth, whereas 12-month-olds no longer do so. It has been hypothesized that the attentional focus on the talker's mouth at 8 and 10?months of age reflects reliance on the highly salient audiovisual (AV) speech cues for the acquisition of basic speech forms and that the subsequent decline of attention to the mouth by 12?months of age reflects the emergence of basic native speech expertise. Here, we investigated whether infants may redeploy their attention to the mouth once they fully enter the word-learning phase. To test this possibility, we recorded eye gaze in monolingual English-learning 14- and 18-month-olds while they saw and heard a talker producing an English or Spanish utterance in either an infant-directed (ID) or adult-directed (AD) manner. Results indicated that the 14-month-olds attended more to the talker's mouth than to the eyes when exposed to the ID utterance and that the 18-month-olds attended more to the talker's mouth when exposed to the ID and the AD utterance. These results show that infants redeploy their attention to a talker's mouth when they enter the word acquisition phase and suggest that infants rely on the greater perceptual salience of redundant AV speech cues to acquire their lexicon.
Project description:Many studies have explored factors which influence gaze-following behavior of young infants. However, the results of empirical studies were inconsistent, and the mechanism underlying the contextual modulation of gaze following remains unclear. In order to provide valuable insight into the mechanisms underlying gaze following, we conducted computational modeling using Q-learning algorithm and simulated the learning process of infant gaze following to suggest a feasible model. In Experiment 1, we simulated how communicative cues and infant internal states affect the learning process of gaze following. The simulation indicated that the model in which communicative cues enhance infant internal states is the most feasible to explain the infant learning process. In Experiment 2, we simulated how individual differences in motivation for communication affect the learning process. The results showed that low motivation for communication can delay the learning process and decrease the frequency of gaze following. These simulations suggest that communicative cues may enhance infants' internal states and promote the development of gaze following. Also, initial social motivation may affect the learning process of social behaviors in the long term.
Project description:Emerging evidence has indicated infants' early sensitivity to acoustic cues in music. Do they interpret these cues in emotional terms to represent others' affective states? The present study examined infants' development of emotional understanding of music with a violation-of-expectation paradigm. Twelve- and 20-month-olds were presented with emotionally concordant and discordant music-face displays on alternate trials. The 20-month-olds, but not the 12-month-olds, were surprised by emotional incongruence between musical and facial expressions, suggesting their sensitivity to musical emotion. In a separate non-music task, only the 20-month-olds were able to use an actress's affective facial displays to predict her subsequent action. Interestingly, for the 20-month-olds, such emotion-action understanding correlated with sensitivity to musical expressions measured in the first task. These two abilities however did not correlate with family income, parental estimation of language and communicative skills, and quality of parent-child interaction. The findings suggest that sensitivity to musical emotion and emotion-action understanding may be supported by a generalised common capacity to represent emotion from social cues, which lays a foundation for later social-communicative development.
Project description:Although preterm infants are at risk for social deficits, interventions to improve mother-infant interaction in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) are not part of standard care (SC). Study participants were a subset from a randomized controlled trial of a new intervention for premature infants, the Family Nurture Intervention (FNI), designed to help mothers and infants establish an emotional connection. At infants' 4 months corrected age, mother-infant face-to-face interaction was filmed and coded on a 1-s time base for mother touch, infant vocal affect, mother gaze, and infant gaze. Time-series models assessed self- and interactive contingency. Comparing FNI to SC dyads, FNI mothers showed more touch and calmer touch patterns, and FNI infants showed more angry-protest but less cry. In maternal touch self-contingency, FNI mothers were more likely to sustain positive touch and to repair moments of negative touch by transitioning to positive touch. In maternal touch interactive contingency, when infants looked at mothers, FNI mothers were likely to respond with more positive touch. In infant vocal affect self-contingency, FNI infants were more likely to sustain positive vocal affect and to transition from negative to positive vocal affect. In maternal gaze interactive contingency, following infants' looking at mother, FNI mothers of male infants were more likely to look at their sons. In maternal gaze self-contingency, following mothers' looking away, FNI mothers of male infants were more likely to look at their sons. Documentation of positive effects of the FNI for 4-month mother-infant face-to-face communication is useful clinically and has important implications for an improved developmental trajectory of these infants. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved).
Project description:Speech allows humans to communicate and to navigate the social world. By 12?months, infants recognize that speech elicits appropriate responses from others. However, it is unclear how infants process dynamic communicative scenes and how their processing abilities compare with those of adults. Do infants, like adults, process communicative events while the event is occurring or only after being presented with the outcome? We examined 12-month-olds' and adults' eye movements as they watched a Communicator grasp one (target) of two objects. During the test event, the Communicator could no longer reach the objects, so she spoke or coughed to a Listener, who selected either object. Infants' and adults' patterns of looking to the actors and objects revealed that both groups immediately evaluated the Communicator's speech, but not her cough, as communicative and recognized that the Listener should select the target object only when the Communicator spoke. Furthermore, infants and adults shifted their attention between the actors and the objects in very similar ways. This suggests that 12-month-olds can quickly process communicative events as they occur with adult-like accuracy. However, differences in looking reveal that 12-month-olds process slower than adults. This early developing processing ability may allow infants to learn language and acquire knowledge from communicative interactions.
Project description:Eye gaze is an important signal in social interactions, and it plays an important role to understand what others looking in joint attention (JA) situations. JA has been examined in situations involving two people gazing at objects; however, ecologically, infants observe not only faces that gaze at objects but also those that gaze at other people. Here, we examined how eye gaze directed toward another face affect face preferences in infants. A total of 19 children were observed during a JA situation and a no-JA situation. In the JA situation, an adult face in the central position of the screen shifted her gaze to look at another adult face at a lateral position on the screen. However, during the no JA situation, the central face shifted her eye gaze away from the adult face presented on the screen. At test, for the centrally presented faces, infant looking times were longer at faces in the no JA condition. At test, for the laterally presented faces, looking times were longer at the faces in the JA condition. Thus, the adult's eye gaze biased the duration of the gaze of the infants at either the central faces or the lateral-cued faces in the preferential looking tests. These results suggest that 10-month-old infants may interpret adult gazing behavior and that this can affect the gazing behavior of infants.