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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.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6618848 | BioStudies | 2019-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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