The development of gaze following and its relation to language.

Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle 98195-7920, USA.
Developmental Science (Impact Factor: 3.89). 12/2005; 8(6):535-43. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2005.00445.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT We examined the ontogeny of gaze following by testing infants at 9, 10 and 11 months of age. Infants (N = 96) watched as an adult turned her head toward a target with either open or closed eyes. The 10- and 11-month-olds followed adult turns significantly more often in the open-eyes than the closed-eyes condition, but the 9-month-olds did not respond differentially. Although 9-month-olds may view others as 'body orienters', older infants begin to register whether others are 'visually connected' to the external world and, hence, understand adult looking in a new way. Results also showed a strong positive correlation between gaze-following behavior at 10-11 months and subsequent language scores at 18 months. Implications for social cognition are discussed in light of the developmental shift in gaze following between 9 and 11 months of age.

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