[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The prediction of events and the creation of expectancies about their time course is a crucial aspect of an infant's mental life, but temporal mechanisms underlying these predictions are obscure. Scalar timing, in which the ratio of mean durations to their standard deviations is held constant, enables a person to use an estimate of the mean for its standard deviation. It is one efficient mechanism that may facilitate predictability and the creation of expectancies in mother-infant interaction. We illustrate this mechanism with the dyadic gaze rhythm of mother and infant looking at and looking away from each other's faces. Two groups of Hi- and Lo-Distress mothers were created using self-reported depression, anxiety, self-criticism and childhood experiences. Lo-Distress infants (controls) used scalar timing 100% of the time, about double that of Hi-Distress infants. Lo-Distress mothers used scalar timing about nine times as much as Hi-Distress mothers. The diminished use of scalar timing patterns in Hi-Distress mothers and infants may make the anticipation of each other's gaze patterns more difficult for both partners.
Journal of Psycholinguistic Research 09/2008; 37(5):293-307. · 0.59 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We propose stochastic models for the interactive regulation of gaze on/off each partner's face in mother/infant gaze as well as “turn-taking”. We infer that a Poisson timing mechanism indeed underlies the negative exponential distributions of gaze, providing a simplifying organizational principle for mother-infant communication, enabling both partners to predict the other's behavior. The Poisson rate constants quantify how likely infant or mother is to gaze on or off in comparison to each other. Mothers are far more likely to initiate gaze than infants, and infants are far more likely to terminate gaze than mothers. Initiation of a gaze “turn” (the individual unilaterally initiates gaze) follows a simple Poisson rule for infants, but mothers initiate a gaze turn with the second occurrence of infants' gaze termination. These turn findings suggest that mothers are using more history than infants in gaze turn regulation. For the infant, all three processes (gaze on, gaze off; gaze turn) are regulated by a Poisson process.