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Sex Differences in Human Neonatal Social Perception

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Abstract

Sexual dimorphism in sociability has been documented in humans. The present study aimed to ascertain whether the sexual dimorphism is a result of biological or socio-cultural differences between the two sexes. 102 human neonates, who by definition have not yet been influenced by social and cultural factors, were tested to see if there was a difference in looking time at a face (social object) and a mobile (physical-mechanical object). Results showed that the male infants showed a stronger interest in the physical-mechanical mobile while the female infants showed a stronger interest in the face. The results of this research clearly demonstrate that sex differences are in part biological in origin.

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... These contingent responses can occur with social (caregiver and infant) or non-social (infant and object) stimuli. There is evidence that females develop and maintain a higher sensitivity to social stimuli early in life in comparison to males (Connellan et al., 2001). Less frequent social input was thus hypothesized to have a greater negative impact on females, and less socially sensitive males were hypothesized to benefit more from transitivity available via both social and non-social stimuli. ...
... Despite the discrepancy in ASD prevalence between males and females, gender differences in symptomology do not seem to appear until later in development (Reinhardt et al., 2015). Some scholars posit that biases in ASD diagnosis toward males may be related to more readily identified hyperactivity or aggression in males in contrast to a higher social and communicative sensitivity cultivated in females (Connellan et al., 2001;Halladay et al., 2015). The male prevalence of ASD may thus have to do with typically occurring differences between genders rather than anything specific to ASD itself . ...
... The male prevalence of ASD may thus have to do with typically occurring differences between genders rather than anything specific to ASD itself . Specifically, it may be due to a divergence in sensitivity to social and physical stimuli affecting male and female language development (Connellan et al., 2001). In addition, where females may acquire language more holistically across syntax, semantics, and pragmatics, males may learn language in a more compartmentalized manner (McGillicuddy-De Lisi & De Lisi, 2002). ...
... In other sessions, studies are chosen to help contrast and debate, such as when discussing sex differences in neonatal social perception (e.g. Connellan et al. 2000, Escudero et al. 2013). As we show in the student experience section below, students often struggle to see the relevance of studies with neonates for their classrooms. ...
... The study by Connellan et al. (2000), for example, has proven very influential, being cited over 600 times since its publication. Their results were in line with the hypothesis of innate sex differences in preferences, with girls assumed to be innately attracted to people and boys to objects. ...
... Escudero et al. 2013), it provided us with a good opportunity to discuss methodology within this complex topic, and how this might influence the debate. The methodology implemented by Connellan et al. (2000), for instance, could not exclude experimenter effects (see Doyen et al. 2012). The overall small sample showed very little difference for the majority of the neonates investigated. ...
Article
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What leads less women to pursue STEM careers? What does research find about differences in girls’ and boys’ educational trajectories? Students and faculty may have heard about gender bias, the leaky pipeline, gender stereotypes, or gender differences in the brain, but it is often difficult to grasp the underlying complexity of these topics. As social scientists in a technical university, we think that learning more closely about research in this field is helpful in developing a balanced and critical perspective. We have thus developed a course on gender issues in education and STEM for students in the teacher education program at ETH Zurich. In this paper, we first introduce some of the main issues in the context of gender and STEM, around which our course is designed. We then describe the pillars of our course. The course is interactive, with students presenting and critically discussing psychological and educational research. We walk students through the various controversies in the field: the nature-nurture question, gender differences vs. similarities, biases vs. interests, gender stereotypes and potential interventions. In a final assignment, students in small groups integrate several papers into a blog-post. Finally, we describe how students respond to our course, and discuss the challenges we as lecturers experience throughout.
... The debate about whether there are "boy toys" and "girl toys" or just toys has swung back and forth across recent decades. Some studies suggest that male children prefer "male-typical" toys (i.e., vehicles, construction tools, guns) and female children prefer "female-typical" toys (i.e., dishes, dolls accessories, cosmetics) (Connor & Serbin, 1977;Fulcher & Hayes, 2018;Golden & Jacoby, 2018;Liss, 1981;Pasterski et al., 2005;Reich, Black, & Foliaki, 2018;Zosuls et al., 2009), whereas others present mixed (e.g., Connellan, Baron-Cohen, Wheelwright, Batki, & Ahluwalia, 2000) or counterevidence (e.g., Servin, Bohlin, & Berlin, 1999). Further, it remains unclear when any gendered toy preferences emerge and what factors may drive such preferences. ...
... Results of infants' preference for gender-congruent toys are mixed. Connellan et al. (2000) showed that more male newborns look longer to a physical-mechanical mobile with a picture made from a scrambled face than to a whole face picture (43% vs. 25% of the sample), whereas more female newborns look longer to a whole face picture (36% vs. 17%). However, the same study finds 32% of male and 47% of female neonates do not show any preference between the pictures. ...
... In addition, Experiment 2 showed that male infants tended to prefer cars more than female infants when compared to dolls. This finding is in line with previous literature showing female infants' consistent preference for dolls (Bem, 1989;Blakemore, LaRue, & Olejnik, 1979;Connellan et al., 2000;Lutchmaya & Baron-Cohen, 2002;Serbin et al., 2001;Signorella, Bigler, & Liben, 1993;Thompson, 1975), as well as the meta-analysis (Lauer & Yhang, 2016) from which trends of stable gender-specific toy preferences for female infants and age-related development for male infants were shown. Possible explanations for this developmental difference in gender-specific preferences are discussed in the following sections. ...
Article
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In contrast to the anecdotal claim that “male infants like cars and female infants like dolls,” previous studies have reported mixed findings for gender‐related toy preferences in infancy. In Experiment 1, we explored the emergence of gender‐related preferences using face–car pairs (Experiment 1a, n = 51, 6–20 months) or face–stove pairs (Experiment 1b, n = 54, 6–20 months). In Experiment 2 (n = 42, 14–16 months), we explore the effect of toy properties, infants' past toy exposure, activity levels, and parental attitudes on such preferences using a wider range of toys. For both studies, infants demonstrated a general preference for faced stimuli over other objects, except for male infants who showed no preference between dolls and cars at around 15 months. Infants' prior experience participating in motor‐intensive activities, with wheeled toys and parental attitudes appeared to relate to female infants' preferences for dynamic toys. These results indicate a range of factors influence gendered toy preferences and suggest that nurture plays an important role.
... The literature demonstrating gender-typed child behavior during infancy is limited. Some reports show that infant girls are more socially involved and tend to orient more to a face or a voice (Connellan et al., 2000), and to seek more physical and relational contact with their parents than do infant boys in the dyadic interaction (Benenson et al., 1999). Infant girls have also been found to be more able to discriminate between emotional expressions (McClure, 2000), and to display stronger preferences for dolls than do boys (Alexander et al., 2009). ...
... For instance, girls are usually found to be more responsive, involved and positively engaged during dyadic interactions with both parents as compared with boys (Lovas, 2005;Nordahl et al., 2014). Infant girls are also shown to orient more to a face or a voice (Connellan et al., 2000) and to evidence a higher occurrence of relational dyadic behavior than infant boys (Benenson et al., 1999), possibly promoting higher dyadic mutuality. Similarly, another study found that infant girls may be more able to discriminate between emotional expressions (McClure, 2000), and tend to display stronger preferences to dolls than boys (Alexander et al., 2009). ...
Article
This study investigates differences in dyadic mother–infant and father–infant interaction patterns at infant age 12 months, and the relation between different parent–infant gender compositions and the dyadic interaction. Data were drawn from a large‐scale, population‐based Norwegian community sample comprising 671 mother–infant and 337 father–infant interactions. The Early Relational Health Screen (ERHS), a screening method for observing dyadic parent–infant interactions, was used to assess the parent–infant interactions. Scores on the ERHS were employed to investigate dyadic differences in the overall interaction scores, and dyadic interaction on seven sub‐dimensions between mother–infant and father–infant pairs. The relation between different parent–infant gender compositions and the dyadic interaction scores was also examined. As expected in a normative sample, most parent–infant interactions received scores in the upper rating levels. Differences between mother–infant and father–infant patterns were generally small, but mother–infant dyads tended to obtain slightly higher scores. The mother–infant dyads received higher scores on the dimensions of engagement and enjoyment, but no other significant differences between the parent–infant pairs were found for the remaining dimensions. We did not find evidence for a moderation effect of child gender. However, parent–daughter dyads received somewhat higher scores than the parent–son dyads.
... In our study, girls seem to be attracted by the numerical correspondence between objects and mechanical sounds at an earlier developmental phase (5 months), than boys (7 months). This might be partially explained by the findings concerning sexual dimorphism documented in humans (see Connellan, Baron-Cohen, Wheelwright, Bakti & Ahluwalia, 2000). It has been found that male neonates show a stronger interest in the physical -mechanical stimuli than girls do. ...
... In Conditions with face -voice, girls -compared to boys-seemed to look longer at the stimuli. Relative studies with younger infants have showed that female neonates present a stronger interest in the face than male infants (Connellan et al., 2000). It seems that, in the particular task, girls' attention is focused on the qualitative (social vs. non-social) discrimination of the visual-auditory stimuli. ...
Article
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In the present cross-sectional experimental study we investigated infants’ early ability to intermodally detect numerosity of visual-auditory object-like and social stimuli. We assumed that presentation of face – voice stimuli would distract infants’ attention from detection of numerical invariant. Seventy-eight infants (aged 5, 7 and 9 months) participated in four experimental Conditions (simultaneously projected pairs of identical objects, non-identical objects, objects projected together with familiar face and objects projected together with unfamiliar face). Visual stimuli in each trial varied in numerosity (1 -2 / 1-3 / 2 -3) and they were accompanied by piano sounds or voice sounds also varying in numerosity (one, two or three sounds in La tonality). By means of preferential looking technique, we measured infants’ fixation of attention to the visual stimulus that numerically matched with the sound. When object-like stimuli were projected, infants –except 5-month-old boys –tended to intermodally detect numerical invariant. Shape similarity of the objects facilitated infants’ intermodal detection of numerosity. When socially salient stimuli were co-presented with object-like stimuli, infants preferred to look at the face, ignoring numerosity of the auditory stimulus. Nor sound quality (piano vs. voice) neither familiarity of the face (mother’s face vs. stranger woman’s face) affected infants’ perception. Although intermodal detection of perceptual cues is a primary function of both face and number perception, each one of these perceptual systems seems to follow a different developmental path.
... In a similar vein, infant girls spend more time looking at faces than boys do (Connellan, Baron-Cohen, Wheelwright, Batki, & Ahluwalia, 2000). The advantage of females in face processing can be significantly observed specifically for female faces: Research suggests that females perform at a higher level for female faces than for male faces (Cross, Cross, & Daly, 1971;Lewin & Herlitz, 2002;Wright & Sladden, 2003). ...
... The finding of a higher general face recognition in these participants mirrors studies demonstrating that females outperform males in tasks involving face recognition, independent of face age and ethnicity (Herlitz & Lovén, 2013;McBain et al., 2009;Rehnman & Herlitz, 2006, 2007. This finding also mirrors research demonstrating that females are better at recognizing and interpreting emotional facial expressions (McClure, 2000) as that infant girls spend more time looking at faces than boys (Connellan et al., 2000). The advantage females have in face processing has been attributed to a general greater interest in and knowledge of social aspects of the world (Kaplan, 1978;Kimura, 1999;Rehnman & Herlitz, 2007). ...
Article
A substantial body of research has assessed the effect of gender on face recognition; however, little is known about the effect of relationship status on face recognition. In this study, we assessed for the first time how relationship status impacts face recognition by asking 62 male and female participants to decide whether they had previously encountered faces of males and females. Participants were also asked to fill a socio-demographic variables questionnaire which included, among other information, question about their relationship status (i.e., single vs. in a relationship). A significant effect of relationship status on face recognition was observed only in males; namely, single males demonstrated higher face recognition than males in relationships, whereas similar face recognition was observed in single and in-relationship females. More specifically, single males demonstrated higher recognition for female than for male faces, whereas no differences were observed in single females, males in relationships, or in females in relationship. Single males seem to be motivated by mating opportunity and, thus, unlike single females or males and females in relationships, devote high attentional resources to processing faces of the opposite gender.
... Argumen ini dibangun atas dasar adanya preferensi perilaku telah muncul sejak awal masa kehidupan bahkan sebelum sosialisasi dari lingkungan secara masif terjadi dan tidak bergantung pada pengetahuan mengenai gender. Connellan et al. (2000) dalam eksperimennya pada bayi berusia 40 minggu (10 bulan), menemukan adanya preferensi natural pada bayi perempuan yang menunjukkan ketertarikan lebih kuat pada objek sosial, sedangkan bayi laki-laki memiliki ketertarikan yang lebih kuat dalam melihat objek visualmekanik. ...
... Keterampilan berempati yang lebih menonjol pada perempuan ini juga terlihat secara natural dari pereferensi permainan anak, dimana anak perempuan lebih cenderung memilih permainan yang berkaitan dengan objek sosial, melibatkan aspek sosio-emosi ataupun aktivitas yang melibatkan pengasuhan/perawatan. Dalam beberapa studi yang dirangkum oleh Auyeung et al. (2009), anak perempuan secara natural lebih suka mainan boneka atau hewan sedangkan anak laki-laki lebih cenderung suka permainan yang berjenis konstruksi ataupun kendaraan. Connellan et al. (2000) dalam eksperimennya juga membuktikan bahwa bahwa tendensi ketertarikan sosial antara anak laki-laki dan perempuan merupakan bawaan biologis. Dalam studinya terhadap 102 bayi yang rata-rata memiliki usia 40 minggu, bayi perempuan ternyatra menunjukkan ketertarikan yang lebih pada objek sosial, sedangkan bayi laki-laki memiliki ketertarikan yang lebih kuat dalam melihat objek visual-mekanik. ...
... Many sex differences in sociability are present early in development. Within the first 3 days after birth, female neonates, compared to males, appear cuddlier (Benenson, Philippoussis, & Leeb, 1999), maintain eye contact longer (Hittelman & Dickes, 1979), and orient more to faces and voices (Connellan, Baron-Cohen, Wheelwright, Batki, & Ahluwalia, 2000). In the first week after birth, female neonates also display more contagious crying, possibly an early marker of empathy (Sagi & Hoffman, 1976), and higher rates of neonatal imitation, a purported early social skill (Nagy, Kompagne, Orvos, & Pal, 2007). ...
... A similar finding has been reported in older children: Females engage in associative play (3-4 years), cooperative play (4-5 years), and social interactions with peers (5-6 years) systematically earlier than males of the same age; as females move on to develop other complex social skills, males display more associative play (4-5 years) and cooperative play (5--6 years) than females of the same age (Barbu et al., 2011). In our study, females may no longer display a strong social preference at 2 months as they did when they were newborns (Connellan et al., 2000) because they have already moved on to develop other advanced social abilities (e.g., attending more to dynamic or socially responsive faces). This pattern of development is also seen in emotion regulation, with female infants, from 3 to 4 months of age, and male infants at 6 months of age, displaying the same emotion regulation strategy, demonstrating more distress and negative emotions during a still face interaction with their caregiver (Mayes & Carter, 1990;Weinberg et al., 1999) while female infants at 6 months of age begin employing social avoidance (e.g., looking away from their caregiver) to regulate their emotions (Weinberg et al., 1999). ...
Article
Females generally attend more to social information than males; however, little is known about the early development of these sex differences. With eye tracking, 2-month olds' (N = 101; 44 females) social orienting to faces was measured within four-item image arrays. Infants were more likely to detect human faces compared to objects, suggesting a functional face detection system. Unexpectedly, males looked longer at human faces than females, and only males looked faster and longer at human faces compared to objects. Females, in contrast, looked less at human faces relative to animal faces and objects, appearing socially disinterested. Notably, this is the first report of a male face detection advantage at any age. These findings suggest a unique stage in early infant social development.
... As in Experiment 2, it has to be highlighted that a trend towards an OGB is present in both female and male participants, even if in the present task it reached the significance only for females. Several studies showed a general face recognition advantage in females (Bowles et al., 2009;Connellan, Baron-Cohen, Wheelwright, Batki, & Ahluwalia, 2000;Hall, 1978;Sommer, Hildebrandt, Kunina-Habenicht, Schacht, & Wilhelm, 2013), as well as a faster face processing in females than in males (Bowles et al., 2009;Godard & Fiori, 2010), and it has been proposed that this effect is related to a greater attention towards social stimuli in females ( Baron-Cohen, 2002). However, there are many studies supporting the idea that this advantage is specific for female faces (Lewin & Herlitz, 2002;Lovén, Herlitz, & Rehnman, 2011), confirming a female OGB. ...
... The tachistoscopic condition also revealed a gender difference, according to which female participants showed a stronger left bias than male participants. As highlighted previously, a number of studies showed a face recognition advantage and a faster face processing in females than in males (Bowles et al., 2009;Connellan et al., 2000;Godard & Fiori, 2010;Hall, 1978;Sommer et al., 2013), suggesting that this difference could be related to the greater attention towards social stimuli in females ( Baron-Cohen, 2002). We can speculate that the female advantage in face processing, taken together with the well-established LFB in face perception and the right-hemispheric specialization in facial analysis, is the reason of the gender difference we found only in tachistoscopic presentation. ...
Article
Anorthoscopy is a presentation mode in which an image is shown sliding behind a slit-shaped aperture, so that it is visible only part by part and never in its entirety. With the aims to assess (1) whether the processing of complex stimuli (faces) correctly occurs in anorthoscopy, and (2) whether the Own-Gender Bias (OGB: the better recognition of stimuli belonging to the same gender of the observer: faster and more accurate) and the Left-Face Bias (LFB: the preference to analyze the left half of the face) occur in such a part by part presentation, we presented female and male faces as whole stimuli (Experiment 1) and in anorthoscopy (Experiments 2 and 3), as well as female/male chimeric faces (Experiment 4), during a gender categorization task. Experiment 1 confirmed that participants correctly categorized the gender of faces, but the OGB was not found. In Experiments 2 and 3 we manipulated the direction (Experiment 2: upward/downward; Experiment 3: leftward/rightward), the speed (slow and fast) of the sliding faces, and the width of the aperture (small and large). Both tasks revealed that facial gender was correctly categorized in anorthoscopy. The OGB was found, but only for males/females in Experiments 2/3, respectively. In Experiment 4 the LFB emerged only in the tachistoscopic session, suggesting that this perceptual bias does not extend to anorthoscopy.
... One explanation for the stronger association between infant's self-comforting behavior and ToM in female children might be, that female infants are more sensitive to social signals, as it was shown that newborn and 12-month-old females show higher preferences for social stimuli than non-social stimuli in comparison to males (Connellan et al., 2000;Lutchmaya and Baron-Cohen, 2002). It is possible, that female infants are more sensitive to identify and adapt to insensitive maternal caregiving and that they are able to perpetuate the self-directed regulatory style into later development. ...
Article
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A milestone of child development is theory of mind (ToM): the ability to attribute mental states, especially beliefs and desires, to other persons and to understand that their behavior is guided by mental states. The learning process about the mental world also takes place in social communication and interaction, beginning in infancy. Infancy is assumed to be a sensitive period for the development of social skills through interaction. Due to limited self-regulatory skills, infants depend on sensitive behavior of their caregivers to regulate affective states and physiological arousal, and in turn, mutually regulated affects allow the infant to gradually acquire the capability to self-regulate negative affective states. Effective and adequate affect regulation is an important prerequisite for environmental interaction and thus for the development of socio-emotional skills. The present study investigated the relation of self-regulatory abilities in infancy and later ToM in pre-school aged children of clinically depressed mothers and healthy controls. The sample comprised of N = 55 mother–child dyads, n = 22 diagnosed with postpartum or lifetime depression according to DSM-IV and n = 33 healthy controls. Mother–infant-interaction was videotaped during the Face-to-Face Still-Face paradigm. At 3 and 42 months postpartum mothers were interviewed with the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I Disorders (SCID-I) to evaluate maternal psychopathological status according to DSM-IV. At the age of M = 4.0 years, children’s ToM abilities were assessed using content-false-belief and location-false-belief tasks. The results of this study show that contrary to our hypotheses, maternal depression did not impair the development of children’s ToM-abilities per se . Rather, an interaction effect highlights the role of infant’s self-comforting behavior during mother–infant interaction in infancy (3 months postpartum) for ToM-development at pre-school age assessed with the Maxi-task; this association was distinct for female in comparison to male children. The results of this longitudinal study shed light on the discussion, how maternal depression influences child development and point in the direction that self-comforting behaviors in infancy can also be seen as a resource.
... Another argument in favor of a biological basis of gender differences in empathy is that human female infants exhibit rudimentary forms of empathy more strongly than male infants, responding more strongly to social emotional stimuli than male infants. For instance, female neonates cry more often and for longer when hearing another infant cry (e.g., Simner, 1971), they make more eye contact (Hittelman and Dickes, 1979), and more likely to orient to faces (Connellan et al., 2000). While these findings do not necessarily mean that females have a genetic predisposition to be more empathetic or to take someone else's perspective, these behavioral differences show that female infants are more socially interested and, therefore, have more opportunities to learn about other people's states and perspectives. ...
Article
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Bilingual speakers have often been found to be superior in taking the perspective of another person. Also, females are commonly found to have enhanced perspective taking (PT) abilities compared with males, with male PT being generally more easily affected by external factors. The present study investigated whether bilingualism improves PT in males more strongly than in females. In total, 108 bilingual and 108 matched monolingual adults, with equal numbers of males and females, filled in the PT subscale of the Interpersonal Reactivity index. While monolinguals showed the typical result of females scoring higher on PT than males, scores of male and female bilinguals did not differ, with both bilingual groups scoring as high as female monolinguals. Thus, bilingualism enhanced self-reported PT only in males, suggesting that male PT can be enhanced through socialization.
... Esta conclusión se basa en los resultados de un experimento realizado con bebes recién nacidos en el cual se les presentaba una persona activa y expresiva o un objeto inanimado de similar tamaño. Los bebés varones miraban durante más tiempo al objeto y las bebés niñas miraban más tiempo a la persona [17]. A partir de este resultado se interpretó que los bebes varones, al focalizarse en objetos, se convierten en "sistematizadores" que se involucran más con el mundo mecánico y con los sistemas abstractos como las matemáticas [18]. ...
Conference Paper
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2 | Resumen: Actualmente se conoce que existen redes cerebrales específicas responsables de capacidades básicas que están estrechamente relacionadas con el aprendizaje de las matemáticas y la lectura. Estas capacidades se observan temprano en los bebés y son parte del "kit inicial" para entender números o palabras escritas. Este curso se enfocará en tres temas principales: 1) las capacidades neurocognitivas y la competencia académica en el desarrollo típico y atípico; 2) las herramientas para el cribado, perfiles y capacitación de las capacidades neurocognitivas; 3) los nuevos programas para mejorar el desarrollo neurocognitivo en los estudiantes. Se discutirá la implicación de estas cuestiones en las prácticas y políticas educativas. 3 | Contenidos
... From the first post-natal days, sex differences are expressed in human behavior. Female neonates and young girls prefer looking at human faces, while male infants look more at mechanical mobiles (LoBue & DeLoache, 2009;Connellan et al., 2000). ...
Preprint
The origins of bodily sex are well understood but consensus on origins for gender are missing. While gonadal sex and sexual orientation are accepted as emanating from genetic and hormonal templates, gender’s existence, when it is acknowledged, currently has so far emanated from either social origins or a nebulous ‘somewhere’ in the brain. Although the characteristics of sex-related behavior relative to the physicality of reproduction are clearly dimorphic, other cognitive behaviors relative to reproduction have not been explicitly identified and presented. This article synthesizes important research to present a biological location of gender as opposed to sex. These cognitive behaviors can be differentially linked with reproduction throughout the lifespan. A physiological location for gender in the human phenotype may help advance this research further.
... Dans cet article, Baron-Cohen et coll. prétendent être les premiers à prouver qu'il existe des différences notables et importantes dans le comportement des bébés de différents sexes [4]. Ils soutiennent que de façon générale, les garçons naissent avec un plus grand intérêt pour les objets mécaniques et abstraits et qu'en revanche, les filles sont dotées de meilleures compétences sociales. ...
... Infant girls also show stronger visual preferences for an object with human attributes than for a mechanical object (Alexander et al., 2009), while the reverse has been observed among infant boys presenting a pervasive visual interest for mechanical devices by birth (Connellan et al., 2000) until the first year of life (Benenson et al., 2004). ...
Article
The topic of typical sex and gender difference in empathy is examined in both a developmental and neuroscientific perspective. Empathy is construed as a multi-layered phenomenon with various degrees of complexity unfolding in ontogeny. The different components of empathy (i.e., affective, cognitive, and prosocial motivation) will be discussed as they interact and are expressed behaviorally. Significant sex/gender differences in empathy are discussed in relation to putative bottom-up or top-down processes underlying empathetic responses. The early onset and the pervasive presence of such sex/gender differences throughout the lifespan are further discussed in light of social and neurobiological modeling factors, including early socialization, brain's structural/functional variances, as well as genetics and hormonal factors.
... Indeed, the effect of sex hormones on brain development in utero seems to account for many of the stereotypical differences between men and women, differences that have been observed even prior to any cultural influences. A study of 1-day-old infants, for example, revealed that the girls preferred to look at faces, and the boys preferred to look at mechanical objects (Connelan et al., 2000). Interestingly, girls exposed to high testosterone levels in the womb (due to a disorder of sexual development known as congenital adrenal hyperplasia) tend to have more male-typical personality traits and toy preferences (Nordenstrom et al., 2002;Matthews et al., 2009). ...
Article
In this article, I explore difficult and sensitive questions regarding the nature of transgender identity claims and the appropriate medical treatment for those suffering from gender dysphoria. I first analyze conceptions of transgender identity, highlighting the prominence of the wrong-body narrative and its dualist presuppositions. I then briefly argue that dualism is false because our bodily identity (including our body’s biological organization for sexual reproduction as male or female) is essential and intrinsic to our overall personal identity and explain why a sound, nondualist anthropology implies that gender identity cannot be entirely divorced from sexual identity. Finally, I make the case that arguments in favor of hormonal and surgical treatments for gender dysphoria rest on this mistaken dualist anthropology, and that these treatments therefore give false hope to those suffering from gender dysphoria, while causing irreversible bodily harm and diverting attention from underlying psychological problems that often need to be addressed. I also briefly discuss how these philosophical claims relate to empirical studies on the outcomes of hormonal and surgical treatments for gender dysphoria and to testimonies of transgender individuals who regret having undergone these treatments.
... showed that in 12-month-old infants, male infants made less eye contact than female infants. Also, male infants looked toward faces less than females (Connellan et al., 2000;. ...
... In humans, reduced functional connectivity of the fusiform face area is associated with developmental prosopagnosia (Lohse et al., 2016). The sex difference in functional connectivity we have identified in this region is especially interesting in the context of behavioural data in which female neonates, compared to males, show increased preference for looking at faces (Connellan et al., 2000). Sex differences in visual attention to social stimuli have also been described in older infants (Alexander et al., 2009) and in other newborn primates (Simpson et al., 2016). ...
Article
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The Developing Human Connectome Project (dHCP) is an Open Science project which provides the first large sample of neonatal functional MRI (fMRI) data with high temporal and spatial resolution. This data enables mapping of intrinsic functional connectivity between spatially distributed brain regions under normal and adverse perinatal circumstances, offering a framework to study the ontogeny of large-scale brain organisation in humans. Here, we characterise in unprecedented detail the maturation and integrity of resting-state networks (RSNs) at term-equivalent age in 337 infants (including 65 born preterm). First, we applied group independent component analysis (ICA) to define 11 RSNs in term-born infants scanned at 43.5-44.5 weeks postmenstrual age (PMA). Adult-like topography was observed in RSNs encompassing primary sensorimotor, visual and auditory cortices. Among six higher-order, association RSNs, analogues of the adult networks for language and ocular control were identified, but a complete default mode network precursor was not. Next, we regressed the subject-level datasets from an independent cohort of infants scanned at 37-43.5 weeks PMA against the group-level RSNs to test for the effects of age, sex and preterm birth. Brain mapping in term-born infants revealed areas of positive association with age across four of six association RSNs, indicating active maturation in functional connectivity from 37 to 43.5 weeks PMA. Female infants showed increased connectivity in inferotemporal regions of the visual association network. Preterm birth was associated with striking impairments of functional connectivity across all RSNs in a dose-dependent manner; conversely, connectivity of the superior parietal lobules within the lateral motor network was abnormally increased in preterm infants, suggesting a possible mechanism for specific difficulties such as developmental coordination disorder which occur frequently in preterm children. Overall, we find a robust, modular, symmetrical functional brain organisation at normal term age. A complete set of adult-equivalent primary RSNs is already instated, alongside emerging connectivity in immature association RSNs, consistent with a primary-to-higher-order ontogenetic sequence of brain development. The early developmental disruption imposed by preterm birth is associated with extensive alterations in functional connectivity.
... Although male infants persisted in their attempts to reestablish connection, they often took longer to do so than female infants, a finding that researchers posit as either biological or socialized (Weinberg et al., 1999). Some researchers have insisted that female infants are more "hardwired" for connection than boys by drawing upon a singular, flawed study on babies' gendered preferences for toys with faces or colorful mobiles (Connellan et al., 2000). These results have been refuted empirically (see Eliot, 2010), although there are sustained differences in other infant behaviors such as grip strength or skull circumference. ...
... Sex differences in socio-emotional processing begin in early development and persist into adulthood (Connellan et al., 2000;Knickmeyer and Baron-Cohen, 2006;Proverbio, 2017;Olderbak et al., 2019). For example, female children and adults score higher on empathy compared to male counterparts Auyeung et al., 2009). ...
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Background: Approximately 50,000 U.S. teens with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) become adults every year, however little is known regarding how age influences social cognition and if men and women with ASD are differentially impacted across the adult lifespan. Social cognition declines non-linearly with age in neurotypical (NT) adults. Moreover, sex differences have been observed on RME tasks in NT adults but not adults with ASD, although aging effects have been largely ignored. Objective: This cross-sectional study examined the influence of age and sex on social cognition in adults with ASD compared to NT adults. Methods: The Reading the Mind in the Eyes (RME) task was administered to evaluate the theory of mind abilities in 95 adults with ASD and 82 NT adults ages 18–71 years. The main effects of diagnosis, age, and sex, as well as two-way and three-way interaction were modeled using linear and quadratic aging terms in a multiple regression analysis. Results: A main effect of diagnosis was observed, indicating poorer performance in adults with ASD relative to NT adults. Age and sex interactions were nonsignificant. Discussion: We replicated previous findings of reduced theory of mind (ToM) abilities in adults with ASD, compared to NT adults. While interactions were nonsignificant, visual inspection of quadratic age curves indicated the possibility of unique ToM trajectories in men and women with and without ASD that should be investigated in larger longitudinal studies.
... Females show earlier and stronger social development (Barbu et al., 2011), including greater social communication skills (Frazier et al., 2014), and appear to be relatively protected from ASD and related neurodevelopmental conditions (Zablotsky et al., 2019). Prior research suggests that stronger social attention in females is observable even in neonates (Connellan et al., 2000). As an early-developing cognitive process, social attention differences are likely to be a key early mediator of later differences in more complex social behaviors, such as F I G U R E 4 Receiver operating characteristic curves with support vector machine model probabilities predicting any developmental disability (a-blue) and autism spectrum disorder diagnosis (b-orange). ...
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The primary objectives of this study were to evaluate the structure and age‐related stability of social attention in English and Arabic‐speaking youth and to compare social attention between children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), other developmental disabilities (DD), and typically‐developing controls. Eye‐tracking data were collected from US (N = 270) and Qatari (N = 242) youth ages 1–17, including children evaluated for possible ASD. Participants viewed 44 stimuli from seven social paradigms. Fixation was computed for areas of interest within each stimulus. Latent variable models examined the structure of social attention. Generalized estimating equation models examined the effect of age, sex, culture, and diagnostic group on social attention. The best‐fitting model included a general social attention factor and six specific factors. Cultural differences in social attention were minimal and social attention was stable across age (r = 0.03), but females showed significantly greater social attention than males (d = 0.28). Social attention was weaker in DD (d = −0.17) and lowest in ASD (d = −0.38) relative to controls. Differences were of sufficient magnitude across areas‐of‐interest to reliably differentiate DD from controls (AUC = 0.80) and ASD‐only from all other cases (AUC = 0.76). A social attention dimension that represents an early‐life preference for socially salient information was identified. This preference was cross‐culturally consistent and stable across development but stronger in females and weaker in DD, especially ASD. Given rapid and easy‐to‐collect remote eye tracking administration, social attention measurement may be useful for developmental monitoring. Acquisition of population norms, analogous to height/weight/head circumference, might enhance early screening and tracking of neurodevelopment. Lay Summary This research found that social attention is a single dimension of behavior that represents a strong preference for social stimuli, is consistent across cultures, stable across age, and stronger in females. Children with developmental disabilities had lower levels of social attention than neurotypical children and children with autism spectrum disorder had the lowest levels of social attention.
... Finally, our sample had a male-female imbalance, since we had only five female infants out of seventeen participants. Nevertheless, this imbalance regarding the sex of our participants is unlikely to undermine our results, since studies with children and adults suggest an advantage of females over males in the perception of point-light displays: e.g., in a fMRI study, female brain responses to coherent versus scrambled PLDs were enhanced relative to male subjects (Anderson et al., 2013); see also (Connellan, Baron-Cohen, Wheelwright, Batki, & Ahluwalia, 2000;Sokolov, Krüger, Enck, Krägeloh-Mann, & Pavlova, 2011). Therefore, this limitation in our sample does not seem to bias the main conclusion of the paperin fact, despite the reduced number of female participants, a significant response associated with only the coherent PLW was still found. ...
Article
Biological motion perception is a key component of action perception contributing to social cognition in crucial ways. Contemporary neuroimaging studies show that biological motion is processed differently in the human brain from other types of motion. In particular, the right posterior Superior Temporal Sulcus (rpSTS), an area known for its central role in social perception, has been consistently associated with the perception of biological motion in the mature brain. By contrast, most findings investigating the development of biological motion perception in infancy come from behavioral studies, and far less is known regarding the right STS’ role in processing biological motion. The current study used fNIRS to measure brain activation to biological motion in the rSTS region of 7–8-month-old infants. Infants were presented with two conditions: an approaching coherent motion of a person walking (coherent point-light-walker, PLW); and a spatially scrambled version of this display, where the global configuration of a person walking was disrupted (scrambled PLW). We found a functional activation, i.e., a significant increase in HbO2 concentration in relation to baseline, in the right middle-posterior temporal cortex only when infants viewed the coherent point-light-walker. This activation statistically differed from the scrambled point-light-walker, and no significant activations were found for viewing the scrambled motion. Our study adds evidence pointing to rSTS’ sensitivity to the global human configuration in biological motion processing during infancy. The rSTS seems thus to become functionally specialized in biological motion configuration as early as at 7–8 months of age.
... 71 The sex difference in functional connectivity we have identified in this region is especially interesting in the context of behavioural data in which female neonates, compared to males, show increased preference for looking at faces. 72 Sex differences in visual attention to social stimuli have also been described in older infants 73 and in other newborn primates. 74 Structural brain development is sexually dimorphic, with small differences in tissue morphometry observed across the lifespan, frequently involving the temporal lobes, and under the influence of foetal testosterone in males. ...
... Some gender-based differences in our behavior emerge so early on that they can only have arisen in the womb. As early as the first day after birth, girl babies prefer to look at faces, while boy babies prefer to look at mechanical moving objects (Connellan et al., 2000). At 1 year of age, girls already make more eye contact than boys, while girls exposed to too much testosterone in the womb make less eye contact later in childhood (Baron-Cohen et al., 2005). ...
Chapter
Gender identity (an individual's perception of being male or female) and sexual orientation (heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality) are programmed into our brain during early development. During the intrauterine period in the second half of pregnancy, a testosterone surge masculinizes the fetal male brain. If such a testosterone surge does not occur, this will result in a feminine brain. As sexual differentiation of the brain takes place at a much later stage in development than sexual differentiation of the genitals, these two processes can be influenced independently of each other and can result in gender dysphoria. Nature produces a great variability for all aspects of sexual differentiation of the brain. Mechanisms involved in sexual differentiation of the brain include hormones, genetics, epigenetics, endocrine disruptors, immune response, and self-organization. Furthermore, structural and functional differences in the hypothalamus relating to gender dysphoria and sexual orientation are described in this review. All the genetic, postmortem, and in vivo scanning observations support the neurobiological theory about the origin of gender dysphoria, i.e., it is the sizes of brain structures, the neuron numbers, the molecular composition, functions, and connectivity of brain structures that determine our gender identity or sexual orientation. There is no evidence that one's postnatal social environment plays a crucial role in the development of gender identity or sexual orientation.
... We additionally observed gender differences in infants' attention to internal face features during the dynamic messages and their subsequent gaze cueing responses. Unlike past studies (Connellan et al., 2000;Gluckman & Johnson, 2013), we found that male and female infants showed similar overall looking to the videos. However, female infants showed increased attention to the eyes throughout the dynamic videos. ...
Article
Infants often experience interactions in which caregivers use dynamic messages to convey their affective and communicative intent. These dynamic emotional messages may shape the development of emotion discrimination skills and shared attention by influencing infants’ attention to internal facial features and their responses to eye gaze cues. However, past research examining infants’ responses to emotional faces has predominantly focused on classic, stereotyped expressions (e.g., happy, sad, angry) that may not reflect the variability that infants experience in their daily interactions. The present study therefore examined forty-two 6-month-old infants’ attention to eyes vs. mouth and gaze cueing responses across multiple dynamic emotional messages that are common to infant-directed interactions. Overall, infants looked more to the eyes during messages with negative affect, but this increased attention to the eyes during these message conditions did not directly facilitate gaze cueing. Infants instead showed reliable gaze cueing only after messages with positive and neutral affect. We additionally observed gender differences in infants’ attention to internal face features and subsequent gaze cueing responses. Female infants spent more time looking at the eyes during the dynamic emotional messages and showed increased initial orienting and longer looking to gaze-cued objects following positive messages, whereas male infants showed these gaze cueing effects following neutral messages. These results suggest that variability in caregivers’ communication can shape infants’ attention to and processing of emotion and gaze information.
... The genetic factor is evident even in oneday-old babies, as Cambridge University researcher, Jennifer Connellan, found when she studied the response of one-day-old infants to either a face or a mechanical mobile. 8 Baby girls preferred the face while the baby boys were more fascinated by the mobile. ...
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When Lady Gaga released the song Born This Way in February 2011, the response was phenomenal. The song reached number one in 19 countries, including Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland and Sweden. In the United States, it topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for six weeks. And it became the fastest-selling song in iTunes history, selling one million copies in five days. Why?
... Similarly, this effect has been found in some studies with adults, where women are reported to have better memory for female faces compared to men (see review by Herlitz & Loven, 2013). Some proposed explanations to this effect are 1) we have larger female than male faces experience during early years as most infants are taken care by female primary caregivers (Rennel & Davis, 2008) 2) infant girls attend and have more eye-to-eye contact than boys (Connellan et al, 2000). ...
Thesis
The ability to recognize and categorise different faces proficiently has social advantages. This thesis addresses two questions: 1) how differential experience affects the development of face processing, specifically in two areas: recognition and categorising of faces and 2) how differential experience affects the way children use phenotype cues in detecting kinship relation. Four studies were conducted: The effect of differential experience (EDE) in infants face recognition (Study 1); The EDE in children and adult face recognition (Study 2); The EDE on children categorisation of faces (Study 3) and the EDE on pre-schoolers detection of kinship relations among stranger faces (Study 4)In study 1, face recognition was compared between infants from a multiracial population (Malaysia) and infants from a monoracial population (UK). We investigated face recognition of 4 and 9 months old Chinese infants from Malaysia using female and male faces that are of infants own-race (Chinese), experienced other-race (Malay) and less experienced other-race (Caucasian White). 4-month-olds recognized Chinese female faces, while 9-month-olds recognized Chinese and Malaysian female faces. Infants did not recognize male faces. British infants, on the other hand, recognized the faces of women and men of their own type. It appears that for infants born and raised in a multiracial environment, there is a developmental shift from a female based own-race recognition advantage to a female based own and experienced other-race advantage that may relate to infants’ social and caregiving experiences.In study 2, the other race effect was investigated in Malaysian adults and children. In adults, with increasing exposure to multi-races over the years, Malaysian adults develop equal ability to recognise own and frequently exposed other-race faces. In children, development of own-race recognition advantage to high-frequency other-race recognition advantage begins to change in childhood. While it appears that certain exposure to other-race faces affects the ORE, the relationship between exposure and face recognition is inconsistent within the Malaysian children tested indicating the ORE is still malleable during childhood.In study 3, 7 and 9-year-old Malaysian children and adult’s categorization of (a) own-race, (b) high-frequency other-race and (c) low-frequency other-race faces were investigated. Whereas the other-race categorization advantage was found in the accuracy data of Malay adults, other aspects of performance were supportive of either the social categorization or perceptual expertise accounts and were dependent on the race (Malay vs. Chinese) or age (child vs. adult) of the participants. Of particular significance is the finding that Malaysian Chinese children and adults categorized own-race Chinese faces more rapidly than high-frequency other-race Malay faces. Thus the other-race categorization advantage seems to be more an advantage for racial categories of lesser experience regardless of whether these face categories are own-race or other-race.In study 4, we examined whether the ability to detect kinship in unrelated faces in preschool children was influenced by their exposure to different race faces. We compared pre-schoolers born and raised in a multiracial environment (Malaysia) and those raised in a monoracial environment (France). The multiracial environment did give an advantage in detection of kinship performance, pre-schoolers from mixed-race families were better in the kinship-matching task performance. The results suggest that perhaps a direct experience with mixed race families is a key for children to understand biological inheritance.Taken together, the results provide insights on the EDE in face recognition, categorisation and kinship detection.
... As well as marked variation within the sexes, there are also important differences between the sexes in the ageing process. This is not a surprising revelation if we take into account that sexodimorphic features can be found even during the in utero period (Dearden et al., 2018), are expressed behaviourally just a few hours after birth (Connellan et al., 2000) and affect the whole process of growing and behaving through infancy, youth and adulthood (e.g. Duren et al., 2013;Ngun et al., 2011). ...
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Developments in the last century have led to an unprecedented increase in life expectancy. These changes open opportunities for humans to grow and develop in healthy and adaptive ways, adding life to years as well as years to life. There are also challenges, however - as we live longer, a greater number of people will experience chronic illness and disability, often linked to lifestyle factors. The current paper advances an argument that there are fundamental biological sex differences which, sometimes directly and sometime mediated by lifestyle factors, underpin the marked differences in morbidity and mortality that we find between the sexes. Furthermore, we argue that it is necessary to consider sex as a key factor in research on healthy ageing, allowing for the possibility that different patterns exist between males and females, and that therefore different approaches and interventions are required to optimise healthy ageing in both sexes.
... The effect size 57 of this difference is around +0.80, meaning that 79% of men are more interested in things, whereas about 79% of women are more interested in people: o from the day they can see, baby girls look at faces than more baby boys do, who look at moving and mechanical objects more, this was even tested in neonatal babies (e.g. Connellan et al., 2000). This phenomenon is often referred to as the 'People versus Things' difference and is best explained by prenatal hormonal exposure (e.g. ...
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Evolutionary Psychology is in line with evolutionary biology and offers testable hypotheses and retrodic- tions. EP has become a multidisciplinary research domain, gathering the brightest re- searchers from different fields of study, including biology, anthropology, medicine, and psychology. Evolutionary psychology provides new ways of thinking about literally every topic in psychology and thus can be used as a framework to serve as a first test for midlevel or mini theories. If we really want to know how our psychology works, we need to study biology and the in- teraction of biology with our environment, just as biologists need to know chemistry and physics. Understanding human nature better will help us find strategies to counter phe- nomena we dislike such as warfare, racial or sexual discrimination, workplace bullying, unsound internal competition reducing the beneficial outputs of collaboration, etc.
... Adams et al., 1995;Fivush et al., 2000;Garside & Klimes-Dougan, 2002;Goodwin, 2006;Malatesta & Haviland, 1982); more attunement to social stimuli, such as faces, voices, and gestures (e.g. Connellan et al., 2000;Hittelman & Dickes, 1979;Mundy et al., 2007;Osofsky & O'Connell, 1977); and more accurate assumption of others' perspectives (e.g. pretend play; Harrop et al., 2017). ...
Article
The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, 2nd-edition (ADOS-2) Toddler Module is the current gold-standard measure of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a neurodevelopmental condition more frequently diagnosed in toddler boys than girls. Some evidence suggests that behaviors assessed by the Toddler Module may capture an ASD phenotype that is more common among boys than girls. Focus on these behaviors may contribute to sex differences in ASD diagnoses. Particularly, the ADOS-2 may equivalently weight social communication behaviors on which boys and girls are expected to look similar and behaviors that which girls may, due to early socialization, perform differently than boys. As a consequence, the Toddler Module may fail to identify ASD in girls who should qualify for the diagnosis. The current study examined the possibility that some ADOS-2 items may function differently for boys and girls by testing the degree to which eight items equivalently related to a social communication latent factor across sexes in toddlers with suspected ASD. Inconsistent with hypotheses, tests of differential item functioning revealed no evidence of sex differences, suggesting that the Toddler Module assesses these eight items similarly for boys and girls. Examination of factor loadings point to Creativity/Imagination as an area of interest for future research. Lay Abstract When toddlers are suspected of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the gold-standard assessment technique is with the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, 2nd edition (ADOS-2) Toddler Module, a behavioral observation system. ASD is a neurodevelopmental condition more frequently diagnosed in toddler boys than in toddler girls. There is some evidence that the ADOS-2 assesses behaviors that are more characteristic of boys with ASD than girls. Thus, it is possible that focusing on these behaviors contributes at least in part to why more boys are diagnosed than girls. Specifically, girls may show more social skills than boys during the ADOS-2 assessment due to their socialization histories, which may lead to missed diagnoses of ASD in toddler girls. The current study examined eight social behaviors assessed by the ADOS-2 in a sample of toddlers with suspected ASD to see if they contributed differently to the total score of those items. Examination of those items suggested that those social communication behaviors work the same for boys and girls with suspected ASD, which was inconsistent with hypotheses. However, examination of particular items raises the possibility of examining creative/imaginative play as an area for future research.
... One cannot rule out, however, that sex-linked infant behaviors may elicit these differences in maternal behaviors. For example, when the two sexes were compared in one study (Connellan et al., 2000), male neonates exhibited a stronger interest in a physical-mechanical mobile, whereas female infants showed greater interest in a face (but see Maylott et al., 2021). In non-human primates, female infants reared in a neonatal nursery, where they have no experience with adult monkeys, look longer at computer generated faces and engage in more social affiliative behaviors with their human caregivers than males (Simpson et al., 2016). ...
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A μ-opioid receptor (OPRM1) single-nucleotide-polymorphism, found in both humans and rhesus macaques mediates the mother-infant attachment bond. Because mothers treat their sons and daughters differently, it is somewhat surprising that the role of infant sex has not been assessed in the context of a maternal-OPRM1-genotype-by-infant-sex interaction. The present study investigates the effect of maternal-OPRM1-genotype and infant sex on mother-infant behaviors. Over the first 6 months of offspring life, mother-infant behavioral data assessing attachment quality was collected twice weekly from a large number of rhesus monkey mother-infant pairs (N = 161 dyads; n = 64 female infants, n = 97 male infants). Mothers were genotyped for OPRM1 variation. Factor analysis of the observed behaviors showed two factors: Attachment (maternal-infant cradling, rejections, and infant approaches and leaves), and Maternal Restraints (mother restrains infant, preventing exploration). Further analyses showed a two-way, maternal-genotype-by-infant-sex interaction for both factors. For Attachment, mothers with the CC genotype cradled and restrained (Maternal Restraints) their female infants more and rejected them less, when compared to female infants of CG mothers. Perhaps as a consequence, female infants of CC genotype mothers approached and left their mothers less often, when compared to female infants of CG mothers, likely an indication that female infants from mothers with CG genotype play a greater role in maintaining the mother-infant bond than do female infants from CC genotype mothers. This finding may also indicate a more secure attachment in infants from CC genotype mothers. Unlike female infants, on average, the mother-infant relationship of dyads with a male infant was largely undifferentiated by maternal genotype. These findings suggest that, in contrast to female infants from CG mothers, CC mothers and their female infants appear to have a closer mother-infant relationship which may portend close life-long bonds, as mothers and female offspring remain together throughout life. Male offspring appear to have a more aloof mother-infant bond regardless of OPRM1-genotype. The results of this study indicate that maternal-OPRM1 variation mediates mother-infant attachment behaviors for female infants and has less effect for male infants. This suggests that offspring sex should be included in studies investigating the effect of maternal-OPRM1 genotype on the mother-infant attachment relationship.
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To date, a deficit-oriented approach dominates autism spectrum disorder (ASD) research, including studies of infant siblings of children with ASD at high risk (HR) for the disabilities associated with this disorder. Despite scientific advances regarding early ASD-related risk, there remains little systematic investigation of positive development, limiting the scope of research and quite possibly a deeper understanding of pathways toward and away from ASD-related impairments. In this paper, we argue that integrating a resilience framework into early ASD research has the potential to enhance knowledge on prodromal course, phenotypic heterogeneity, and developmental processes of risk and adaptation. We delineate a developmental systems resilience framework with particular reference to HR infants. To illustrate the utility of a resilience perspective, we consider the “female protective effect” and other evidence of adaptation in the face of ASD-related risk. We suggest that a resilience framework invites focal questions about the nature, timing, levels, interactions, and mechanisms by which positive adaptation occurs in relation to risk and developmental pathways toward and away from ASD-related difficulties. We conclude with recommendations for future research, including more focus on adaptive development and multisystem processes, pathways away from disorder, and reconsideration of extant evidence within an integrated risk-and-resilience framework.
Thesis
This thesis explored the influence of X-linked genes on the development of face- processing abilities. It assessed face-processing abilities in women with Turner syndrome (TS) who have just one, instead of two, X-chromosomes. Study One assessed the nature and severity of face processing deficits by applying a diverse battery of neuropsychological tests to 45,Xm and control females. Women with TS performed at below average levels in terms of face and emotion recognition (particularly fearful faces) despite processing faces in a typical configural manner. Study Two found equivalent deficits in 45,Xp women. Using Voxel Based Morphometry, Study Three found evidence for increased volume of the amygdalae and orbito-frental cortices in women with TS. Because males, like 45,X females, have a single X-chromosome, Study Four sought to identify whether there was any sexual dimorphism in face processing abilities - there was not. However, differences were found between normal males and females in terms of correlations between face and emotion recognition task performance. These differences were similar to those seen in 45,Xm compared with 45,Xp females and are consistent with the hypothesis that imprinted X-linked genes influence functional mechanisms that are relevant to social cognition. Together, the results of these studies suggest a role for X-linked genes in the typical development of face processing abilities. This role might involve the development of structures involved in social and emotional processing, including the amygdala and orbito-frontal cortices. It is suggested that affective responses to faces may have an important role in our subsequent memory for them. Ways in which issues raised by these studies could be explored further are discussed.
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The theory of natural pedagogy provides a model of social learning based on the direct communicative ostensive relation and aimed to the transfer of generic cultural knowledge. The pedagogical transmission of information originates from an explicit manifestation of teaching made by knowledgeable adults, who are naturally inclined to manifestly provide their cultural baggage to naïve conspecifics. The domain of transferable knowledge encompasses artifact functions, novel means actions, first words, gestural symbols, social practices, and rituals. This teaching process can be fast and efficient in virtue of a natural inclination possessed by infants to seek information and decode signals of ostensive communication. In this sense, the natural pedagogy represents, as the two proponents – György Gergey and Gergely Csibra – claim, «a communicative system of mutual design specialized for the fast and efficient transfer of new and relevant cultural knowledge from knowledge able to ignorant conspecifics». This book suggests that natural pedagogy utilises early belief attribution competences, which are employed by infants in a variety of contexts to approach and navigate the social world. Therefore, the natural pedagogy, in cooperation with the early mindreading system, may represent one of the most efficient adaptive strategies to firmly create that deep wittgensteinian «nest of propositions» which build cultural shared beliefs structures to be relied upon and followed.
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Self-face recognition is closely related to self-awareness and mental health. Although perceived threats influence self-face recognition, whether and how threats in social and natural scenes affect self-face recognition remain unclear. In addition, men and women show different sensitivities to social and natural threats. The current study explored how scene and sex modulate the effect of threats on self-face recognition. Men and women judged the familiarity of a target face (self, friend, or stranger) in a social or natural scene (threatening vs. neutral). In women, socially threatening scenes (vs. socially neutral scenes) inhibited the speed of recognizing self- and friend-faces but not stranger-faces, whereas in men, naturally threatening scenes (vs. naturally neutral scenes) inhibited the accuracy of recognizing stranger-faces but not self- or friend-faces. Our findings suggest that scenes containing social threats only affected facial recognition in women and caused them to spend more time processing self-and friend-faces, whereas scenes with natural threats only affected facial recognition in men by decreasing the accuracy for recognizing stranger-faces to indirectly ensure high accuracy for recognizing self- and friend-faces.
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Reflective function (RF) is the capacity to reflect on one’s own thinking and feelings, as well as on that of others. It involves an increasingly complex awareness that there is more than what is visible on the surface. Most studies of RF have focused on its significance for self-development and interpersonal relationships in dyadic and family contexts. In this article, I suggest that by imparting a more accurate perception of the intra- and interpersonal reality and interrelatedness, RF is inextricably related to concern and to reaching others in widening circles. I further suggest that obstacles to its development and realization can be found at the individual, relational, and sociopolitical levels. I conclude that the construct of RF both captures and facilitates the connection between psychology and ethics, and that psychologists play a key role in exploring the conditions that affect the realization of RF, and in promoting social change in general.
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Neurodevelopmental disorders occur more frequently in boys than in girls and often differ in presentation between the sexes. The sex differences in prevalence and presentation of autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, communication disorders, specific learning disabilities, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, Tourette's syndrome, and epilepsy are discussed, as well as sex differences in the patterns of comorbidities between these disorders. Prominent theories have been proposed to explain sex biases. These include genetic factors, sex hormones, sociological factors, cognitive differences between the sexes, and environmental insult. Despite the large body of research reviewed in this chapter, many aspects of sex-related effects in neurodevelopmental disorders remain poorly understood.
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There is tentative evidence that infants can learn preferences through evaluative conditioning to socioemotional stimuli. However, the early development of evaluative conditioning and the factors that may explain infants’ capacity to learn through evaluative conditioning are not well understood. Infants (N = 319; 50.2% boys) participated in a longitudinal study where an evaluative conditioning paradigm using socioemotional stimuli was conducted on two occasions (when infants were 7 and 14 months old, on average). We tested whether repeatedly pairing neutral stimuli (triangular and square shapes) with affective stimuli (angry and happy faces) affects infants’ preferences for these shapes. At both timepoints, the majority of infants did not choose the shape that was paired with happy faces, indicating that, in general, learning through evaluative conditioning was not present. However, as expected, individual differences were evident such that infants who spent more time fixating on faces compared to shapes (face‐preferrers) during the conditioning trials were significantly more likely than non‐face‐preferrers to choose the shape paired with happy faces, and this effect strengthened with increasing age.
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It is a well-known and widely lamented fact that men outnumber women in a number of fields in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths). The most commonly discussed explanations for the gender gaps are discrimination and socialization, and the most common policy prescriptions target those ostensible causes. However, a great deal of evidence in the behavioural sciences suggests that discrimination and socialization are only part of the story. The purpose of this paper is to highlight other aspects of the story: aspects that are commonly overlooked or downplayed. More precisely, the paper has two main aims. The first is to examine the evidence that factors other than workplace discrimination contribute to the gender gaps in STEM. These include relatively large average sex differences in career and lifestyle preferences, and relatively small average differences in cognitive aptitudes – some favouring males, others favouring females – which are associated with progressively larger differences the further above the average one looks. The second aim is to examine the evidence suggesting that these sex differences are not purely a product of social factors but also have a substantial biological (i.e. inherited) component. A more complete picture of the causes of the unequal sex ratios in STEM may productively inform policy discussions.
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İşletmelerin pazarlama karar ve stratejilerinin belirlenmesinde cinsiyet kavramı, etkili bir pazar bölümleme değişkenidir. Ürünlerin ve hizmetlerin hedef kitlenin isteklerine ve ihtiyaçlarına hitap edebilmesi, hedef kitlenin dikkatini çekebilmesi etkin bir pazarlama iletişimi ile mümkün olabilmektedir. Satın alma davranışını önemli ölçüde şekillendiren reklamlar, pazarlama iletişimi açısından hedef kitleye ulaşmada anahtar rol üstlenmektedir. Hedef kitlenin, reklamı yapılan ürüne veya hizmete dikkatinin çekilmesi, ürünün veya hizmetin akılda kalıcılığının sağlanması, rakiplerinden ayırt edilebilir olması için geliştirilen unsurları ifade eden reklamda çekicilik ve strateji, bu çalışma ile irdelenen başlıklar arasındadır. Bu kapsamda dezenfektan reklamlarında kullanılan görsellerin reklamda çekicilik ve strateji oluştururken cinsiyet kaynaklı; algılama farklılıkları, dikkat süre ve sayılarındaki farklılıklar, nöropazarlama araştırma tekniklerinden EyeTracking yöntemi ile ortaya konulmaya çalışılmıştır. Bu çalışma; Fırat Üniversitesi Pazarlama ve Nöropazarlama Araştırma Merkezi kapsamında 15 kadın ve 15 erkek olmak üzere toplam 30 gönüllü katılımcı ile gerçekleştirilmiştir. Araştırmada, hedef kitlenin Eye Tracking analiz yöntemi ile dezenfektan reklamlarında kullanılan görsellerin farkındalık düzeyleri araştırılmış ve görsel etki düzeyleri belirlenmiştir. Bu sebeple, dezenfektan reklamları aracılığı ile kadın ve erkeğin marka seçimindeki farklı kararlarının altında yatan gerçek sebepler anlaşılmaya çalışılmıştır. Böylece, dezenfektan reklamları üzerindeki görsel etki düzeylerinin cinsiyete göre farklılaşma düzeyleri tespit edilmiştir.
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Eye contact enhances memory for spoken words. The present research examined if a similar effect occurs when one observes rather than experiences eye contact, and whether the effect extends to situations where physical presence is eliminated (i.e., video-conferencing). In two studies a live investigator read words aloud while making eye contact with a participant, their partner, or neither individual (baseline); either in person (Experiment 1) or over Skype (Experiment 2). Replicating and extending previous work, experiencing eye contact improved word recognition. However, observing eye contact between a partner and the investigator resulted in a significant decline in memory performance only when experienced in person (Experiment 1). The results indicate that during a group-interaction, eye contact communicates for whom the message is intended, and this increases memory performance for the person who experiences eye contact, and decreases performance for the excluded individual when eye contact is observed in person.
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In keiner anderen Entwicklungsphase erweitert das Kind seine Fähigkeiten mehr als im Alter zwischen ein und vier Jahren. Es entwickelt ein Verständnis für räumliche, zeitliche und kausale Zusammenhänge, lernt die Sprache und wie es mit anderen Menschen wirksam kommunizieren kann. Außerdem entwickelt es die Fähigkeit, die Wünsche und Vorstellungen von anderen Menschen zu verstehen – die sogenannte Theory of Mind. Auch erweitert es seinen Bewegungsradius und wird zunehmend selbstständiger. Gleichzeitig bleibt es aber emotional stark an seine Bezugspersonen gebunden und kann nicht ohne sie sein. Besonders in der frühen Kindheit zeigt sich, wie unterschiedlich rasch die Entwicklung von Kindern erfolgt (beispielsweise in der motorischen Entwicklung). Auch weist die Sauberkeitsentwicklung eine außerordentlich große Spannbreite auf. Diese große Variabilität kann stark verunsichern, ist aber durchaus normal. Besonders die frühe Kindheit zeigt, dass jedes Kind sein eigenes Entwicklungstempo hat.
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Most theory of mind (ToM) tests are designed for subjects with a mental age of 4–6 years. There are very few ToM tests for subjects who are older or more able than this. We report a new test of ToM, designed for children 7–11 years old. The task involves recognizing faux pas. Study 1 tested 7–9, and 11-year-old normal children. Results showed that the ability to detect faux pas developed with age and that there was a differential developmental profile between the two sexes (female superiority). Study 2 tested children with Asperger syndrome (AS) or high-functioning autism (HFA), selected for being able to pass traditional 4- to 6-year level (first- and second-order) false belief tests. Results showed that whereas normal 9- to 11-year-old children were skilled at detecting faux pas, children with AS or HFA were impaired on this task. Study 3 reports a refinement in the test, employing control stimuli. This replicated the results from Study 2. Some patients with AS or HFA were able to recognize faux pas but still produced them. Future research should assess faux pas production.
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Turner's syndrome is a sporadic disorder of human females in which all or part of one X chromosome is deleted. Intelligence is usually normal but social adjustment problems are common. Here we report a study of 80 females with Turner's syndrome and a single X chromosome, in 55 of which the X was maternally derived (45,X[m]) and in 25 it was of paternal origin (45,X[p]). Members of the 45,X[p] group were significantly better adjusted, with superior verbal and higher-order executive function skills, which mediate social interactions. Our observations suggest that there is a genetic locus for social cognition, which is imprinted and is not expressed from the maternally derived X chromosome. Neuropsychological and molecular investigations of eight females with partial deletions of the short arm of the X chromosome indicate that the putative imprinted locus escapes X-inactivation, and probably lies on Xq or close to the centromere on Xp. If expressed only from the X chromosome of paternal origin, the existence of this locus could explain why 46,XY males (whose single X chromosome is maternal) are more vulnerable to developmental disorders of language and social cognition, such as autism, than are 46,XX females.
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Sex hormones have been shown to determine basic sexual differentiation in utero, and to influence the level of certain cognitive abilities. Sex differences in brain morphology are known to be present and to undergo systematic changes throughout the prenatal period. In the adult, brain organization for basic speech and related motor praxic function is found to be more focally organized within the left hemisphere in women than in men. Such functions are particularly dependent on the left anterior region in women, and are not less asymmetrically organized than in men. Some verbal intelligence functions less specifically tied to speech mechanisms may be more bilaterally organized in women, but no such statement can be made for all verbal or indeed nonverbal functions. Adult cognitive sex differences may to some extent reflect pre- and peri-natal sexual dimorphism in brain organization at critical stages of development. Possible evolutionary bases for sex differences in brain organization are discussed.
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Examined differences between children with autism and control children in the ability to follow another person's direction of gaze. In Exp 1, 12 5.6–17.4 yr olds with autism, 11 Down syndrome 4.5–12.3 yr olds and 12 normal 5.6–5.9 yr olds were given 2 tasks. The gaze monitoring task (GMT) measured the Ss' spontaneous tendency to follow gaze direction in response to another person's change of head and eye movement. The visual perspective taking task (VPT) measured the S's ability to compute and report what the other person was looking at. Results show that the majority of Down syndrome and normal Ss passed both tasks. Ss with autism failed the GMT. This failure could not have been due to a lack of the relevant geometric skill, as they passed the VPT. This geometric skill was examined further in Exp 2, using a fine discrimination task which tested children's ability to discriminate degrees of change in the orientation of gaze. Children with autism were well within their developmental age level on this task. These results indicate a dissociation between (impaired) spontaneous monitoring and (intact) geometric analysis of gaze-direction. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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A number of studies have reported that most children with autism fail theory of mind tasks. It is unclear why certain children with autism pass such tests and what might be different about these subjects. In the present study, the role of age and verbal ability in theory of mind task performance was explored. Data were pooled from 70 autistic, 34 mentally handicapped, and 70 normal young subjects, previously tested for a number of different studies. The analysis suggested that children with autism required far higher verbal mental age to pass false belief tasks than did other subjects. While normally developing children had a 50% probability of passing both tasks at the verbal mental age of 4 years, autistic subjects took more than twice as long to reach this probability of success (at the advanced verbal mental age of 9-2). Possible causal relations between verbal ability and the ability to represent mental states are discussed.
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A procedure previously used to investigate imperative communication in non-human primates was applied to young children, some of whom had autism. The goal was to examine closely how requests are made in a problem-solving situation. Each child's spontaneous strategies to obtain an out-of-reach object were analyzed in terms of the ways in which he or she used the adult who was present. Results showed that fewer children with autism used a strategy of treating the person as a "subject", and that more children with autism used object-centred strategies.
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Previous studies have found a subgroup of people with autism or Asperger Syndrome who pass second-order tests of theory of mind. However, such tests have a ceiling in developmental terms corresponding to a mental age of about 6 years. It is therefore impossible to say if such individuals are intact or impaired in their theory of mind skills. We report the performance of very high functioning adults with autism or Asperger Syndrome on an adult test of theory of mind ability. The task involved inferring the mental state of a person just from the information in photographs of a person's eyes. Relative to age-matched normal controls and a clinical control group (adults with Tourette Syndrome), the group with autism and Asperger Syndrome were significantly impaired on this task. The autism and Asperger Syndrome sample was also impaired on Happé's strange stories tasks. In contrast, they were unimpaired on two control tasks: recognising gender from the eye region of the face, and recognising basic emotions from the whole face. This provides evidence for subtle mindreading deficits in very high functioning individuals on the autistic continuum.
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Spontaneous shifts of attention were observed in autistic, typically developing, and nonautistic developmentally delayed infants. Three types of attention shifting behaviour were observed; (1) between an object and another object, (2) between an object and a person, and (3) between a person and another person. The two control groups shifted attention more frequently between an object and a person than between an object and another object or between a person and another person. The infants with autism showed a different pattern, shifting attention between an object and another object more than any other type of shift. Furthermore, infants with autism showed fewer shifts of attention between an object and a person, and between person and person, than did the two control groups. They also spent less time overall looking at people and looked more briefly at people and for longer durations at objects, compared to the two control groups. These results indicate an abnormality in social orientation in autism even at the early age of 20 months.
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Human infants under 5 days of age consistently looked more at black-and-white patterns than at plain colored surfaces, which indicates the innate ability to perceive form.
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