The development of gaze following and its relation to language. Developmental Science, 8, 535-543

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


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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Available from: Andrew N Meltzoff
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    • "Research over the last decades has provided abundant evidence that joint attention is a major milestone of infant social cognition (Moore & Dunham, 1995; Scaife & Bruner, 1975; Tomasello & Carpenter, 2007) because it is essential for social development, language acquisition, imitative learning, and social referencing (Baron-Cohen, 1995; Brooks & Meltzoff, 2005; Moore & Dunham, 1995; Sorce, Emde, Campos, & Klinnert, 1985). Research conducted in adults has begun to elucidate the attentional processes and neural mechanisms underlying gaze following and joint attention (Bayliss et al., 2013; Frischen et al., 2007; Lachat, Hugueville, Lemaréchal, Conty, & George, 2012; Redcay, Kleiner, & Saxe, 2012; Schilbach et al., 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: Guided by distinct theoretical frameworks (the embodiment theories, shared-signal hypothesis, and appraisal theories), we examined the effects of gaze direction and emotional expressions (joy, disgust, and neutral) of virtual characters on attention orienting and affective reactivity of participants while they were engaged in joint attention for food stimuli contrasted by preference (disliked, moderately liked, and liked). The participants were exposed to videos of avatars looking at food and displaying facial expressions with their gaze directed either toward the food only or toward the food and participants consecutively. We recorded eye-tracking responses, heart rate, facial electromyography (zygomatic, corrugator, and levator labii regions), and food wanting/liking. The avatars' joy faces increased the participants' zygomatic reactions and food liking, with mutual eye contact boosting attentional responses. Eye contact also fostered disgust reactions to disliked food, regardless of the avatars' expressions. The findings show that joint attention for food accompanied by face-to-face emotional communication elicits differential attentional and affective responses. The findings appear consistent with the appraisal theories of emotion. Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier B.V.
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    • "Integration of this information would require attention to a number of social cues. Research supporting a social pragmatic account of word learning suggests that children who are sensitive to these social cues in infancy demonstrate superior language skills later in development (Carpenter et al., 1998; Morales et al., 2000; Brooks and Meltzoff, 2005, 2008; Mundy et al., 2007). An open question is whether language deficits in autism may be driven by the aberrant patterns of social attention associated with the disorder (Klin et al., 2002; Pelphrey et al., 2002; Chawarska and Shic, 2009; Shic et al., 2011; Chawarska et al., 2013; Jones and Klin, 2013). "
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    ABSTRACT: Previous work has demonstrated that patterns of social attention hold predictive value for language development in typically developing infants. The goal of this research was to explore how patterns of attention in autistic, language delayed, and typically developing children relate to early word learning and language abilities. We tracked patterns of eye movements to faces and objects while children watched videos of a woman teaching them a series of new words. Subsequent test trials measured participants' recognition of these novel word-object pairings. Results indicated that greater attention to the speaker's mouth was related to higher scores on standardized measures of language development for autistic and typically developing children (but not for language delayed children). This effect was mediated by age for typically developing, but not autistic children. When effects of age were controlled for, attention to the mouth among language delayed participants was negatively correlated with standardized measures of language learning. Attention to the speaker's mouth and eyes while she was teaching the new words was also predictive of faster recognition of those words among autistic children. These results suggest that language delays among children with autism may be driven in part by aberrant social attention, and that the mechanisms underlying these delays may differ from those in language delayed participants without autism.
    Full-text · Article · May 2014 · Frontiers in Psychology
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    • "Communicative behaviors are presented in joint attention episodes between a mother and her infant, in which infants initiate attention for social sharing purposes, respond to behavioral requests, mother and infant give simultaneous attention to the same object or event, and reciprocate one another's behaviors (Tomasello 1995; Reyna and Pickler 2009; Meins et al. 2011). Joint attention skills are implicated in later language development and cognitive functioning (Brooks, and Meltzof 2005). As infants exhibit gaze following skills, they connect vocalizations with objects/events and imitate them. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background This study applies attachment and transactional theories in evaluating the dyadic interactions observed between a mother and her infant. Infant communication and maternal responsivity are highlighted as the medium for positive interaction. Objective The impact of individualized maternal training on mother infant communicative interaction is proposed to be positive. Methods A sample of three mothers and their infants were observed during 10 min free play sessions before and after a training intervention. The focus of the training was the principles of parenting contained in the Right-from-Birth: a Parenting Series (Grace and Lindsey in Right from birth: a parenting series guide for facilitators, Educational Broadcasting and Early Childhood Institute, Mississippi, 2003) training. A multiple baseline design was used to measure maternal responsiveness to infant communication. Positive and negative maternal responses, as well as the rate of infant communication were also measured. Results Results showed an increase in positive maternal responses, a decrease in negative maternal responses as well as an increase in the rate of infant communication. Conclusion These findings underscore the importance of training on correct interpretation of and appropriate maternal responses to infant’s communicative cues, in order to encourage positive mother-infant interactions.
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