Looking and Listening Patterns in 4- and 8- Month-Old Infants: Correspondence between Measures of Attention

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Virginia Tech

The development of perceptual-cognitive processes during infancy has been traditionally studied using visual habituation and paired-comparison techniques. There has been extensive work within the field of infant attention that has focused on the development of visual attention. Within this field, it has been well established that there are two distinct classifications of infants' visual behavior; infants with short visual fixations who perform well in a recognition task following familiarization and infants with long visual fixation with impaired performance. There are two hypotheses for the differences underlying these groups. First, that visual fixation duration is reflective of the speed of information processing such that long-looking infants process information more slowly than short-looking infants. The second hypothesis is that infants who are long-looking have difficulty disengaging and shifting their attention to another location. There has not been any work exploring how these differences manifest themselves in other modalities. Thus, this project has three purposes: (1) to explore whether group differences emerge in an auditory recognition task similar to those found in the visual recognition phase of the paired-comparison task, (2) to better understand how performance differences in the visual task correspond to any observed differences in an auditory task, and (3) to identify any potential mechanisms which may account for the observed differences in group performance on an auditory task.

Infant attention, heart rate, visual and auditory perception