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Direct eye contact influences the neural processing of objects in 5-month-old infants

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date06/2008
JournalSocial Neuroscience
Journal number2
Volume3
Number of pages10
Pages141-150
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Do 5-month-old infants show differences in processing objects as a function of a prior interaction with an adult? Using a live ERP paradigm we assessed this question utilizing a within-subjects design. Infants saw objects during two pretest phases with an adult experimenter. We recorded event-related potentials to the presentation of objects following the interactive pretest phases. Experimental conditions differed only in the nature of eye contact between the infant and the experimenter during the pretests. In one condition the experimenter engaged the infant with direct eye contact. In a second condition the experimenter looked only at the infant's chest. We found that the negative component, related to attentional processes, showed differences between experimental conditions in left fronto-central locations. These data show that 5-month-old infants allocate more attention to objects that have been previously seen during direct eye-contact interaction. In addition, these results clarify the functional nature of the negative component.