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Infant Pupil Diameter Changes in Response to Others' Positive and Negative Emotions.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Article numbere27132
Journal publication date16/11/2011
JournalPLoS ONE
Journal number11
Volume6
Number of pages10
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

It has been suggested that infants resonate emotionally to others' positive and negative affect displays, and that these responses become stronger towards emotions with negative valence around the age of 12-months. In this study we measured 6- and 12-month-old infants' changes in pupil diameter when presented with the image and sound of peers experiencing happiness, distress and an emotionally neutral state. For all participants the perception of another's distress triggered larger pupil diameters. Perceiving other's happiness also induced larger pupil diameters but for shorter time intervals. Importantly, we also found evidence for an asymmetry in autonomous arousal towards positive versus negative emotional displays. Larger pupil sizes for another's distress compared to another's happiness were recorded shortly after stimulus onset for the older infants, and in a later time window for the 6-month-olds. These findings suggest that arousal responses for negative as well as for positive emotions are present in the second half of the first postnatal year. Importantly, an asymmetry with stronger responses for negative emotions seems to be already present at this age.

Bibliographic note

Copyright: 2011 Geangu et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.