Infants' sensitivity to ostensive signals, such as direct eye contact and infant- directed speech, is well documented in the literature. We investigated how infants interpret such signals by assessing common processing mechanisms devoted to them and by measuring neural responses to their compounds. In Experiment 1, we found that ostensive signals from different modalities display overlapping electrophysiological activity in 5- month-old infants, suggesting that these signals share neural processing mechanisms independently of their modality. In Experiment 2, we found that the activation to ostensive signals from different modalities is not additive to each other, but rather reflects the presence of ostension in either stimulus stream. These data support the thesis that ostensive signals obligatorily indicate to young infants that communication is directed to them.
Copyright: © 2013 Parise, Csibra. 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.