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The development of brain mechanisms for social attention in humans

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Abstract

It is known that infants are sensitive to the gaze of adults from birth. This chapter explores the types of neural processes that are at the core of the development of infant social-cognitive processing, particularly for eye gaze and joint attention. How are these processes likely to be affected by disorders such as autism? Data from studies utilizing electroencephalography and event-related potential techniques (EEG/ERPs) indicate that aspects of processing gaze are relatively advanced by 4 months of age. How these shared attention mechanisms may relate to wider domains within cognitive development is also outlined in this chapter together with how gaze may be related to semantic processing of social information.