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Infant face interest is associated with voice information and maternal psychological health

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>11/2014
<mark>Journal</mark>Infant Behavior and Development
Issue number4
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)597-605
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Early infant interest in their mother's face is driven by an experience based face processing system, and is associated with maternal psychological health, even within a non clinical community sample. The present study examined the role of the voice in eliciting infants’ interest in mother and stranger faces and in the association between infant face interest and maternal psychological health.

Infants aged 3.5-months were shown photographs of their mother's and a stranger's face paired with an audio recording of their mother's and a stranger's voice that was either matched (e.g., mother's face and voice) or mismatched (e.g., mother's face and stranger's voice). Infants spent more time attending to the stranger's matched face and voice than the mother's matched face and voice and the mismatched faces and voices. Thus, infants demonstrated an earlier preference for a stranger's face when given voice information than when the face is presented alone. In the present sample, maternal psychological health varied with 56.7% of mothers reporting mild mood symptoms (depression, anxiety or stress response to childbirth). Infants of mothers with significant mild maternal mood symptoms looked longer at the faces and voices compared to infants of mothers who did not report mild maternal mood symptoms. In sum, infants’ experience based face processing system is sensitive to their mothers’ maternal psychological health and the multimodal nature of faces.