Special Issue "The Study of Eye Movements in Infancy"

A special issue of Brain Sciences (ISSN 2076-3425).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. David Kelly
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Psychology, Keynes College, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NP, UK
Interests: eye movements; oculomotor control; cognition; infancy; face processing; developmental disorders

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In the study of infant cognition, researchers are required to assess abilities without being able to provide verbal instruction or receive verbal responses. Consequently, the measurement of looking behaviour has become a fundamental technique for investigating cognitive development in preverbal populations. While classic paradigms such as preferential looking and habituation recovery have greatly advanced our knowledge about how infants see and make sense of the world, recent advances in eye-tracking allow us to now study the precise spatial and temporal dynamics of eye movement behaviour. As a result of these advances, we are at the advent of an exciting new phase in developmental psychology and cognitive neuroscience in which we can explore infant visual and cognitive development with far greater accuracy and objectivity. In summary, the implementation of eye-tracking technology in our research has the potential to revolutionise our understanding of infant cognition.

I am therefore delighted to announce that this Special Issue will seek to compile a series of articles that use eye-tracking to explore any aspect of infant cognition, vision and/or oculomotor control. Additionally, we welcome any articles that evaluate the efficacy of different eye-tracking systems, fixation and saccade parsing algorithms, newly developed analysis tools/methods and/or data precision and robustness in general.

Dr. David Kelly
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • Eye movements
  • Visual development
  • Cognitive development
  • Oculomotor control
  • Infancy

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

Article
Infant Eye Gaze While Viewing Dynamic Faces
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(2), 231; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11020231 - 12 Feb 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1031
Abstract
Research using eye tracking methods has revealed that when viewing faces, between 6 to 10 months of age, infants begin to shift visual attention from the eye region to the mouth region. Moreover, this shift varies with stimulus characteristics and infants’ experience with [...] Read more.
Research using eye tracking methods has revealed that when viewing faces, between 6 to 10 months of age, infants begin to shift visual attention from the eye region to the mouth region. Moreover, this shift varies with stimulus characteristics and infants’ experience with faces and languages. The current study examined the eye movements of a racially diverse sample of 98 infants between 7.5 and 10.5 months of age as they viewed movies of White and Asian American women reciting a nursery rhyme (the auditory component of the movies was replaced with music to eliminate the influence of the speech on infants’ looking behavior). Using an analytic approach inspired by the multiverse analysis approach, several measures from infants’ eye gaze were examined to identify patterns that were robust across different analyses. Although in general infants preferred the lower regions of the faces, i.e., the region containing the mouth, this preference depended on the stimulus characteristics and was stronger for infants whose typical experience included faces of more races and for infants who were exposed to multiple languages. These results show how we can leverage the richness of eye tracking data with infants to add to our understanding of the factors that influence infants’ visual exploration of faces. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Study of Eye Movements in Infancy)
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Article
Clinical Characterization of Oculomotricity in Children with and without Specific Learning Disorders
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(11), 836; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10110836 - 11 Nov 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 752
Abstract
Children with specific learning disorders have been associated with oculomotor problems, with their analysis even suggested to be a potential diagnostic tool. A prospective non-randomized comparative study evaluating 59 children (6–13 years old) divided into three groups was conducted: a control group (CG) [...] Read more.
Children with specific learning disorders have been associated with oculomotor problems, with their analysis even suggested to be a potential diagnostic tool. A prospective non-randomized comparative study evaluating 59 children (6–13 years old) divided into three groups was conducted: a control group (CG) including 15 healthy emmetropic children; a group of 18 healthy children with oculomotor abnormalities (OAG); and a group of 26 children diagnosed with specific learning disorders (LDG). In all groups, besides a complete eye exam, oculomotricity was characterized with two clinical tests: Northeastern State University College of Optometry’s Oculomotor (NSUCO) and Developmental Eye Movement (DEM) tests. Concerning the NSUCO test, lower ability, precision, and head/body movement associated scorings were obtained for both smooth pursuits and saccades in OAG and LDG when compared to the CG (p < 0.001). Likewise, significantly longer time needed to read the horizontal sheet of the DEM test and a higher DEM ratio were found in OAG and LDG compared to CG (p ≤ 0.003). No differences between LDG and OAG were found in the performance with the two oculomotor tests (p ≥ 0.141). Oculomotor anomalies can be present in children with and without specific learning disorders, and therefore cannot be used as diagnostic criteria of these type of disorders. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Study of Eye Movements in Infancy)
Article
Attentional Measures of Memory in Typically Developing and Hypoxic–Ischemic Injured Infants
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(11), 823; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10110823 - 06 Nov 2020
Viewed by 457
Abstract
Hypoxic–ischemic injury (HII) at birth has been found to relate to differences in development, including decreased memory performance. The current study assessed recognition memory in 6- and 12-month-old HII infants and typically developing (TD) infants using two eye-tracking paradigms well suited to explore [...] Read more.
Hypoxic–ischemic injury (HII) at birth has been found to relate to differences in development, including decreased memory performance. The current study assessed recognition memory in 6- and 12-month-old HII infants and typically developing (TD) infants using two eye-tracking paradigms well suited to explore explicit memory processes early in life: visual paired comparison (VPC) and relational memory (RM). During the VPC, infants were familiarized to a face and then tested for their novelty preference immediately and after a two-minute delay. At 6 months, neither HII nor TD showed a VPC novelty preference at immediate delay, but at 12 months, both groups did; after the two-minute delay, no group showed a novelty preference. During RM, infants were presented with blocks containing a learning phase with three different scene–face pairs, and a test phase with one of the three scenes and all three faces appearing simultaneously. When there was no interference from other scene–face pairs between learning and test, 6-month-old TD showed evidence of an early novelty preference, but when there was interference, they revealed an early familiarity preference. For 12-month-old TD, some evidence for a novelty preference during RM was seen regardless of interference. Although HII and TD showed similar recognition memory on the VPC, when looking at RM, HII infants showed subtle differences in their attention to the familiar and novel faces as compared to their TD peers, suggesting that there might be subtle differences in the underlying memory processing mechanisms between HII and TD. More work is needed to understand how these attentional patterns might be predictive of later memory outcomes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Study of Eye Movements in Infancy)
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Article
Evidence for Attentional Phenotypes in Infancy and Their Role in Visual Cognitive Performance
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(9), 605; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10090605 - 03 Sep 2020
Viewed by 1280
Abstract
Infant visual attention rapidly develops during the first year of life, playing a pivotal role in the way infants process, learn, and respond to their visual world. It is possible that individual differences in eye movement patterns shape early experience and thus subsequent [...] Read more.
Infant visual attention rapidly develops during the first year of life, playing a pivotal role in the way infants process, learn, and respond to their visual world. It is possible that individual differences in eye movement patterns shape early experience and thus subsequent cognitive development. If this is the case, then it may be possible to identify sub-optimal attentional behaviors in infancy, before the emergence of cognitive deficit. In Experiment 1, a latent profile analysis was conducted on scores derived from the Infant Orienting with Attention (IOWA) task, a cued-attention task that measures individual differences in spatial attention and orienting proficiency. This analysis identified three profiles that varied substantially in terms of attentional efficiency. The largest of these profiles (“high flexible”, 55%) demonstrated functionally optimal patterns of attentional functioning with relatively rapid, selective, and adaptive orienting responses. The next largest group (“low reactive”, 39.6%) demonstrated low attentional sensitivity with slow, insensitive orienting responses. The smallest group (“high reactive”, 5.4%) demonstrated attentional over-sensitivity, with rapid, unselective and inaccurate orienting responses. A linear mixed effect model and growth curve analysis conducted on 5- to 11-month-old eye tracking data revealed significant stable differences in growth trajectory for each phenotype group. Results from Experiment 2 demonstrated the ability of attentional phenotypes to explain individual differences in general cognitive functioning, revealing significant between-phenotype group differences in performance on a visual short-term memory task. Taken together, results presented here demonstrate that attentional phenotypes are present early in life and predict unique patterns of growth from 5 to 11 months, and may be useful in understanding the origin of individual differences in general visuo-cognitive functioning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Study of Eye Movements in Infancy)
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Article
Dynamic Advances in Emotion Processing: Differential Attention towards the Critical Features of Dynamic Emotional Expressions in 7-Month-Old Infants
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(9), 585; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10090585 - 24 Aug 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1176
Abstract
Infants’ visual processing of emotion undergoes significant development across the first year of life, yet our knowledge regarding the mechanisms underlying these advances is limited. Additionally, infant emotion processing is commonly examined using static faces, which do not accurately depict real-world emotional displays. [...] Read more.
Infants’ visual processing of emotion undergoes significant development across the first year of life, yet our knowledge regarding the mechanisms underlying these advances is limited. Additionally, infant emotion processing is commonly examined using static faces, which do not accurately depict real-world emotional displays. The goal of this study was to characterize 7-month-olds’ visual scanning strategies when passively viewing dynamic emotional expressions to examine whether infants modify their scanning patterns depending on the emotion. Eye-tracking measures revealed differential attention towards the critical features (eyes, mouth) of expressions. The eyes captured the greatest attention for angry and neutral faces, and the mouth captured the greatest attention for happy faces. A time-course analysis further elucidated at what point during the trial differential scanning patterns emerged. The current results suggest that 7-month-olds are sensitive to the critical features of emotional expressions and scan them differently depending on the emotion. The scanning patterns presented in this study may serve as a link to understanding how infants begin to differentiate between expressions in the context of emotion recognition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Study of Eye Movements in Infancy)
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Article
Language Experience Is Associated with Infants’ Visual Attention to Speakers
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(8), 550; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10080550 - 13 Aug 2020
Viewed by 1420
Abstract
Early social-linguistic experience influences infants’ attention to faces but little is known about how infants attend to the faces of speakers engaging in conversation. Here, we examine how monolingual and bilingual infants attended to speakers during a conversation, and we tested for the [...] Read more.
Early social-linguistic experience influences infants’ attention to faces but little is known about how infants attend to the faces of speakers engaging in conversation. Here, we examine how monolingual and bilingual infants attended to speakers during a conversation, and we tested for the possibility that infants’ visual attention may be modulated by familiarity with the language being spoken. We recorded eye movements in monolingual and bilingual 15-to-24-month-olds as they watched video clips of speakers using infant-directed speech while conversing in a familiar or unfamiliar language, with each other and to the infant. Overall, findings suggest that bilingual infants visually shift attention to a speaker prior to speech onset more when an unfamiliar, rather than a familiar, language is being spoken. However, this same effect was not found for monolingual infants. Thus, infants’ familiarity with the language being spoken, and perhaps their language experiences, may modulate infants’ visual attention to speakers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Study of Eye Movements in Infancy)
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Article
Individual Differences in Infants’ Temperament Affect Face Processing
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(8), 474; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10080474 - 23 Jul 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1158
Abstract
Infants show an advantage in processing female and familiar race faces, but the effect sizes are often small, suggesting individual differences in their discrimination abilities. This research assessed whether differences in 6–10-month-olds’ temperament (surgency and orienting) predicted how they scanned individual faces varying [...] Read more.
Infants show an advantage in processing female and familiar race faces, but the effect sizes are often small, suggesting individual differences in their discrimination abilities. This research assessed whether differences in 6–10-month-olds’ temperament (surgency and orienting) predicted how they scanned individual faces varying in race and gender during familiarization and whether and how long it took them to locate the face during a visual search task. This study also examined whether infants viewing faces posing pleasant relative to neutral expressions would facilitate their discrimination of male and unfamiliar race faces. Results showed that infants’ surgency on its own or in conjunction with their orienting regularly interacted with facial characteristics to predict their scanning and location of faces. Furthermore, infants’ scanning patterns (dwell times and internal–external fixation shifts) correlated with their ability and time to locate a familiarized face. Moreover, infants who viewed faces with pleasant expressions showed better discrimination of unfamiliar race and male faces compared with infants who viewed neutral faces. Including temperament in the analyses consistently demonstrated its significance for understanding infant face processing. Findings suggest that positive interactions with other-race individuals and men might reduce processing disadvantages for those face types. Locating familiar adults in a timely manner is a crucial skill for infants to develop and these data elucidate factors influencing this ability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Study of Eye Movements in Infancy)
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Article
Infants’ Gaze Patterns for Same-Race and Other-Race Faces, and the Other-Race Effect
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 331; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060331 - 29 May 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1782
Abstract
The other-race effect (ORE) can be described as difficulties in discriminating between faces of ethnicities other than one’s own, and can already be observed at approximately 9 months of age. Recent studies also showed that infants visually explore same-and other-race faces differently. However, [...] Read more.
The other-race effect (ORE) can be described as difficulties in discriminating between faces of ethnicities other than one’s own, and can already be observed at approximately 9 months of age. Recent studies also showed that infants visually explore same-and other-race faces differently. However, it is still unclear whether infants’ looking behavior for same- and other-race faces is related to their face discrimination abilities. To investigate this question we conducted a habituation–dishabituation experiment to examine Caucasian 9-month-old infants’ gaze behavior, and their discrimination of same- and other-race faces, using eye-tracking measurements. We found that infants looked longer at the eyes of same-race faces over the course of habituation, as compared to other-race faces. After habituation, infants demonstrated a clear other-race effect by successfully discriminating between same-race faces, but not other-race faces. Importantly, the infants’ ability to discriminate between same-race faces significantly correlated with their fixation time towards the eyes of same-race faces during habituation. Thus, our findings suggest that for infants old enough to begin exhibiting the ORE, gaze behavior during habituation is related to their ability to differentiate among same-race faces, compared to other-race faces. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Study of Eye Movements in Infancy)
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Article
Attentional Flexibility Predicts A-Not-B Task Performance in 14-Month-Old-Infants: A Head-Mounted Eye Tracking Study
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(5), 279; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10050279 - 05 May 2020
Viewed by 1151
Abstract
Early individual differences in executive functions (EFs) are predictive of a range of developmental outcomes. However, despite the importance of EFs, little is known about the processes underlying these early individual differences. Therefore, we investigated the association between 14-month-old infants’ attention on a [...] Read more.
Early individual differences in executive functions (EFs) are predictive of a range of developmental outcomes. However, despite the importance of EFs, little is known about the processes underlying these early individual differences. Therefore, we investigated the association between 14-month-old infants’ attention on a reaching version of the A-not-B task and task success. We hypothesized that both strategic focused attention (measured as percentage looking time towards the correct location during delay) and attentional flexibility (measured as number of looks per second to available stimuli during delay) would relate positively to task performance. Infants performed the A-not-B task wearing a head-mounted eye tracker (N = 24). Results were trial-dependent and partially supported the hypotheses: (1) infants who were better able to flexibly shift attention between available stimuli on the first pre-switch trial showed better task performance overall; and (2) strategic focused attention to the hiding location during the first switch trial was positively related to performance on that particular trial only (trend-level effect). Thus, the study shows preliminary evidence that particularly attentional flexibility is a key factor underlying EF performance in young children. Advantages and challenges of working with head-mounted eye tracking in infants are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Study of Eye Movements in Infancy)
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Article
Caucasian Infants’ Attentional Orienting to Own- and Other-Race Faces
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(1), 53; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10010053 - 17 Jan 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1759
Abstract
Infants show preferential attention toward faces and detect faces embedded within complex naturalistic scenes. Newborn infants are insensitive to race, but rapidly develop differential processing of own- and other-race faces. In the present study, we investigated the development of attentional orienting toward own- [...] Read more.
Infants show preferential attention toward faces and detect faces embedded within complex naturalistic scenes. Newborn infants are insensitive to race, but rapidly develop differential processing of own- and other-race faces. In the present study, we investigated the development of attentional orienting toward own- and other-race faces embedded within naturalistic scenes. Infants aged six-, nine- and twelve-months did not show differences in the speed of orienting to own- and other race faces, but other-race faces held infants’ visual attention for longer. We also found a clear developmental progression in attentional capture and holding, with older infants orienting to faces faster and fixating them for longer. Results are interpreted within the context of the two-process model of face processing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Study of Eye Movements in Infancy)
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Article
Infant Understanding of Different Forms of Social Exclusion
Brain Sci. 2019, 9(9), 227; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci9090227 - 07 Sep 2019
Viewed by 1833
Abstract
In a series of eye-tracking studies, we investigated preverbal infants’ understanding of social exclusion by analyzing their gaze behaviors as they were familiarized with animations depicting social acceptance and explicit or implicit social exclusion. In addition, we implemented preferential reaching and anticipatory looking [...] Read more.
In a series of eye-tracking studies, we investigated preverbal infants’ understanding of social exclusion by analyzing their gaze behaviors as they were familiarized with animations depicting social acceptance and explicit or implicit social exclusion. In addition, we implemented preferential reaching and anticipatory looking paradigms to further assess understanding of outcomes. Across all experiments (n = 81), it was found that 7–9 month-old infants exhibited non-random visual scanning and gaze behaviors and responded systematically and above random chance in their choice of character and, to some extent, in their anticipation of the movement of a neutral character during a test trial. Together, the results suggest that not only do preverbal infants follow and understand third party social events, such as acceptance and exclusion, but that they also update their representations of particular characters as events unfold and evaluate characters on the basis of their actions, as well as the consequences of those actions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Study of Eye Movements in Infancy)
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