Developmental Science

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Volume 8 Issue 6 (November 2005), Pages F31-F36, 459-620

The development of gaze following and its relation to language (pages 535-543)

Abstract

We examined the ontogeny of gaze following by testing infants at 9, 10 and 11 months of age. Infants (N = 96) watched as an adult turned her head toward a target with either open or closed eyes. The 10‐ and 11‐month‐olds followed adult turns significantly more often in the open‐eyes than the closed‐eyes condition, but the 9‐month‐olds did not respond differentially. Although 9‐month‐olds may view others as ‘body orienters’, older infants begin to register whether others are ‘visually connected’ to the external world and, hence, understand adult looking in a new way. Results also showed a strong positive correlation between gaze‐following behavior at 10–11 months and subsequent language scores at 18 months. Implications for social cognition are discussed in light of the developmental shift in gaze following between 9 and 11 months of age.

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