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Do surprised faces affect infants’ attention toward novel objects?

By S. Hoehl and S. Pauen


Previous research has shown that expressions of fear have an effect on infants’ object processing. This event-related potential study addresses the question whether surprised faces affect infants’ brain responses to objects in a similar way, as both expressions share a crucial perceptual feature, wide-opened eyes. Three-month and 9-month-old infants were presented with surprised and neutral faces gazing toward objects. Following each face looking toward an object, the object was presented again without the face. Three-month-olds directed an increased attention to objects that were previously gaze cued by a surprised compared with neutral face as indicated by an enhanced negative central component. This replicates earlier findings using fearful compared with neutral faces as stimuli. Nine-month-olds did not show different responses to objects in both conditions. This suggests that surprised faces have the same effect as fearful faces on 3-month-olds’, but not on 9-month-olds’ object processing. The findings are discussed in terms of social cognitive and visuoperceptual development

Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1097/WNR.0b013e32834cd751
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Provided by: MPG.PuRe
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