What is it about?
We studied Deaf infants who had Deaf parents using American Sign Language and hearing infants who had hearing parents using a spoken language. These two groups both had access to language from birth but in different modalities (visual for one and auditory for the other). We wanted to know whether Deaf infants would pay more attention to eyes and where people look because their experiences with visual language and visual social cues.
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Why is it important?
1) This is the first experimentally controlled test of gaze following with Deaf infants. 2) We found that Deaf infants were better than hearing infants at following the eye gaze of another person. 3) We suggest that Deaf infant of Deaf parents have sociocultural and linguistic experiences that help them pay attention to social and visual communication, such as eye gaze.
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This page is a summary of: Enhanced gaze‐following behavior in Deaf infants of Deaf parents, Developmental Science, October 2019, Wiley, DOI: 10.1111/desc.12900.
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Deaf Infants’ Gaze Behavior
Gaze-following behavior, or looking where another person is looking, is an important milestone in child development that plays a key role in communication and social-cognitive processes. Prior research has established that an infant’s ability to gaze follow emerges on a clear developmental timetable, but the first experimental study of deaf infants of deaf parents suggests these important markers are more malleable than previously thought. This video presents our research in ASL and English.
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