Joint attention and object learning in 5- and 7-month-old infants

Authors

  • Allison Cleveland,

    Corresponding author
    1. Neurocognition and Development Group, University of Leipzig Center for Advanced Studies, Otto-Schill Strasse 1, 04109 Leipzig, Germany
    • Neurocognition and Development Group, University of Leipzig Center for Advanced Studies, Otto-Schill Strasse 1, D-04109, Leipzig, Germany
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  • Mariah Schug,

    1. Neurocognition and Development Group, University of Leipzig Center for Advanced Studies, Otto-Schill Strasse 1, 04109 Leipzig, Germany
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  • Tricia Striano

    1. Neurocognition and Development Group, University of Leipzig Center for Advanced Studies, Otto-Schill Strasse 1, 04109 Leipzig, Germany
    2. Neurocognition and Development Group, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany
    3. Department of Pediatrics and Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, USA
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Abstract

We examined the effects of joint attention for object learning in 5- and 7-month-old infants. Infants interacted with an adult social partner who taught them about a novel toy in two conditions. In the Joint Attention condition, the adult spoke about the toy while alternating gaze between the infant and the toy, while in the Object Only condition, the adult looked to the toy and to a spot on the ceiling, but never at the infant. In the test trials following each social interaction, we presented infants with the ‘familiarization’ toy and a novel toy, and monitored looking times to each object. We found that 7-month-olds looked significantly longer to the novel toy following the Joint Attention relative to the Object Only condition, while 5-month-old infants did not show a significant difference across conditions. We interpret these results to suggest that joint attention facilitated 7-month-old infants' encoding of information about the familiarization object. Implications for the ontogeny of infant learning in joint attention contexts are discussed. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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