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Keywords:

  • eye gaze;
  • infants;
  • information processing;
  • joint attention;
  • social cognition

Abstract

Infants follow others' gaze toward external objects from early in ontogeny, but whether they use others' gaze in processing information about objects remains unknown. In Experiment 1, 4-month-old infants viewed a video presentation of an adult gazing toward one of two objects. When presented with the same objects alone a second time, infants looked reliably less at the object to which the adult had directly gazed (cued object). This suggests that the uncued object was perceived as more novel than the object previously cued by the adult's gaze. In Experiment 2, adult gaze was not directed towards any object. In this control experiment, infants looked at both objects equally in the test phase. These findings show that adult eye gaze biases infant visual attention and information processing. Implications of the paradigm for cognitive neuroscience are presented and the results are discussed in terms of neural structures and change over ontogeny.