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Age Differences in Online Processing of Video: An Eye Movement Study


  • This research is based in part on a University of Massachusetts doctoral dissertation by Heather Kirkorian. Aspects of this research were presented at the biannual meetings of the International Society on Infant Studies (2008) and the Society for Research in Child Development (2011) as well as at the Conference on Human Development (2010). This research was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation (BCS-0623888) and the National Institute of Health (R37 HD-027714). Findings and opinions expressed in this manuscript do not reflect endorsement by the National Science Foundation or the National Institute of Health. We wish to acknowledge the helpful comments of Kyle Cave, Keith Rayner, Erica Scharrer, and two anonymous reviewers. We also thank the efforts of Ian Kunkes for data collection, Lindsay Demers for stimulus production and statistical consultation, and Neil Berthier for statistical consultation.

  • Heather L. Kirkorian is now at University of Wisconsin at Madison. Rachel Keen is now at University of Virginia.

concerning this article should be addressed to Heather L. Kirkorian, Human Development and Family Studies, University of Wisconsin, 1305 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706. Electronic mail may be sent to


Eye movements were recorded while sixty-two 1-year-olds, 4-year-olds, and adults watched television. Of interest was the extent to which viewers looked at the same place at the same time as their peers because high similarity across viewers suggests systematic viewing driven by comprehension processes. Similarity of gaze location increased with age. This was particularly true immediately following a cut to a new scene, partly because older viewers (but not infants) tended to fixate the center of the screen following a cut. Conversely, infants appear to require several seconds to orient to a new scene. Results are interpreted in the context of developing attention skills. Findings have implications for the extent to which infants comprehend and learn from commercial video.