The relationship between eye gaze, parent-child attachment and language acquisition
Francois, Jennifer R.
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The process by which infants and young children acquire language is complex and intricate. Environmental elements and social interactions coupled with internal, biologic mechanisms instigate and facilitate language acquisition. While it seems that credit should be equally distributed between these processes, the literature suggests the crux of the problem lies within the infant's interactions (e.g., infant communicative attempts, such as eye-gaze) and social relationships (e.g., infant-caregiver attachment). The use of eye tracking as a way to measure and gauge infant attention (i.e., gaze patterns) and to understand very young, prelinguistic children's acquisition of language has gained popularity in recent years (Colombo, 2001; Farroni, Johnson, Brockbank, & Simion, 2000; Hood, Willen, & Driver, 1998). Furthermore, eye tracking has been used to recognize the role of mother's attachment on the child's perception of visual cues (i.e., social cues or linguistic cues) associated with language development (Bruner, 1999; Csibra, 2010; Murray & Yingling, 2006). The purpose of this study was to determine if differences in age exist with infants' eye behaviors between familiar and unfamiliar faces. Eye gaze behaviors of 3- month-old infants were recorded and monitored in two-week intervals over a period of one month using the Tobii X120 eye tracker. Single subject design was used, such that the participants two through five served as replications of participant one. Visual analysis of the data indicated similarities and differences between the familiar and unfamiliar experimental conditions on each of the dependent variables across age. For the familiar face condition, the data suggests that the nose AOI (i.e., Area of Interest) is a unique area to this condition across age. In contrast, for the unfamiliar face condition, the mouth emerged as an area of saliency for this condition. Finally, the eyes were noted as an area of saliency for both the familiar and unfamiliar face conditions.
Thesis (Ph.D.)-- Wichita State University, College of Health Professions, Dept. of Communication Sciences and Disorders
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