The Dynamics of Infant Attention
Attention allocation and visual foraging are adaptively important behaviors in providing information about the world for effective goal-directed behavior and survival. Timely re-direction of gaze facilitates integration of information and provides exposure to new information, which is crucial during development. Steady-State Visual Evoked Potentials (SSVEPs) elicited in the extrastriate cortex by flickering stimuli can sensitively measure attentional switching. This study aimed to investigate the dynamics of attention in 3-month-old infants using SSVEPs by looking at how an attention-getting sound stimulus altered the spatial allocation of attention towards three flickering rubber ducks. For both the gaze fixated duck and non-fixated ducks, there was a significant decrease in relative amplitude of SSVEPs after a sound event was administered compared to a control event. This indicates that the sound stimulus served to globally decrease attention to all three ducks. Our results suggest that using SSVEPs can tell us new information about the dynamics of infant attention that could not be assessed using gaze alone, such as the intensity and direction of attention.
infant attention; visual foraging; SSVEPs; gaze
dissertation or thesis