The development and neural basis of referential gaze perception.

Atsushi Senju, Mark H. Johnson, Gergely Csibra

Research output: Article

68 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Infants are sensitive to the referential information conveyed by others' eye gaze, which could be one of the developmental foundations of theory of mind. To investigate the neural correlates of gaze-object relations, we recorded ERPs from adults and 9-month-old infants while they watched scenes containing gaze shifts either towards or away from the location of a preceding object. In adults, object-incongruent gaze shifts elicited enhanced ERP amplitudes over the occipito-temporal area (N330). In infants, a similar posterior ERP component (N290) was greater for object-incongruent gaze shifts, which suggests that by the age of 9 months infants encode referential information of gaze in a similar way to adults. In addition, in infants we observed an early frontal ERP component (anterior N200), which showed higher amplitude in response to the perception of object-congruent gaze shifts. This component may reflect fast-track processing of socially relevant information, such as the detection of communicative or informative situations, and could form a developmental foundation for attention sharing, social learning and theory of mind.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-234
Number of pages15
JournalSocial neuroscience
Volume1
Issue number3-4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Development
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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