September 2015
Volume 15, Issue 12
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2015
Visual Attention Differences in Caesarean versus Vaginally Delivered Infants
Author Affiliations
  • Audrey Wong Kee You
    York University
  • Scott Adler
    York University Centre for Vision Research
Journal of Vision September 2015, Vol.15, 801. doi:
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      Audrey Wong Kee You, Scott Adler; Visual Attention Differences in Caesarean versus Vaginally Delivered Infants. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):801.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Little is known about the role that the birth experience plays in brain and cognitive development. Recent research suggests that birth experience influences development of the somatosensory cortex, an area involved in spatial attention to sensory information. Whether there are attentional differences between infants who have different birth experiences as occurs for caesarean versus vaginal delivery, however, has never been investigated. This study explored whether differences in spatial attention occur in infants born by caesarean section versus vaginally. Three-month-old infants performed either a spatial cued task in which we measured the latency of their stimulus-driven reactive saccadic eye movements or a visual expectation task in which we measured both their level of cognitively-driven anticipatory and latency of stimulus-driven reactive saccades. The results show that caesarean delivered infants’ stimulus-driven, reflexive attention is slowed relative to vaginally delivered infants’, whereas their cognitively-driven, voluntary attention is unaffected. Thus, type of birth experience influences one form of infants’ attention, and possibly any cognitive process that relies on spatial attention. This study also reveals that birth experience likely influences the initial state of brain functioning and, consequently, must be considered in our understanding of brain development.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015


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