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Ryan A Barry-Anwar, Gabriella Silva, Andreas Keil, Lisa S Scott; Occipital alpha changes in response to label-learning during infancy. Journal of Vision 2019;19(10):117c. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/19.10.117c.
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Occipital alpha has been found to desynchronize in infants during focused attention (Michel et al., 2015; Xie et al., 2018) and thus may be a useful measure for understanding attention changes associated with infant learning. Previous research suggests that exposing infants to individual-level labels for novel objects (e.g., “Harry”) over the course of 3 months results in increased visual attention to those objects relative to category-level labels (e.g., “hitchel”, Pickron et al., 2018). Here, 9-month-old infants (n=19) completed a brief in-lab learning session during which one group of novel objects was verbally labeled with individual names, and the other group was verbally labeled with a category name. Before and after label training, continuous EEG was recorded while infants watched objects and faces slowly moving down a screen for 10 seconds (see Figure 1). Infants saw 1) new exemplars from the individually labeled object group, 2) new exemplars from the category labeled object group, 3) exemplars from an untrained object group and 4) faces. The baseline relative amplitude at 7Hz was chosen for analysis, based on visual inspection of mean amplitude over the medial occipital area within the infant alpha range (6–9 Hz). Results revealed that alpha amplitude did not differ from baseline before the label training for any condition (see Figure 2). However, after training, significant alpha desynchronization was found when infants viewed faces (p=.001) and objects from the individually labeled group (p= .02). Alpha did not differ from baseline for objects labeled at the category-level (p= .46) or for the untrained objects (p= .43). Findings suggest similar patterns of alpha desynchronization for faces and individually-labeled objects and that labeling objects at the individual level, during infancy, results in increased visual attention.
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