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Bret Eschman, James Torrence Todd, Lorraine E. Bahrick; Fixation patterns differ as a function of intersensory processing performance during the first three years of life. Journal of Vision 2020;20(11):415. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.415.
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Selective attention to intersensory redundancy (stimulation that is temporally synchronized across the senses) guides cognitive, social, and language development (Bahrick and Lickliter, 2012). Recently, Bahrick et al. (2018) developed the intersensory processing efficiency protocol (IPEP), the first fine-grained, nonverbal method for characterizing individual differences in intersensory processing suitable for infants and young children. Participants must find a sound-synchronized visual target social (women speaking) or non-social (objects striking a surface) amid five visual distractor events, simulating the “noisiness” of natural environments. While detection of intersensory redundancy is foundational for cognitive, social, and language development, few studies have examined the role of low-level visual fixation patterns that give rise to detecting redundancy. The current poster explores the extent to which these visual dynamics differ as a function of intersensory processing accuracy (measured via the IPEP) during the first three years of life.
A total of 106 infants completed the IPEP, longitudinally at 3, 6, 12, 18, 24, 36 months of age. Their eye gaze was recorded with a Tobii TX-120 eye-tracking system.
Across all ages, children made more fixations and had shorter average fixation durations on trials in which they located the target (synchronous audiovisual event) compared to trials in which they did not locate the target (ps <.01; Figures 1 and 2). Importantly, these metrics do not seem to be the product of “in the moment” differences in factors such as attention and/or arousal as correlational analyses reveal relative stability across age (Table 1).
Taken together these results suggest: 1) Quantifying the length and number of fixations may provide useful new predictors of intersensory processing, 2) the visual dynamics identified in this poster appear relatively stable across the first three years, and 3) these visual dynamics could provide more fine-grained predictors of later cognitive, social, and language outcomes.
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