Gaze Behavior of 9- and 13-Month-Old Infants during Live Face-to-Face Interactions: Joint Attention Observed with an Eye- Tracking System.

Poster Presentation
Friday, May 11, 2018: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Hall Grote Zaal (de Doelen ICC Rotterdam)
M. Asano1, N. Naoi2, Y. Hakuno1, J. Yamamoto1 and Y. Minagawa1, (1)Keio University, Tokyo, Japan, (2)International Christian University, Mitaka, Japan

Initiating joint attention (IJA) using gaze shift is suggested to appear around 9–12 months (Bakeman & Adamson, 1984). Typically developing (TD) infants older than 12- month- old control their gaze shift without adult support. During development, children show various combinations of joint attention behaviors such as gaze shifting, pointing, and verbalizing (Oyabu, 2004; Seibert, Hogan, & Mundy, 1987; Tomasello, 1995)

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by deficits in social interaction and communication. Since joint attention seems to precede the onset of theory of mind, the ability to share attention with others plays an important role in the development of social cognition in infancy. However, little is known about infants’ gaze behavior in the naturalistic context of joint attention.


We examined gaze behavior of 9- and 13-months-old typically developing infants and infants at-risk for ASD during live face-to-face interactions for IJA using an eye-tracking system.


Data of 20 infants was analyzed in this preliminary study. They participated the sessions at their age of 9- and 10-months-old and 12-and 13-months-old. During the recording an infant sat on the parent’s lap facing to a live female experimenter. The experimenter presented the infant a wind-up toy for 20 s to elicit shared attention between the experimenter’s face and toy. The infant’s gaze behavior was recorded during interactions using Tobii eye-tracker (Tobii x-2-60, Sampling rate: 60 Hz). We separated participants into two groups for each age: 9- and 10-months-old group consisted of 11 TD infants and 9 infants at-risk for ASD. 12- and 13-months-old group consisted of 8 TD infants and 8 infants at-risk for ASD. We conducted the t-test between each groups to analyze looking time for object (toy) and face.


Our results revealed that during IJA, the 9-and 10-months-old TD infants looked at the toy and experimenter’s face longer than the infants at-risk for ASD (t (10) =1.95, p=0.07). For 12- and 13-months-olds, on the other hand, the infants at-risk for ASD looked at the toy longer than the TD infants. However, only marginal significance was observed for this difference (t (10) =1.95, p=0.07).


Although this is very preliminary study with limited participants, we were able to show that we can capture the eye gaze during social interaction. This method could show the early signs of social deficits for the infants at-risk for ASD during naturalistic social interactions. We will collect more data to discuss about the group difference in the poster.