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The emergence and stability of the attentional bias to fearful faces in infancy

Mikko J. Peltola 1, 2, 3,

Jari K. Hietanen 1,

Linda Forssman 4

, & Jukka M. Leppänen 4

1 Human Information Processing Laboratory, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Tampere, Finland

2 Centre for Child and Family Studies, Leiden University, The Netherlands

3 Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition, Leiden University, The Netherlands

4 Tampere Center for Child Health Research, School of Medicine, University of Tampere, Finland

Corresponding author: Mikko Peltola Centre for Child and Family Studies Leiden University P.O. Box 9555

2300 RB Leiden The Netherlands E-mail: [email protected] Tel: +31 6 1461 4895



Several studies have shown that at 7 months of age, infants display an attentional bias toward fearful facial expressions. In the present study, we analyzed visual at-tention and heart rate data from a cross-sectional study with 5-,7-,9- and 11-month- old infants (Experiment 1) and visual attention from a longitudinal study with 5- and 7-month-old infants (Experiment 2) to examine the emergence and stability of the attentional bias to fearful facial expressions. In both experiments,the attentional bias to fearful faces appeared to emerge between 5 and 7 months of age: 5-month-olds did not show a difference in disengaging attention from fearful and non-fearful faces, whereas 7- and 9-month-old infants had a lower probability of diseng aging attention from fearful than non-fearful faces. Across the age groups, heart rate (HR) data (Experiment 1) showed a more pronounced and longer-lasting HR deceleration to fearful than non-fearful expressions.

The results are discussed in relation to the development of neural systems responsible for the perception and experience of fear and the interaction between emotional and attentional brain systems.

The emergence and stability of the attentional bias to fearful faces in infancy

One of the developmental challenges infants face during the first year of life is to acquire the ability to use emotional information from others’ nonverbal signals for the service of behavioral regulation and learning about novel and potentially threatening situations. Potential early precursors to the ability to learn from others’ emotional signals may be observed in young infants’ selective attentional responses to facial expressions.

A number of studies have shown that during the second half of the first year of life, infants preferentially attend to fearful facial expressions over positive and neutral emotion cues (Leppänen & Nelson, 2009). It is likely that an att entional bias toward fearful expressions over other stimuli fosters associative learning in situations invol-ving expressions of fear and impending danger. When two different facial expres-sions are presented side by side on a computer screen for a period of 10-20 se-conds in a visual paired comparison (VPC) task,7-month-old infants spontaneously look longer at fearful than at happy faces (Kotsoni, de Haan & Johnson, 2001; Nelson & Dolgin,1985). Using electroencephalography (EEG),Nelson and de Haan (1996) observed that in 7-month-old infants, an event-related brain potential (ERP) component associated with allocating attention to visual stimuli (i.e., the Nc compo-nent) was larger for fearful than happy faces, indicating increased attention to fearful faces (for similar findings, see also de Haan, Belsky, Reid,Volein& Johnson, 2004; Grossmann et al., 2011; Leppänen, Moulson, Vogel-Farley & Nelson, 2007).

Previous studies have used a modification of the Overlap paradigm (Aslin& Salapa- tek, 1975) to further understand infants’ attentional biases toward emotional expres-sions.In the Overlap paradigm,non-emotional stimuli are presented in the visual peri- phery to attract attention to their location after attention has first been engaged on a centrally presented facial expression stimulus. The pattern of results emerging from these studies is that 7-month-old infants are less likely (Nakagawa&Sukigara, 2012; Peltola, Leppänen, Palokangas,&Hietanen,2008) and slower (Peltola, Leppänen, Vogel-Farley,Hietanen&Nelson,2009) to disengage their attention away from fearful than from happy and neutral faces or control stimuli matched for low-level visual properties.

The reasons for the increased attentiveness to facial signals of fear at the expense of other stimuli are not perfectly clear, and some authors (e.g., Kagan & Herschko-witz, 2005; Nelson&de Haan, 1996; Vaish, Grossmann,& Woodward, 2008) have raised the possibility that instead of a response to the emotional content of the fear-ful expression, the attentional bias may reflect a novelty preference (i.e., the fact that facial expressions of fear are relatively rare in young infants’ rearing environment; Malatesta & Haviland, 1982) or attention capture by salient low-level visual features such as the increased exposure of the sclera (eye white) in fearful expressions. Stu-dies using the Overlapparadigm have shown, however,that the attentional bias is not simply reducible to these types of factors as facial stimuli controlling for novelty (i.e., novel, non-emotional grimaces) and distinctive visual features (i.e., fearful eyes em-bedded within an otherwise neutral expression) do not attract attention in a similar fashion as fearful faces do (Peltola et al.,2008; Peltola, Leppänen, Vogel-Farley et al., 2009).

Although studies employing ERP and eye movement measures have repeatedly shown an attentional bias to fearful faces in 7-month-old infants, the developmental time-course of the attentional bias has been considerably less well documented.

Available evidence indicates, however, that the enhanced attentiveness toward fear-ful expressions emerges between 5 and 7 months of age. Peltola, Leppänen, Mäki, and Hietanen (2009) analyzed attention-related ERPs and looking times from 5- and 7-month-old infants while they were shown fearful and happy faces.For the 7-month- old infants, the results replicated earlier studies in that the ERP responses were lar-ger and the looking times longer for fearful than happy faces. No significant differen-ces were observed with either measure in 5-month-old infants. By measuring atten-tion-related ERPs to neutral and fearful faces with the eyes looking toward or away from a laterally presented object, Hoehl and Striano (2010) found no differences in the magnitude of the ERPresponses between the two expressions in 3-month-old in-fants, whereas in 6-month-old infants the responses were larger to fearful faces with the eyes looking toward the object. Bornstein and Arterberry (2003) also did not observe differences in 5-month-olds’looking times to fearful and happy faces.

Vaish et al. (2008) even argued for the existence of a “positivity bias” during the first six months as there are findings of longer looking times to happy than fearful expres-sions in newborns (Farroni, Menon, Rigato&Johnson,2007) and happy compared to angry expressions in 4- to 6-month-old infants (LaBarbera,Izard, Vietze& Parisi, 1976; Wilcox & Clayton, 1968). To gether, these findings suggest a change in the relative weighting of attention to fear-related signals at around 6 months of age.

The present study aimed at further delineating the developmental course ofattention to fearful faces. To this end, we pooled data from cross-sectional studies conducted with 5-, 7-, 9-, and 11-month-old infants (Experiment 1) and an ongoing longitudinal study with 5- and 7-month-old infants (Experiment 2) to examine age-related changes in attention to fearful expressions. The experimental setups varied slightly between Experiment 1 and 2,but in both experiments,data were available for infants’ attention to neutral,happy,and fearful facial expressions measured with the Overlap paradigm.The ability to disengage and shift attention from an attended to another stimulus is sufficiently developed by the age of 5 months (e.g., Colombo, 2001; Hunnius & Geuze, 2004) to consider the overlap paradigm suitable for the age range in question.

The first aim was to investigate whether the change in attentiveness to fearful faces between 5 and 7 months of age would be replicated using the Overlap paradigm. In the Overlap paradigm, the attentional bias should manifest in a lower probability of disengaging attention from fearful than happy and neutral faces. Second,it was of interest to test whether the attentional bias to fearful faces remains present until the end of the first year. Although studies using comparable methods with infants older than 7 months of age are limited, the available evidence points to a continuing attentional preference toward fearful faces. Using a VPC task,LoBue and DeLoache (2010) demonstrated longer looking times for fearful than happy faces in a group consisting of 8- to 14-month-old infants. Hoehl and Striano (2010) observed enhan-ced attention-related ERP responses for fearful relative to neutral faces in 9-month-old infants.

Recently, Nakagawa and Sukigara (2012), using a slightly modified version of the Overlap paradigm, found that infants show a lower probability of disengaging attention from fearful than happy and neutral faces from 12 to 36 months of age. These data led us to expect similar modulation of attention by fearful faces in the Overlap paradigm in infants aged 7, 9, and 11 months.

In the cross-sectional dataset (Experiment 1), the eye movement measurements were complemented with recording of electrocardiography (ECG), allowing us to examine age-related changes in heart rate (HR) responses to facial expressions. Orienting of attention to external stimuli is typically accompanied by a rapid HR deceleration in adults (Graham& Clifton, 1966) and in infants (Reynolds & Richards, 2007). In adults,the HR deceleration response is augmented by emotionally negative stimuli, such as  unpleasant scenes or angry faces (Bradley, Lang&Cuthbert, 1993; Bradley, 2009; Kolassa & Miltner,2006; Lang & Bradley,2010). Bradley (2009) regar-ded the momen-tary threat-related slowing of HR as a part of an automatic defense-related orienting reflex that acts to facilitate perceptual processing and extraction of information about potentially significant stimuli. Studies measuring HR from 7-month-old infants during the Overlap paradigm have shown a correspondence between HR and behavioral measures of attentional bias to fearful faces in that the HR orienting response (i.e., deceleration) is larger during trials with fearful than happy/neutral fa-ces (Leppänen et al., 2010; Peltola,Leppänen&Hietanen,2011). Thus, we investigate whether the relatively automatic threat-related modulation of HR deceleration follows a similar developmental course as the attention measures based on eye movements.

To summarize,we analyzed both cross-sectional and longitudinal datasets in the pre- sent study to chart the emergence and stability of the attentional bias toward fearful faces in infancy. We hypothesized that the attentional bias to fearful faces would emerge between 5 and 7 months of age and remain present until 11 months of age. The attentional bias should manifest in a lower probability of disengaging attention awayfrom fearful than happy and neutral faces (Experiments 1 and 2) as well as in larger HR deceleration during fearful face trials (Experiment1).

Experiment 1



Experiment 1 is based on data from a previous study with 7-month-old infants (reported in Peltola et al.,2011) and new data collected from 5-,9-,and 11-month-old infants. The full sample consisted of 113 infants in separate age groups of 5-month-olds (n = 29, mean age = 153 days, SD = 4.14,16 girls), 7-month-olds (n = 29, mean age = 216 days, SD= 4.41, 8 girls), 9-month-olds (n = 29, mean age = 274 days, SD = 3.79,10 girls),and 11-month-olds (n = 26,mean age = 336 days,SD = 2.93,12 girls). Apart from two infants who were excluded from the analyses due to pre-term birth (one 5-month-old and one 7-month-old), the infants were born full term (≥ 37 weeks), had a birth weight of > 2400 g and no history of visual or neurological abnormalities.

In the 5-month-olds’ group, 3 infants were excluded from all data analyses due to technical errors resulting in unusable video files and 1 infant from the HR analyses due to a technical error resulting in missing HR data. In the 7-month-olds, 2 infants were excluded from all data analyses due to sleepiness (n = 1) and due to providing < 2 trials in one or more stimulus condition (n=1),and 7 infants from the HR analyses due to a technical error resulting in missing HR data.In the 9-month-olds,1 infant was excluded from all data analyses due to a technical error resulting in an unusable video file and 1 infant from the HR analyses due to excessive artefacts in the ECG signal. In the 11-month-olds,1 infant was excluded from all data analyses due to pro- viding <2 trials in one or more stimulus condition, and another 4 infants were exclu-ded from the HR analyses due to excessive artefacts in the ECG signal. Thus,104 infants remained in the disengagement probability analyses (5-month-olds: n = 25; 7-month-olds: n = 26; 9-month-olds:n = 28; 11-month-olds: n = 25) and 91 infants remained in the HR analyses (5-month-olds: n = 24; 7-month-olds: n = 19; 9-month-olds: n = 27; 11-month-olds: n = 21). Approval for the project was obtained from the University of Tampere and Tampere Area Ethical Review Board and an informed, written consent was obtained from the parent of each child.

Stimuli and procedure.

The stimuli were color images of neutral, happy, and fearful facial expressions of two female models. With an approximately 60-cm viewing distance, the faces measured 15.4° and 10.8º of vertical and horizontal visual angle, respectively. Prior to data col-lection,a group of adults (n = 18) rated the facial expressions for happiness and fear-fulness on a scale from 1 to 7. The ratings confirmed that the happy (M = 5.9) and fearful (M = 6.2) facial expressions used were considered good examples of the res-pective emotions. In addition,3 to 4 trials with a monkey face were also presented during the testing session as occasional attention-getters. The data for the monkey stimuli were not analyzed.

Infants were seated on the parent’s lap in a dimly lit room while stimuli were presen-ted on a 19-inch computer monitor that was surrounded by black panels. A video camera hidden above the monitor recorded the infant’s face and enabled the experi-menter to control stimulus presentation. Infants’ heart rate and eye movements were measured during the Overlap paradigm (Figure 1). A fixation image (an animated underwater scene from the movie “Finding Nemo”) preceded each trial.

Once the infant’s attention was focused on the fixation image, one of the face stimuli was presented on the center of the screen on a white background.After 700 ms from the onset of the face stimulus, the face was flanked by a peripheral stimulus presen-ted 13.6° equiprobably on the left or right for 2000 ms. The peripheral stimuli were black-and-white vertically arranged circles or a checkerboard pattern, measuring 15.4° and 4.3° vertically and horizontally, respectively. Every infant saw only one model’s face.

During the first 15 trials, neutral, happy, and fe arful expressions were presented in random order with the constraint that the same expression was presented no more than twice in a row and the flanker on the same side of the screen no more than three times in a row. The present analyses are based on these trials. After the first 15 trials, only happy and fearful expressions were presented until the infant became inattentive or fussy. The latter trials were added for the specific purposes of simultaneous ECQ, EEG and eye movement recording but the EEG was eventually recorded only from the 7-month-old infants and is thus not reported here.

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Analysis of the behavioral data.

An independent observer coded the videos with frame-by-frame playback using VirtualDubMod 1.5.10.

2.Trials including excessive movement,anticipatory eye movements (eye movements commenced within 160 ms after the onset of the peripheral stimulus), and incorrect responses (eye movements away from the face that were not directed towards the peripheral stimulus) were excluded from the analyses.The mean number of scorable trials included in the analyses was 13.16 (neutral = 4.40;happy = 4.37;fearful= 4.38), with no significant differences in the number of scorable trials between the age groups, F (3,101) = 1.85,p >.14. The mean numbers of trials are comparable to earlier studies using the Overlap paradigm (Leppänen et al.,2011; Peltola et al., 2008; Peltola, Leppänen, Vogel-Farley et al., 2009).

For the behavioral data, disengagement probability from fearful, happy, and neutral faces was analyzed. It was calculated as the proportion of trials with a correct saccade out of the total number of scorable trials (i.e., a sum of trials with a correct saccade as well as no-saccade trials on which the child did not shift attention away from the face during the whole trial). Analyses of attention disengagement latencies are not reported because a large number of infants failed to provide a minimum of 2 trials with saccades away from the central stimulus in each stimulus condition. To establish the reliability of the data coding procedures, another independent observer who was blind to the stimulus condition coded the data from 28 subjects (~25%; 7 infants within each age group). The interobserver agreement (Cohen’s Kappa) for the classification of responses to different response categories (i.e., correct saccade present, saccade absent, non-scorable trial) was on average .94.

Acquisition and analysis of the HR data.

Electrocardiogram (ECG) was recorded throughout the task with two pre-gelled and self-adhesive electrodes placed on the participant’s chest. The ECG was band-pass filtered from 0.05 to 30 Hz,amplified with a gain of 1000 (range+/-2750 μV; Accuracy .084 μV/LSB), and stored on a computer disk at the sample rate of 1000 Hz (Neuros can/Synamps). Offline, the data were analyzed by using an in-house (Matlab-based) algorithm to identify QRS complexes in the ECG signal, and to measure the time in-tervals between two successive R-waves (i.e.,interbeat intervals or IBI). Lengthening of the IBI corresponds to HR deceleration and shortening to HR acceleration. After an algorithm-based detection of R-peaks,the data were manually corrected for falsely detected and missing peaks.As with the eye movement coding,trials with anticipatory eye movements, incorrect responses, and excessive movement causing distortion in the ECG signal were excluded from the analyses. To be included in the statistical analyses of the HR data,a minimum of 2 good trials were required for each stimulus condition.The mean number of trials retained for the HR analyses was13.08 (neutral = 4.37; happy = 4.34; fearful = 4.36), with no significant differences between the age groups, F (3, 90) = 2.01, p > .12. For a period between 500 ms pre-stimulus and 2500 ms post-stimul us within each trial,the IBIs were quantified and assigned to 500-ms intervals by weighting each IBI by the proportion of the 500-ms interval oc-cupied by that IBI (see Richards&Turner,2001). Finally, IBIs were converted to beats per minute (BPM) and averaged across different trials within each stimulus condi-tion. The analy-ses were performed with HR change scores which were calculated by subtracting the BPMs of each post-stimulus 500-ms interval from the BPM during the prestimulus period. Accordingly, negative change score values indicate HR deceleration while positive values indicate HR an cceleration during the trial.

Statistical analyses.

As the eye movement data were not normally distributed, the analyses of the behavioral data were conducted using nonparametric methods. First, to provide data on potential age differences in the overall attention disengagement from facial stimuli, age differences in disengagement probability across facial expressions were analyzed with the Kruskal-Wallis test and Mann-Whitney U -tests were used for pairwise comparisons between age groups.Second,the effects of facial expressions on disengagement probability were analyzed within each age group separately by using Friedman tests for main effect analyses and Wilcoxon tests for pairwise comparisons.

Third, a fear bias score was calculated to further examine the potential age differen-ces in the magnitude of the attentional bias to fearful faces. The fear bias score was calculated by subtracting the disengagement probability score for fearful faces from the average disengagement probability score for happy and neutral faces. As the HR data were normally distributed, the HR change scores were subjected to a 3 × 5 × 4 repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) with Emotion (neutral,happy, fear-ful) and Time (0-500, 500-1000,1000-1500,1500-2000,2000-2500 ms) as within-sub-ject factors and Age (5, 7, 9,11) as a between-subjects factor.In all analyses, Bonfer-roni correction was applied for the p-values in cases where the number of pairwise comparisons was higher than three.


Behavioral data.

Across facial expressions, age differences were observed in the overall probability in disengaging attention from faces, χ2 = 7.80, p < .05.

Disengagement probability decreased markedly after 5 months of age, with the 5- month-olds (M =.74) differing from 7-month-olds (M= .62),Z=-1.94,p ≤ .05, 9- month-olds (M =.56),Z =-2.42, p < .05, and 11-month-olds (M = .57), Z = -2.28, p < .05. The age groups differed in the effects of facial expressions on disengagement probability (Figure 2a) in that no effects of facial expressions were found for the 5- month-olds, FR = 3.91, df = 2, p > .14, and the 11-month-olds, FR = 3.98, df = 2, p > .13.

Significant effects of facial expressions on disengagement probability were observed in the 7-month-olds,FR = 7.77,df = 2, p < .05, and the 9-month-olds,FR = 14.22, df = 2, p < .01.Pairwise comparisons indicated that in the 7-month-olds, disengagement probability was significantly lower for fearful than happy faces,z=-3.12,p <.01, where- as the differences between fearful and neutral or happy and neutral expressions failed to reach significance,ps >.08. In the 9-month-olds, fearful faces resulted in a lower disengagement probability than happy,z = -2.91, p < .01, and neutral faces, z = -3.15,p < .01,with no differences between happy and neutral faces,z = -0.92, p > .35. A direct comparison of the fear bias scores (see Figure 4a) between all age groups did not, however, result in a significant effect of age on the magnitude of the attentional bias to fearful faces, χ2 = 4.43, p > .21.

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HR data.

A 3 × 5 × 4 ANOVA revealed a main effect of Time, F(4, 348) = 27.69, p < .001, and an Emotion × Time interaction, F(8, 696) = 3.01,p < .05, but no interactions involving Age, ps > .11. The Emotion × Time interaction reflected the fact that the HR decele-ration became more pronounced during fearful than happy and neutral trials during the course of stimulus presentation (Figure 3). To reduce the number of paired com-parisons,fearful faces were contrasted with non-fearful (i.e.,an average of happy and neutral) faces to compare the strength of HR deceleration within each time window. Paired sample t-tests with Bonferroni correction revealed a difference between fear-ful and non-fearful faces only during the last time window (2000-2500 ms), t(90) = - 2.63, p < .05, all other ps >.5. An inspection of the effects separately within each age group showed that the Emotion×Time interaction was significant in the 5-month-olds, F(8,184) = 3.29,p < .05.The Emotion×Time interactions were not significant in 7-, 9-, and 11-month-old infants, all p s > .15, although a similar trend toward more pro-nounced HR deceleration during fearful face trials was observed in all age groups.

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The data from Experiment 1 showed age-related differences in the behavioral mea-sures of attention disengagement from fearful, happy, and neutral faces. The infants aged 7 and 9 months were less likely to disengage their attention from fearful faces, whereas the effects of facial expressions on diseng agement probability were absent in infants aged 5 and 11 months. The HR data showed a more pronounced and lon-ger-lasting HR deceleration during fearful than happy and neutral trials. This effect did not, however,show an interaction with the infants’ age and appeared to reflect a more generalized influence of fearful faces on HR decele ration across the age groups, al-though separate tests showed a significant effect only in the 5-month-old infants.The eye movement data provided support for the hypothesis that the attentio-nal bias to fearful faces emerges between 5 and 7 months of age.The interpretations of the effects observed in Experiment 1 are hindered,however, by the fact that the di- rect comparison of the fear bias scores (i.e., the probability of disengaging attention from fear-ful faces subtracted from the average disengagement probability score for happy and neutral faces) between the age groups was not significant. To provide a further test of the emergence of the attentional bias to fearful faces between 5 and 7 months of age, we analyzed additional data from an independent sample of infants tested longitudinally in Experiment 2.

Experiment 2



The participants in the present analyses were a subsample of infants in an ongoing longitudinal cohort study,started in April 2012. All infants tested at 5 and 7 months of age by September 5th 2012 were included in the present analyses. The final sample included in the analyses consisted of 41 healthy and full-term (≥ 37 weeks) infants (18 girls) who were tested at both 5 (mean age = 152 days, SD = 3.70) and 7 (mean age = 213 days, SD = 3.25) months of age. Nine additional infants participated in the study but were excluded from all analyses because of pre-term birth (n=1), technical errors (n = 1), not being tested at 7 months of age (n=1, due to moving) and for pro- viding < 2 scorable trials in one or more stimulus condition (n = 6). Approval for the project was obtained from the Ethical Committee of Tampere University Hospital and an informed, written consent was obtained from the parent of each child.

Stimuli and procedure.

As a part of the longitudinal study, infants’ attention to facial expressions were exa-mined at 5 and 7 months of age by using the Overlap paradigm (see Leppänen et al., 2011 for details of the methodology).In a difference to Experiment 1 and previous stu-dies (Leppänen et al., 2010, 2011), the present experiment was started by net place-ment for the recording of EEG (Electrical Geodesics, Inc., Eugene, OR, USA) and a calibration procedure for corneal-reflection eye-tracking (TobiiTX300, Tobii Technology, Sweden). Following successful net placement and calibration (or three unsuc-cessful attempts to calibrate the eye-tracker), the infants were presented with the Overlap paradigm.The procedure and stimuli in the Overlap paradigm were simi-lar to those used in Experiment 1,with the following exceptions: a) the stimulus onset asynchrony between the face and the peripheral stimulus was 1000 ms and the peripheral stimulus was presented for 3000 ms, b) monkey faces were not shown but a phase-scrambled face was presented as a non-face control stimulus, and c) a total of 24 trials (6/condition) were run in the first part of the testing session. The present analyses are based on the disengagement probabilities from neutral, happy, and fearful facial expressions during the first part of the experiment (the second part of stimulus pre-sentation was added for the purposes of EEG meas urement and will be reported separately).

Analysis of the behavioral data.

Visual attention was analyzed from videorecordings of infants’ eye movements during the presentation of stimuli and the procedures for calculating disengagement probabilities from fearful,happy,and neutral faces were identical to Experiment 1. The mean number of scorable trials included in the analyses was 16.28 (fearful = 5.45; happy = 5.38; neutral = 5.45), with no significant difference in the number of scorable trials between the 5- and 7-month measurements, t(40) = 0.85, p > .40. The statistical analyses of the eye movement data were conducted in an identical fashion to Experiment 1.


The overall probability of attention disengagement (i.e., an average of fearful, happy, and neutral trials) did not differ between the 5- and 7-month measurements (M = .79 and .77,respectively), z = -1.09, p >.27. Again,significant effects of facial expressions on disengagement probability were observed at 7 months of age, FR = 18.96, df= 2, p < .001,but not at 5 months of age,FR = 3.98,df = 2,p > .13 (see Figure 2b).The sig- nificant effect at 7 months of age was due to disengagement probability being lower for fearful than happy,z = -3.60,p < .001,and neutral faces,z = -3.95, p < .001, where-as no difference between happy and neutral faces was found,z =-0.70,p > .48. A comparison of the fear bias scores between the two measurement points (Figure 4b) also indicated that the magnitude of the attentional bias to fearful faces increased significantly from 5 to 7 months of age, z = -2.02, p < .05.

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Experiment 2,using a within-subjects design,provided strong evidence for a develop- mental change in attention to fearful facial expressions between 5 and 7 months of age. Whereas at 5 months of age, facial expression of the central stimulus did not have an effect on infants’ probability of disengaging attention, the same infants at 7 months of age were significantly more likely to maintain their attention on fearful as compared to happy and neutral faces throughout the trial. With different samples of infants and experiments employing both between- and within-subjects designs, Experiments 1 and 2 converge in providing no evidence for preferential attention to fearful faces in 5-month-old infants, whereas the evidence for an attentional bias in 7-month-old infants is clear.

General Discussion

The present research investigated the potential developmental changes in patterns of attention to fearful, happy, and neutral faces between 5 and 11 months of age. Based on previous research, we hypothesized that the attentional bias to fearful faces would appear between 5 and 7 months of age and remain evident also at 9 and 11 months of age.

The attentional bias was expected to manifest in a decreased probability of disenga-ging attention from fearful faces and in a larger attention-related HR deceleration to fearful faces from 7 months onwards.

The results supported our hypothesis regarding the emergence, but not the stability of the attentional bias. First, the emergence of an attentional bias to fearful faces by 7 months of age was confirmed: facial expression did not have a significant effect on the probability of disengaging attention in the two samples of 5-month-old infants whereas 7- and 9-month-old infants had a lower probability of disengaging attention from fearful than non-fearful faces. According to Experiment 1, the attentional bias appeared to have dissipated by 11 months of age. Across the age groups, the HR data (Experiment 1) showed a more pronounced and longer-lasting HR deceleration during fearful than happy and neutral trials. In Experiment 1, the probability of disen-gaging attention from facial stimuli toward peripheral stimuli decreased from 5 to 7 months of age,after which the probability remained constant. This difference between 5 and 7 months of age was not, however, replicated in Experiment 2.

The observed emergence of the attentional bias to fearful faces between 5 and 7 months of age is in line with previous research (Peltola, Leppänen, Mäki et al., 2009) and with the model of the development of emotion-processing put forward by Leppä-nen and Nelson (2009, 2012). At the turn of the second half of the first year, major transitions in emotional development are observed. As infants progress towards the ability to move independently (typically between 6 and 8 months of age; Adolph, Ver-eijken, &Denny,1998), increasing their distance and time away from the caregivers, it becomes increasingly important to be able to detect and direct attention to potential signals of threat and danger emanating from others’ facial, vocal, or bodily reactions.

In parallel with changes in infants’ motor abilities,caregivers typically start to show in- creased variability in their expressive behaviors toward the infant, including a heigh-tened propensity to display emotionally negative facial signals in attempting to regu-late the infant’s actions in situations involving potential harm (Campos, Kermoian, & Zumbahlen, 1992). As a result, facial expressions begin to gain more direct referen-tial significance, which may enable infants to form associations between emotional signals and different contextual events. Whether or not the development of indepen-dent locomotion had an influence on the present pattern of results is not known, however, as data about the participants’ motor abilities were not collected. To date, there are no studies that would have tracked the development of emotional face-processing abilities in parallel with motor development. Leppänen and Nelson (2009, 2012) suggested that the shift in attentiveness to fear-related signals during the se-cond half-year of life is related to a functional maturation of a neural circuitry that is respon-sible for directing attention to emotionally significant signals (i.e., connectivity between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex).

The putative maturation of this system coincides with an increased distance and time away from the caregiver (due to motor development) and may even give rise to a sen-sitive period during which infants “expect” exposure to threat-alerting cues and show heightened readiness to process and store informati on about associations between emotions and objects in the environment (Leppänen & Nelson, 2012). In theory, such a sensitive period for processing fear-related inform ation could account for the pro-nounced attentiveness to fearful faces at 7 and 9 – but not at 11 – months of age. It is important to note,however,the results of Nakagawa and Sukigara (2012) who found a longitudinally stable effect of lower disengagement probabilities to fear-ful than happy and neutral faces from 12 to 36 months of age. Their results strongly suggest that the attentional bias to fearful expressions, emerging between 5 and 7 months of age, is an enduring phenomenon.

It is intriguing to note that there appears to be a developmental correspondence bet-ween the increase in infants’ attentiveness to fearful facial signals and the onset of emotional fear responses such as fear of heights (Campos et al.,1992) and wariness toward strangers (Braungart-Rieker, Hill-Soderlund,& Karrass, 2010). Cross-species data are available to suggest that it is a common pattern for the offspring of altricial species to show an apparent inability to respond fearfully to conspecifics or form threat-related associations toward the caregiver in the early phases in development (Moriceau & Sullivan, 2005). Only after reaching a certain developmental phase that is linked with an increase in independent locomotion and functional maturation of the amygdala do the species-typical fear responses begin to emerge.Such developmen-tal transitions in fear-related behaviors have been documented in monkeys (Bauman & Amaral, 2008) and in depth in rodents (Moriceau, Roth, & Sullivan, 2010). Sullivan and colleagues (Moriceau & Sullivan, 2005; Moriceau et al., 2010) have argued that the absence of fear-learning during early development may function to optimize and protect the infant’s attachment formation and proximity-seeking to the caregiver and, conversely, to prevent learning aversion toward the caregiver. Whether or not a simi-lar inhibition of fear-learning – that might also account for the absence of an attentio-nal bias to fearful facial signals in the youngest age group in the present study exists in human infants until the age of 5 to 7 months remains to be tested experimentally.

In Experiment 1, the HR data did not conform to our hypothesis in that there was no interaction between age and the strength of cardiac deceleration.Across age groups, there appeared to be a pronounced HR deceleration to fearful faces, although sepa-rate tests showed a significant effect only in the 5-month-old infants. While the rea-sons for the absence of significant effects in separate tests with the other age groups are not clear, the pattern of results nevertheless raises an interesting possibi-lity of a dissociation between the attentional measures based on eye movements and heart rate. It might thus be that the influences of emotional expressions on overt attention disengagement require functional interaction between limbic circuits provi-ding modulatory signals related to the emotional significance of stimuli (i.e., the amygdala) and areas controlling attentional focus (i.e.,PFC), and that such functional connectivity may not be sufficiently matured until the age of 5 to 7 months (Leppä-nen & Nelson, 2009,2012).The HR deceleration response to threat-related stimuli, on the other hand, may more closely reflect an obligatory,subcortically mediated attentional orienting response that is less dependent on cortical processing (Bradley, 2009; Lang & Bradley, 2010). The subcortical structures enabling infants to respond with cardiac decelerati on to various stimuli (e.g.,simple auditory stimuli and visual figures) appear to be functional already during the newborn period (Graham & Jack-son, 1970; Reynolds & Richards, 2007; Sameroff, Cashmore & Dykes, 1973). There-fore, it may be feasible to suggest that also the neural circuitry responsible for produ-cing the autonomic response to stimuli conveying potential emotional significance (i. e., connections from the amygdala to the brainstem structures controlling autonomic responses) may mature considerably earlier than the amygdalocortical circuitry enabling controlled attentiveness to emotional signals and producing the types of behavioral effects observed in the present experiments.

The pattern of age-related changes in the overall attention disengagement (i.e. across facial expressions) in Experiment 1 may reflect an increase in the capacity for endogenous attention control. In Experiment 1, the peripheral stimuli produced shifts of attention to their location on a majority of trials in 5-month-old infants, whereas infants from 7 to 11 months of age were more likely to maintain their attention on the central stimulus. In line with the present data,endogenous attention control has been shown to develop rapidly during the second half of the first year (Colombo, 2001; Kannass, Oakes, & Shaddy, 2006; Ruff & Rothbart, 1996), enabling infants to inhibit unwanted attention shifts and to prioritize interesting stimuli.

The increase in self-regulated control of attention is likely attributable to the matu- ration of prefrontal cortical structures which undergo major structural and functional maturational changes especially during the second half of the first year (Chugani & Phelps, 1986; Matsuzawa et al., 2001). However, similar changes in overall attention disengagement were not replicated in Experiment 2, limiting the interpretability of the results from Experiment 1.

In conclusion, the present study adds to the growing body of data indicating a tran-sition in processing emotional information at a round 5 to 7 months of age (Hoehl & Striano, 2010;Leppänen & Nelson,2009,2012; Peltola, Leppänen, Mäki et al., 2009).

Attention was allocated to fearful faces preferentially in 7- and 9-month-old,but not in 5-month-old infants. The emerging prioritization of emotional saliency in processing social signals may provide a crucial scaffold for an infant with a newly found level of independence to navigate in an increasingly complex social and physical environ-ment. A replication is needed to ascertain whether the pattern of results in the 11-month-old infants represents a genuine effect (i.e., an absence of attentional bias to fearful faces) or whether the attentional bias remains present over time (cf. Nakagawa & Sukigara, 2012).

A promising agenda for future studies is to determine the importance of develop-mental timing, i.e., whether variation in the onset of the attentional bias to threat-related signals is relevant in relation to future social and emotional outcomes.

A replication is needed to ascertain whether the pattern of results in the 11-month-old infants represents a genuine effect (i.e., an absence of attentional bias to fearful faces) or whether the attentional bias remains present over time (cf. Nakagawa & Sukigara, 2012).



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Peltola, M. J., Leppänen, J. M., Mäki, S., & Hietanen, J. K. (2009). Emergence of enhanced attention to fearful faces between 5 and 7 months of age. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 4, 134-142.

Peltola, M. J., Leppänen, J. M., Palokangas, T., & Hietanen, J. K. (2008). Fearful faces modulate looking duration and attention disengagement in 7-month-old infants. Developmental Science, 11, 60-68.

Peltola, M. J., Leppänen, J. M., Vogel-Farley, V. K., Hietanen, J. K., & Nelson, C. A. (2009). Fearful faces but not fearful eyes alone delay attention disengagement in 7-month-old infants. Emotion, 9, 560-565.

Reynolds, G. D., & Richards, J. E. (2007). Infant heart rate: A developmental psy-chophysiological perspective. In L. A. Schmidt, & S. J. Segalowitz (Eds.), Develop-mental psychophysiology: Theory, systems, and methods (pp. 173-212). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

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Author notes

This work was supported by the Kone Foundation (M.J.P.), the Academy of Finland (projects #131786, 130895, and 218284, M.J.P, J.K.H., J.M.L.) and the European Research Council (ERC Starting Grant # 283763, J.M.L).

(Pahimpia paskantakeita kaikki nuo...)


"Pelokkaisiin kasvoihin reagoimisen Keeni"...:



Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry *** (2013), pp **–**

Regulatory variant of the TPH2 gene and early life stress are associated with heightened attention to social signals of fear in infants

Linda Forssman, 1 , Mikko J. Peltola, 2,3,4, Santeri Yrttiaho, 1, Kaija Puura, 5, Nina Mononen, 6, Terho Lehtimäki, 6 and Jukka M. Leppänen 1

1 School of Medicine, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland;

2 School of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland;

3 Centre for Child and Family Studies, Leiden University, Leiden, Netherlands;

4 Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition, Leiden University, Leiden, Netherlands;

5 Department of Child Psychiatry, Tampere University Hospital, Tampere, Finland;

6 Department of Clinical Chemistry, Fimlab Laboratories and School of Medicine, University of Tampere and Tampere University Hospital, Tampere, Finland


Taustaa (miten tähän on tultu)...



" RK
22.09.2011 00:52:58

Tiedettä vai neurohölynpölyä?

EU on ryhtynyt massiivisesti rahoittamaan metodeiltaan arveluttavaa "neurotiedettä", kun "Akatemia" on vähentänyt "satsaustaan".


” päivitetty 22.9.2011 07:25, julkaistu 21.9.2011 22:36

Tamperelaistutkija sai 1,4 miljoonaa vauvatutkimukseen

Henna Sotamaa-Leino, Aamulehti

Tamperelainen vauvatutkimus sai alkuviikolla hyviä uutisia.

Akatemiatutkija Jukka Leppänen sai Euroopan tutkimusneuvostolta 1,4 miljoonan euron apurahan vauvojen havaintokyvyn tutkimiseen.

Tutkimuksessa selvitetään, miten vauvan kyky havaita sosiaalisia tunne-vihjeitä toisen ihmisen kasvoilta kehittyy. Apurahan ansiosta tutkimuk-sessa voidaan seurata noin sataa lasta viiden kuukauden iästä nelivuotiaiksi.

–Tutkimuksen ikähaarukkaan osuville tamperelaisvauvojen vanhemmille lähetetään tutkimuksesta tietoa postitse, Leppänen kertoo.

Tutkimus kestää noin viisi vuotta.

Leppäsen mukaan tunnevihjeiden tunnistaminen on välttämätöntä normaalin sosiaalisen vuorovaikutuksen kannalta.

– Tutkimme, miten erilaiset geneettiset tekijät ovat yhteydessä tämän taidon varhaiskehitykseen ja miten yksilölliset taidot ja poikkeamat kehittyvät.

Mihin apuraha käytetään? Lue aiheesta lisää torstain Aamulehdestä.

Aiheeseen lliityvä johdantojulkaisu (ajalta enne Marc Hauserin käryä):


” Humans in diverse cultures develop a similar capacity to recognize the emotional signals of different facial expressions. This capacity is media-ted by a brain network that involves emotion-related brain circuits and higher-level visual representation areas. Recent studies suggest that the key components of this network begin to emerge early in life.The studies also suggest that initial biases in emotion-related brain circuits and the early coupling of these circuits and cortical perceptual areas provides a foundation for a rapid acquisition of representations of those facial features that denote specific emotions. ”

57. Whalen PJ, Kagan J, Cook RG, Davis FC,Kim H,Polis S,et al. Human amygdala responsivity to masked fearful eye whites. Science. 2004; 306: 2061.

Maailmanluokan suurhuijareita Marc Hauseria (käry kesällä 2010) ja Ste-ven Pinkeriä lähteistä ei löydy eikä myöskään avointa ”peilisoluteoriaa”, vaikka osa tekijän artikkelista on ajalta ennen Hauserin käryä.

Mutta Pinkerin käryttäjä Jerome Kagan siis yllättäen löytyy:


Vauvojen ja apinoiden katseen seuraamiselle perustuvat ”tulkinnat” nii-den psyykkisestä elämästä ovat olleet parikymmentä vuotta keskeinen huijaustutkimuksen lähde (en tarkoita että kaikki ko.tutkimus absoluut-tisen varmasti olisi sitä,mutta en toisaalta yhtään ihmettelisi vaikka oli-sikin).Jenkit vislasivat sen USA:ssa poikki vuosi sitten panemalla keskei- sen ”auktoriteetin” (”apinapuolelta”) Marc Hauserin käpälälautaan.


“” Pistän tähän kirjoituksen maailman kuuluisimpiin lastenpsykiatreihin kuuluvan Jerome Kaganin kirjasta, jossa Pinkerin "kokeet" asetetaan omalle paikalleen humpuukitieteen joukkoon:

" Nature 419, 19 (2002); doi:10.1038/419019a

Shock results


Peter Bryant is in the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3UD, UK.

Surprise, Uncertainty and Mental Structures

by Jerome Kagan

Harvard University Press: 2002. 259 pp. $29.95, £20.50

Developmental psychology - or at any rate the part that deals with children's intellectual abi-lities - is in an awkward position at the moment be-cause it keeps on producing paradoxical and contradictory results. On one hand, a series of ingenious experi- ments has apparently shown that babies less than one year old possess some re-markable abilities.

According to these experiments, infants can discriminate numbers, can add and subtract, and can distinguish cause and effect in both the physical and the social worlds. On the other hand, a great deal of research on much older children, between the ages of three and about eight years, has apparently demonstrated that children in this age band often have serious difficulties with these same concepts.Their understanding of number appears fragile in such studies, their reasoning about arithmetical operations such as addition and subtraction is often erroneous, there are serious limitations to their grasp of cause and effect, and so on.

The contrast and apparent conflict between these two lines of research are stark and clear. Any suggestion that 6-month-old babies are much cleverer than children four and five years their senior would be highly implausible, and would be anathema to most developmental psychologists - their subject is dedicated to the proposition that intellectual skills improve throughout childhood. Another possible solution to this apparent impasse is to reappraise the work on infants. Are they as smart as this research suggests?

Jerome Kagan, who is a distinguished US developmental psychologist with an interest in children's emotional and intellectual development, has now provided such a reappraisal in his new book. He is well placed to do so because much of his research has been on children's expectations and their reactions to congruous and incongruous events. Nearly all of the work that apparently demonstrated various remarkable abilities in infants used their reaction to novelty and their surprise at unexpected events as a way of measuring such abilities. If, for example, you add one object to another and then show the baby that the product of your actions is three objects, and if the baby is more surprised to see this as the result than she is to see two objects there, you can argue that the baby knows something about addition.

Kagan's discussion of this pervasive use of babies' reactions to novel and unexpected events comes in the second half of the book. It is based on ideas,which he expounds in the first part, about the ways in which children and adults form expectations and are surprised when these are not fulfilled. His reasoning is sophisticated and interesting, but his conclusions are easy to summarize. He is highly sceptical of the claims made about the presence of surprising abi-lities in infants, and argues that their achieve-ments in these studies can be explained without ascribing huge intellectual acumen to them.

Kagan's reassessment of research on infants is the most important part of his new book. His arguments on the subject are controversial, of course,and should provoke a much-needed discussion. So the book will make a real contribution to the debate, and is definitely worth reading. "

Itse asiassa harrastajakin osaa heti tempaista Pinkerin "yllättyneisyystutkimuksien" kokeille uskottavamman selityksen ehdollistumisteorian pohjalta (jonka "kieltäminen" tai tarkemmin sanoen vilpillinen "sivuuttami
nen" on pinkerismin ydin) kuin "havainnon kannalta vastakkai- nen peritty tieto":se on havinnon kannalta vastakkainen OPIT- TU tieto, tai että yllättävät havainnot ovat aivan uudentyyppisiä,eivätkä jäsenny siten aikaisem- pien havaintojen kokonaisuuteen (ainakaan yhtä nopeasti kuin "tavallinen havainto". ”


Kukahan suomalsiessa yliopistossa ensimmäisenä päästtä suustaan nimen R. Douglas Fields... Sitä on aika kauan odotettu...



maanantai, 27. marraskuu 2017

"Synnynnäisen tiedon" vauvojen silmänliiketutkimukset ovat huijausta




IS Rich Interpretation Too Costly?

Marshall M. Haith



University of Denver The basic topic of my address today concerns how much of cognition is in the head of the infant and how much in the mind of the theoretician. My general stance is that we are being treated to an interpretive flavor of infant behavior that is much too rich.

Editor’s Note: The Haith and Spelke articles were presented in a debate at the meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Washington, D.C. April 1997.

Marshall Haith, Department of Psychology, University of Denver, 2155 South Race Street, Denver, CO 80208; e-mail: [email protected].

INFANT BEHAVIOR & DEVELOPMENT 21 (21, 1998, pp. 167-l 79 ISSN 0163-6383 Copyright 0 1998 Ablex Publishing Corporation
All rights of reproduction in any form reserved.



tiistai, 21. marraskuu 2017

Elisabeth Spelke - "synnynnäisen (ydin)tiedon" pölhöapostoli Harvajärkiopistosta


Elizabeth Spelke
Born May 28, 1949 (age 68)
Residence Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Education Cornell University, Yale University, Radcliffe College
Website https://software.rc.fas.harvard.edu/lds/research/spelke/elizabeth-spelke
Scientific career
Fields developmental psychology, cognitive development
Institutions Harvard Unive


Elizabeth Shilin Spelke (born May 28, 1949) is an American cognitive psychologist at the Department of Psychology of Harvard University and director of the Laboratory for Developmental Studies.

Starting in the 1980s,she carried out experiments on infants and young children to test their cognitive faculties. She has suggested that human beings have a large array of innate mental abilities.[1] In recent years, she has made important contri-butions to the debate on cognitive differences be-tween men and women. [2] She defends the position that there is no scienti-fic evidence of any significant disparity in the intellectual faculties of males and females. [3]


Editor’s Note:

The Haith and Spelke articles were presented in a debate at the meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Washington, D.C. April 1997.


- Elizabeth S. Spelke, EIO-246, MIT, Cambridge, MA 02139; e-mail: [email protected]. INFANT BEHAVIOR & DEVELOPMENT 21 (2), 1998, pp. 181-200 ISSN 0163-6383

Copyright 0 1998 Ablex Publishing Corporation

All rights of reproduction in any form reserved.

Editor’s Note:

The Haith and Spelke articles were presented in a debate at the meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Washington, D.C. April 1997.

- Elizabeth S. Spelke, EIO-246, MIT, Cambridge, MA 02139; e-mail: [email protected]. INFANT BEHAVIOR & DEVELOPMENT 21 (2), 1998, pp. 181-200 ISSN 0163-6383

Copyright 0 1998 Ablex Publishing Corporation

All rights of reproduction in any form reserved.








Elizabeth S. Spelke




What aspects of knowledge emerge in children prior to their first contacts with the objects of their knowledge, and what aspects emerge through the shaping effects of experience with those objects?


What aspects of knowledge are constant over human development from the moment that infants begin to make sense of the world, and what aspects change as children grow and learn?


What aspects of knowledge are universal, and what aspects vary across people in different cultures or with different educational backgrounds?


Finally, what aspects of knowledge can people change in themselves or their children with sufficient insight or effort, and what aspects are invariant?


These questions are central to a dialogue that has spanned more than 2000 years of intellectual history.


Contributors to the dialogue have raised the questions in order to shed light on larger con-cerns about human nature, child development, education, science, and society. Although contributors have tended to be labeled nativists” or empiricists” according to the kinds of answers they thought most plausible,most have viewed these questions as empiri- cal matters to be resolved not by ideology but by studies of the origins and development of knowledge.


Research on cognition in infancy remained a dormant enterprise throughout most of the history of the nativist-empiricist dialogue,however, because the tools then used to probe human knowledge were not appropriate for young children.


Today, the study of early cognitive development has overcome this longstanding barrier to progress. A number of tools have been developed over this century for investigating human cognitive states and processes, and some of these tools have been adapted for studies of preverbal children.


New tools of enor-mous promise are appearing, moreover, with the rapid development of cognitive neuroscience.


As ancient obstacles have been overcome, however. new obstacles have arisen. For the first time, these tools allow developmental scientists to use studies of infancy to shed light on the central questions of the nativist-empiricist dialogue.



OHOH täällä on oikein tuloksistakin Jukka Leppäseltä, ja uutta väikkäriä; ne ottaan syyniin kuten vanhatkin.


Vauvan tarkkaavaisuus kasvoihin voi kertoa sosiaalisesta kehityksestä

Julkaistu 5.7.2018 - 14:31

Tampereen yliopistossa tehdyn tutkimuksen mukaan vauvan tarkkaavaisuus ihmiskasvoja kohtaan on yhteydessä siihen, miten empaattiset piirteet kehittyvät myöhemmin lapsuusiässä. Tutkimustulosten mukaan vauvat,jotka osoittivat enemmän tarkkaavaisuutta kasvoja kohtaan seitsemän kuukauden ikäisinä, osoittivat todennäköisemmin spontaania prososiaalista käyt-täytymistä kaksivuotiaina. Niin ikään heillä havaittiin vähemmän ns. tunnekylmiä piirteitä nelivuotiaana.

Seurantatutkimukseen osallistui yli 200 vauvaa Tampereelta ja lähikunnista.Lapset osallistui- vat seitsemän kuukauden iässä silmänliiketutkimukseen, jossa mitattiin, kuinka kauan vauvo- jen tarkkaavaisuus pysyi kasvoja ja kasvonilmeitä esittävissä kuvissa.Sosiaalista kehitystä arvioitiin kahden ja neljän vuoden iässä silmänliikemittausten, havainnointitutkimusten sekä vanhempien arvioiden avulla.

Prososiaalisuutta tutkittiin tehtävillä, joissa lapsella oli mahdollisuus auttaa ongelmiin joutu-nutta vuorovaikutuskumppania.Tunnekylmiä piirteitä mitattiin vanhempien arvioimana. Tun-nekylmät piirteet viittaavat suhteellisesti vähäisempiin empatian kokemuksiin toisia ihmisiä kohtaan.

Prososiaalisuuteen ja tunnekylmiin piirteisiin liittyvien tulosten ohella tutkimuksessa todet-tiin tarkkaavaisuuden kasvoihin olevan voimakkainta 7 kuukauden iässä, mistä se vähenee kahden vuoden ikään mennessä.

Lisäksi tarkkaavaisuus kasvoihin vauvaiässä ei ollut yhteydessä toisen ihmisen mielen sisältöä ja tunnetilaa kuvaavien tarinoiden ymmärtämiseen nelivuotiaana.Tulosten perusteella vauvan tarkkaavaisuus kasvoihin näyt- tää siis liittyvän erityisesti sosiaalisen käyttäytymisen tasolla esiintyviin, mutta ei kielellistä prosessointia vaativiin sosiaalisiin kykyihin.

Jo vastasyntyneet vauvat ovat kiinnostuneita ihmiskasvoista ja kyky havainnoida ja tunnistaa kasvoilta erilaisia ominaisuuksia, kuten tunnetila tai henkilön identiteetti, kehittyy ensimmäisen elinvuoden aikana.

Vauvojen välillä on myös eroja, kuinka tarkkaavaisia he ovat toisten ihmisten kasvoja koh-taan. Tampereen yliopiston tutkimusta lukuun ottamatta kattavaa pitkittäistutkimusta vauva-iän kasvojen havaitsemisen yhteyksistä lapsen sosiaalisen käyttäytymisen kehitykseen on kuitenkin tehty erittäin vähän.

- Tutkimus korostaa vauvaiän kasvotutkimuksen tärkeyttä osoittamalla, että varhaiset yksilölliset erot sosiaalisen informaation havaitsemisessa voivat olla merkityksellisiä lapsen myöhemmän kehityksen ymmärtämiselle, kertoo akatemiatutkija Mikko Peltola.

-Seuraavaksi on tärkeää selvittää,replikoituvatko tässä saadut alustavat tulokset isommissa ja heterogeenisemmissa aineistoissa.Tampereella Infant Cognition -tutkimusryhmässä [ilmei- sesti lakkautettu] kehitetyt menetelmät antavat erinomaiset edellytykset ilmiön väestöpohjai-seen tutkimiseen, tutkimusjohtaja Jukka Leppänen toteaa tulosten merkityksestä.

Tutkimusta rahoittivat Suomen Akatemia ja Euroopan tutkimus-neuvosto. Tutkimustulokset julkaistiin Developmental Science -lehdessä.

Peltola MJ, Yrttiaho S,& Leppänen JM. (2018). Infants’ attention to faces as an early marker of social development. Developmental Science.


Tutkimusartikkelin voi lukea osoitteessa: https://rdcu.be/2rvl


Akatemiatutkija, dosentti Mikko Peltola, 050 318 6120, [email protected]
Tutkimusjohtaja, dosentti Jukka Leppänen, [email protected]