Mother-infant social gaze dynamics relate to infant brain activity and word segmentation

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschung


  • Monica Vanoncini
  • Stefanie Hoehl
  • Birgit Elsner
  • Sebastian Wallot
  • Natalie Boll-Avetisyan
  • Ezgi Kayhan
The ‘social brain’, consisting of areas sensitive to social information, supposedly gates the mechanisms involved in human language learning. Early preverbal interactions are guided by ostensive signals, such as gaze patterns, which are coordinated across body, brain, and environment. However, little is known about how the infant brain processes social gaze in naturalistic interactions and how this relates to infant language development. During free-play of 9-month-olds with their mothers, we recorded hemodynamic cortical activity of ´social brain` areas (prefrontal cortex, temporo-parietal junctions) via fNIRS, and micro-coded mother’s and infant’s social gaze. Infants’ speech processing was assessed with a word segmentation task. Using joint recurrence quantification analysis, we examined the connection between infants’ ´social brain` activity and the temporal dynamics of social gaze at intrapersonal (i.e., infant’s coordination, maternal coordination) and interpersonal (i.e., dyadic coupling) levels. Regression modeling revealed that intrapersonal dynamics in maternal social gaze (but not infant’s coordination or dyadic coupling) coordinated significantly with infant’s cortical activity. Moreover, recurrence quantification analysis revealed that intrapersonal maternal social gaze dynamics (in terms of entropy) were the best predictor of infants’ word segmentation. The findings support the importance of social interaction in language development, particularly highlighting maternal social gaze dynamics.
ZeitschriftDevelopmental Cognitive Neuroscience
Anzahl der Seiten8
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 01.02.2024

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