Infant neural sensitivity to eye gaze depends on early experience of gaze communication

Angelina Vernetti, Nataşa Ganea, Leslie Tucker, Tony Charman, Mark H. Johnson, Atsushi Senju

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
156 Downloads (Pure)


A fundamental question in functional brain development is how the brain acquires specialised processing optimised for its individual environment. The current study is the first to demonstrate that distinct experience of eye gaze communication, due to the visual impairment of a parent, affects the specificity of brain responses to dynamic gaze shifts in infants. Event-related potentials (ERPs) from 6-10 months old sighted infants with blind parents (SIBP group) and control infants with sighted parents (CTRL group) were recorded while they observed a face with gaze shifting Toward or Away from them. Unlike the CTRL group, ERPs of the SIBP group did not differentiate between the two directions of gaze shift. Thus, selective brain responses to perceived gaze shifts in infants may depend on their eye gaze communication experience with the primary caregiver. This finding highlights the critical role of early communicative experience in the emerging functional specialisation of the human brain.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDevelopmental Cognitive Neuroscience
Early online date26 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


  • eye gaze
  • event-related potential
  • infant study
  • social experience
  • non-verbal communication


Dive into the research topics of 'Infant neural sensitivity to eye gaze depends on early experience of gaze communication'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this