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Browsing by Subject "gaze behavior"

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  • Stjerna, Susanna (2015)
    Background and purpose: Newborn visual alertness (NVA) and orientation (NVO) are established clinical markers of brain health and maturation. They are thought to reflect the early form of attentional alerting and orienting networks and form the base for the development of more complex cognitive and executive functions that emerge later in infancy and early childhood. To examine this hypothesis, the present study aimed to find out if NVA and NVO are associated with attention regulation at the age of 7 months. Methods: This study was a part of two larger ongoing research projects. A total of 54 full term low risk infants were included in the study. The infants' NVA and NVO were assessed as part of a regular neurological assessment of a newborn infant. Later, at the age of seven months, the infants participated in an eye-tracking study. Four alternating stimuli (fearful, happy and neutral face and noise stimulus) were presented as the central stimulus and a geometrical shape (black and white balls or checker board) as the overlapping peripheral target. The gaze shift latencies from central stimulus to the peripheral target and the effect of the central stimulus' content on the gaze shift latencies were analyzed and then compared between the different NVA and NVO groups. Results: NVA: Infants with good and intermediate NVA shifted gaze fast and showed the bias towards a fearful face. Infants who looked only briefly at the moving target as newborns (poor NVA) were also fast but had no bias towards fearful faces. NVO: Infants with good NVO were also fast in shifting gaze and fearful faces modified the gaze behavior. Infants who followed moving targets only with gaze without a head turn as newborns (intermediate NVO) were slower than the other infants in gaze shifting at the age of seven months. Additionally, these infants did not show the bias towards fearful faces. Infants with poor NVO were not different from the infants with the best NVO showing fast and flexible gaze behavior. Conclusions: These results suggest a continuum of gaze behavior from the newborn period to the late infancy. Good alertness and orientation were associated with good attentional and perceptual competence at the age of seven months. Weak alertness was associated with fast and less flexible gaze behavior than in the other infants at the age of seven months. Following with eye movements only was associated with slow and less flexible gaze behavior than in the other infants. The differences in the gaze behavior of the infants who followed only with the gaze or had a poor alertness when compared to the other infants can reflect typical but slower maturation of an infant or more persistent difference in the development.