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Enhanced gaze-following behavior in Deaf infants of Deaf parents.

Authors
  • Brooks, Rechele1
  • Singleton, Jenny L2
  • Meltzoff, Andrew N1
  • 1 Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
  • 2 Department of Linguistics, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Developmental Science
Publisher
Wiley (Blackwell Publishing)
Publication Date
Mar 01, 2020
Volume
23
Issue
2
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1111/desc.12900
PMID: 31486168
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Gaze following plays a role in parent-infant communication and is a key mechanism by which infants acquire information about the world from social input. Gaze following in Deaf infants has been understudied. Twelve Deaf infants of Deaf parents (DoD) who had native exposure to American Sign Language (ASL) were gender-matched and age-matched (±7 days) to 60 spoken-language hearing control infants. Results showed that the DoD infants had significantly higher gaze-following scores than the hearing infants. We hypothesize that in the absence of auditory input, and with support from ASL-fluent Deaf parents, infants become attuned to visual-communicative signals from other people, which engenders increased gaze following. These findings underscore the need to revise the 'deficit model' of deafness. Deaf infants immersed in natural sign language from birth are better at understanding the signals and identifying the referential meaning of adults' gaze behavior compared to hearing infants not exposed to sign language. Broader implications for theories of social-cognitive development are discussed. A video abstract of this article can be viewed at https://youtu.be/QXCDK_CUmAI. © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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