In infancy, you can observe an explosive growth in infant behavior. Therefore, many researchers choose to focus on this age group. For instance, they try to understand how infants move in order to behave in an adaptive and functional way to get things done and learn what they need to learn.
Studies aimed at finding out more about language development, attention, controlling movements, social interactions, or learning behaviors in infancy are often carried out using audio and video recordings. That’s where Viso and The Observer®XT come in handy, as these are the right tools to capture infants’ behaviors and reactions to stimuli.
Research is often performed in observation labs. In a controlled environment, you can accurately measure exploratory gaze behavior or emotional reactions. Some researchers use eye tracker data together with video recordings to capture the exact gaze of the infant. In addition, Baby FaceReader is now available, and enables you to recognize the facial expressions of an infant automatically!
Facial expressions of infants
Baby FaceReader enables you to recognize the facial expressions of an infant automatically! Since young infants are unable to provide verbal feedback, their facial expressions can provide extra insights that help us to understand their emotional reactions. With Baby FaceReader, you can analyze infant responses to taste, odor, and other sensory stimuli, detect the expressive behaviors that occur during parent-child interactions, help address questions in developmental psychology related to affect and developmental disorders, and more.
Baby FaceReader works in an unobtrusive way and captures a positive and negative valence, a set of Action Units – based on the Baby Facial Action Coding System (Baby FACS) - and head orientation.
Examples of infant studies
- The team of researcher Gangi examined prospectively infant gaze behavior at six, nine, and 12 months of age in infants who were later diagnosed with ASD, as well as low and high-risk infants without autism spectrum disorder outcomes. They aimed to determine whether gaze behavior shown during a test with an unfamiliar examiner could predict gaze behavior in a more naturalistic context.
- The Centre for Infant Cognition (CIC), at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, Canada, looked at minute eye gaze changes, hand gestures, and the emotions of infants while they observed a moral dilemma or social interaction, which was usually depicted in a puppet show.
- The iCare (Improving Children’s Auditory Rehabilitation) project is a network of young researchers working in the field of communication concerning children with hearing impairment.
- The HANDS lab at Florida International University, Miami and the Infant Development Center of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro worked together to study the development of hand use in infants. Eliza Nelson and colleagues used The Observer XT to code the behaviors of young children efficiently and accurately, and explored actions where two hands work together to achieve a goal.
Naturalistic observation of infant behavior
An infant will not be able to fill out a long survey or communicate with an interviewer, so that rules out the possibilities for achieving those types of studies! As a result, your best bet is performing observational studies. For these studies, observation labs are extremely useful. You can observe an infant unobtrusively and in a setting similar to their natural environment, and can be certain that your data is coded accurately and efficiently with The Observer XT.
Interested in more studies, for example about early detection of autism, gaze behavior, child development, or the impact of sounds on autistic children? Read our other blog posts on our Behavioral Research Blog.
A diverse collection of scientific articles citing Noldus products are published in renowned journals. The following list is only a small selection of scientific publications in different research fields.
- Campbell, J.; Marcinowski, E.C.; Michel, G.F. (2017). The development of neuromotor skills and hand preference during infancy. Developmental Psychobiology. Doi: 10.1002/dev.21591
- Campbell, J.M.; Marcinowski, E.C.; Babik, I.; Michel, G.F. (2015). The influence of a hand preference for acquiring objects on the development of a hand preference for unimanual manipulation from 6-14 months. Infant Behavior and Development, 39, 107-117.
- Einspieler, C.; Marschik, P.B.; Domingues, W.; Talisa, V.B.; Bartl-Pokorny, K.D.; Wolin, T.; Sigafoos, J. (2014). Monozygotic twins with Rett syndrome: phenotyping the first two years of life. Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 26, 171-182.
- Gangi, D.N.; Schwichtenberg, A.J.; Iosif A.-M.; Young, G.S.; Baguio F. & Ozonoff, S. (2017). Gaze to faces across interactive contexts in infants at heightened risk for autism. Autism: the international journal of research and practice. (00), 1-6. DOI: 10.1177/1362361317704421.
- Lee, R.; Skinner, A.; Bornstein, M.H.; Radford, A.N.; Campbell, A.; Graham, K.; Pearson, R.M. (2017). Through babies' eyes: Practical and theoretical considerations of using wearable technology to measure parent-infant behaviour from the mothers' and infants' view points. Infant Behavior and Development, 47, 62-71.
- Lunkenheimer, E.; Kemp, C.J.; Lucas-Thompson, R.G.; Cole, P.M.; Albrecht, E.C. (2016). Assessing biobehavioural self-regulation and coregulation in early childhood: The parent-child challenge task. Infant and Child Development, 26 (1), doi:10.1002/icd.1965
- Nelson, E.L.; Gonzalez, S.L.; Coxe, S.; Campbell, J.M.; Marcinowski, E.C.; Michel, G.F. (2017). Toddler hand preference trajectories predict 3-year language outcome. Developmental Psychobiology, doi: 10.1002/dev.21560.
- Puyvelde, M. van; Loots, G.; Vinck, B.; Coster, L. de; Matthijs, L.; Mouvet, K. (2013). The interplay between tonal synchrony and social engagement in mother-infant interaction. Infancy, 1-24
- Rousseau, P.V.; Matton, F.; Lecuyer, R.; Lahaye, W. (2017). The moro reaction: more than a reflex, a ritualized behavior of nonverbal communication. Infant Behavior and Development, 46, 169-177.
- Sung, J.; Fausto-Sterling, A.; Garcia Coll, C.; Seifer, R. (2013). The dynamics of age and sex in the development of mother-infant vocal communication between 3 and 11 months. Infancy, 1-24.
- Umemura, T.; Jacobvitz, D.; Messina, S.; Hazen, N. (2012). Do toddlers prefer the primary caregiver or the parent with whom they feel more secure? The role of toddler emotion. Infant Behavior & Development, 36, 102-114.
- Williams, J.L.; Corbetta, D.; Guan, Y. (2015). Learning to reach with "sticky"or "non-sticky" mittens: A tale developmental trajectories. Infant Behavior and Development, 38, 82-96.
- Zambrzycka, J.: Kotsopoulos, D.; Lee, J.; Makosz, S. (2017). In any way, shape, or form? Toddlers' understanding of shapes. Infant Behavior and Development, 46, 144-157.