EEG correlates of the development of infant joint attention skills

  • Mundy P
  • Card J
  • Fox N
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The development of the capacity for social attention coordination, or "joint attention," is a major milestone of infancy. Data from a recent study of handicapped infants have raised the hypothesis that the tendency to initiate bids for joint attention may reflect processes associated with the frontal cortex to a greater extent than other forms of infant attention coordination (R. Caplan et al., 1993). This hypothesis was examined in a longitudinal study of 32 normally developing infants. The results indicated that EEG data at 14 months indicative of left frontal, as well as left and right central cortical activity, was associated with the tendency to initiate joint attention bids (IJA) at 14 and 18 months. In contrast, a pattern of left parietal activation and right parietal deactivation at 14 months was associated with the development of the capacity to respond to the joint attention bids (RJA) of others at 14 and 18 months. These results were interpreted to be consistent with a general anterior-posterior model of attention development (M. Posner & S. Petersen, 1990). The implications of these results for current conceptualizations of joint attention development, as well as for understanding the disturbance of joint attention skill development in autism are discussed.

Author-supplied keywords

  • EEG
  • Infant development
  • Joint attention

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  • Peter Mundy

  • Judith Card

  • Nathan Fox

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