Hand-Eye Coordination and Visual Attention in Infancy

AbstractIn crowded and cluttered environments, infants can reduce visual clutter by using manual actions to bring objects closer to the eyes, what we refer to as hand-eye coordination. Hand-eye coordination is therefore hypothesized to be an important ability for controlling and distributing attention. Little is known about how the emerging ability to integrate both gaze and manual actions onto objects impacts how attention is distributed. Twenty-five infants participated in a naturalistic toy play session that included 24 toys. Overall, infants generated distributions of attention that were right-skewed, reflecting coherence: a composition of selectivity of a few highly-frequent toys and exploration of many less-frequent toys. We observed that individual differences in hand-eye coordination impacted distributions of attention, with infants displaying low hand-eye coordination having dramatically less coherent distributions of visual attention during bouts of hand-eye coordination. These results suggest that hand-eye coordination is a critical pathway for visual attention.

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