Detecting social information in a dense database of infants’ natural visual experience

AbstractThe faces and hands of caregivers and other social partners offer a rich source of social and causal information that may be critical for infants’ cognitive and linguistic development. Previous work using manual annotation strategies and cross-sectional data has found systematic changes in the proportion of faces and hands in the egocentric perspective of young infants. Here, we examine the prevalence of faces and hands in a longitudinal collection of nearly 1700 headcam videos collected from three children along a span of 6 to 32 months of age—the SAYCam dataset (Sullivan, Mei, Perfors, Wojcik, & Frank, under review). To analyze these naturalistic infant egocentric videos, we first validated the use of a modern convolutional neural network of pose detection (OpenPose) for the detection of faces and hands. We then applied this model to the entire dataset, and found a higher proportion of hands in view than previous reported and a moderate decrease the proportion of faces in children’s view across age. In addition, we found variability in the proportion of faces/hands viewed by different children in different locations (e.g., living room vs. kitchen), suggesting that individual activity contexts may shape the social information that infants experience.

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