Examining real-time attention dynamics in parent-infant picture book reading

Zhang, Y., & Yu, C. (2022). Examining real-time attention dynamics in parent-infant picture book reading. In J. Culbertson, A. Perfors, H. Rabagliati, & V. Ramenzoni (Eds.), Proceedings of the 44th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2022) (pp. 1367-1374). Toronto, Canada: Cognitive Science Society.
Picture book reading is a common word-learning context from which parents repeatedly name objects to their child and it has been found to facilitate early word learning. To learn the correct word-object mappings in a book-reading context, infants need to be able to link what they see with what they hear. However, given multiple objects on every book page, it is not clear how infants direct their attention to objects named by parents. The aim of the current study is to examine how infants mechanistically discover the correct word-object mappings during book reading in real time. We used head-mounted eye-tracking during parent-infant picture book reading and measured the infant's moment-by-moment visual attention to the named referent. We also examined how gesture cues provided by both the child and the parent may influence infants' attention to the named target. We found that although parents provided many object labels during book reading, infants were not able to attend to the named objects easily. However, their abilities to follow and use gestures to direct the other social partner’s attention increase the chance of looking at the named target during parent naming.
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