Social gaze in preterm infants may act as an early indicator of atypical lateralization.
Davis R., Donati G., Finnegan K., Boardman JP., Dean B., Fletcher-Watson S., Forrester GS.
Visual field biases have been identified as markers of atypical lateralization in children with developmental conditions, but this is the first investigation to consider early lateralized gaze behaviors for social stimuli in preterm infants. Eye-tracking methods with 51 preterm (33 male, 92.1% White) and 61 term-born (31 male, 90.1% White) infants aged 8-10 months from Edinburgh, UK, captured the development of visual field biases, comparing gaze behavior to social and non-social stimuli on the left versus right of the screen. Preterm infants showed a significantly reduced interest to social stimuli on the left versus right compared to term children (d = .58). Preterm children exhibit early differential orienting preferences that may be an early indicator of atypical lateralized function.