A Moment of Science

Infants Get Cues From Adult Eyes

Read on to learn about the possibility that infants are interested in the same things as their parents.

By paying attention to what adults look at, babies begin to learn about language and the emotions of other people. They are taking social cues from their parent by taking note of what objects seem important to its mother or father. Following another person’s gaze is not only a crucial component of human social interactions, but it seems to be uniquely human.

Other animals, such as apes, might follow each other’s gazes. But it appears they’re following head movements but not going on to make inferences the way humans do. In a related study, 14-month old infants not only noticed what adults were looking at, but could distinguish between open eyes and closed, as well eyesight blocked by a cloth. That is, more infants took notice of what the adult was turning toward if that person’s eyes were open and uncovered.

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