The articulatory information coming from an adult’s talking mouth and the social meaning expressed by their eyes play an important role in the child’s linguistic and communicative development. Recent studies have reported a significant relationship between the time a child spent looking towards the adult’s mouth and the child’s linguistic skills tested through questionnaires both at the time of the experiment (Morin-Lessard et al., 2019, Tsang et al., 2018) and some months later (Tenenbaum et al., 2015). No studies have so far investigated such relationships by testing children’s language in a naturalistic context. The aim of the present contribution is to test whether the child’s looking preference towards the mouth or the eyes a) is related to his/her current level of development and b) can predict later language production in a naturalistic context. The eye movements of 26 Italian children (M= 294 days; SD= 81.3) were tracked while listening to a story tallied in their native language using EyeLink1000; their language skills were observed at the same time of the experiment (T1) and three months later (T2). The children’s spontaneous vocal production during 20 minutes of interaction with their mother was transcribed and coded using three categories: preverbal forms, babbling, and words. Their expressive and receptive vocabularies were also assessed using the Italian version of the MB-CDI (Caselli et al., 2015) at T2. At both T1 and T2, the children who preferentially looked towards the month displayed lower levels of babbling and words than those who preferred to look toward the eyes. A significant and positive relationship has emerged between looking time to the mouth and expressive vocabulary at T2 (Spearman’s rho = .461, p = .018). These preliminary results suggest that mouth-looking is related to children’s vocabulary development. Further studies, with larger groups, are needed to confirm and generalise these results.

Does looking preference towards specific areas of the face explain later language development? An exploratory study in Italian infants

Bastianello T.;Majorano M.
2021

Abstract

The articulatory information coming from an adult’s talking mouth and the social meaning expressed by their eyes play an important role in the child’s linguistic and communicative development. Recent studies have reported a significant relationship between the time a child spent looking towards the adult’s mouth and the child’s linguistic skills tested through questionnaires both at the time of the experiment (Morin-Lessard et al., 2019, Tsang et al., 2018) and some months later (Tenenbaum et al., 2015). No studies have so far investigated such relationships by testing children’s language in a naturalistic context. The aim of the present contribution is to test whether the child’s looking preference towards the mouth or the eyes a) is related to his/her current level of development and b) can predict later language production in a naturalistic context. The eye movements of 26 Italian children (M= 294 days; SD= 81.3) were tracked while listening to a story tallied in their native language using EyeLink1000; their language skills were observed at the same time of the experiment (T1) and three months later (T2). The children’s spontaneous vocal production during 20 minutes of interaction with their mother was transcribed and coded using three categories: preverbal forms, babbling, and words. Their expressive and receptive vocabularies were also assessed using the Italian version of the MB-CDI (Caselli et al., 2015) at T2. At both T1 and T2, the children who preferentially looked towards the month displayed lower levels of babbling and words than those who preferred to look toward the eyes. A significant and positive relationship has emerged between looking time to the mouth and expressive vocabulary at T2 (Spearman’s rho = .461, p = .018). These preliminary results suggest that mouth-looking is related to children’s vocabulary development. Further studies, with larger groups, are needed to confirm and generalise these results.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11562/1053499
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