Publications of Deligianni, F.

Automated gaze-contingent objects elicit orientation following in 8-month-old infants

The current study tested whether the purely amodal cue of contingency elicit orientation following behaviour in 8-months-old infants. We presented 8-month-old infants with automated objects without human features that did or did not react contingently to the infants' fixations recorded by an eye-tracker. We found that an object's occasional orientation towards peripheral targets was reciprocated by a congruent visual orientation following response by infants only when it had displayed gaze-contingent interactivity. Our finding demonstrates that infants' gaze following behaviour does not depend on the presence of a human being. The results are consistent with the idea that the detection of contingent reactivity, like other communicative signals, can itself elicit the illusion of being addressed in 8-months-old infants.

Early cortical specialization for face-to-face communication in human infants

This study examined the brain bases of early human social cognitive abilities. Specifically, we investigated whether cortical regions implicated in adults' perception of facial communication signals are functionally active in early human development. Four-month-old infants watched two kinds of dynamic scenarios in which a face either established mutual gaze or averted its gaze, both of which were followed by an eyebrow raise with accompanying smile. Haemodynamic responses were measured by near-infrared spectroscopy, permitting spatial localization of brain activation (experiment 1), and gamma-band oscillatory brain activity was analysed from electroencephalography to provide temporal information about the underlying cortical processes (experiment 2). The results revealed that perceiving facial communication signals activates areas in the infant temporal and prefrontal cortex that correspond to the brain regions implicated in these processes in adults. In addition, mutual gaze itself, and the eyebrow raise with accompanying smile in the context of mutual gaze, produce similar cortical activations. This pattern of results suggests an early specialization of the cortical network involved in the perception of facial communication cues, which is essential for infants' interactions with, and learning from, others.