We used eye tracking to investigate where infants and adults directed their gaze on a scene right before reaching. Infants aged 5, 7, 9, and 11 months old and adults looked at a human hand holding an object out of reach for 5 s, then the hand moved the object toward the participant for reaching. We analyzed which part of the scene (the object, the hand, or elsewhere) infants and adults attended the most during those 5 s before reaching. Findings revealed that adults’ visual fixations were majorly focused on the object to reach. Young infants’ looking patterns were more widely distributed between the hand holding the object, the object, and other nonrelevant areas on the scene. Despite distributed looking on the scene, infants increased their amount of time looking at the object between 5 and 11 months. Nine- and 11-month-olds showed overall accumulated looking durations comparable to adults’ for most of the objects; however, 9-month-olds differed in their rate of gaze transition between scene areas. From the age of 5 months old, infants are able to sustain their gaze to the pertinent scene area when the scene contains a central object on which they will later be able to act.
Wiener and Corbetta are with the Dept. of Psychology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN. Thurman is with the Dept. of Psychology, Elon University, Elon, NC.