The first eye-tracker study on children’s cognitive development has been completed

185 families have participated in our eye-tracking studies! Now we continue with the next stage of the project, the analysis of the data obtained in the two tests of cognitive development at 6 months.

We have explored two skills that reflect the state of babies’ cognitive development; visual recognition memory and object permanence perception.

In the study of visual recognition memory, we first present a pair of identical stimuli (we use faces or geometric drawings) and, after a few seconds, we present a change in one of the images. This task allows us to extract basic individual measures of eye scanning, such as average looking time or speed of changes, and on the other hand, it allows us to calculate the percentage of time spent looking at the new stimulus, which reflects the extent to which infants have memorized the first stimulus and are now interested in the new stimulus (recognition memory).

Through the second task, we studied whether the infant has already developed “object permanence”, i.e., the understanding that an object continues to exist even when it cannot be seen. For this purpose, we present a video showing a ball moving from one side of the screen to the other, passing behind an opaque panel. We measure the ability to anticipate the appearance of the object (the speed and timing of gaze to the other side of the panel).

These preliminary group-level findings are an important measure the infants’ early cognitive abilities and show that they are able to do visual recognition and anticipation. Subsequently, individual differences that might be associated with biological and environmental risk factors will be analyzed.

Once again, we thank all volunteers for their trust, effort and willingness to contribute to scientific knowledge.

We would like to remind you that you are invited to participate in the 18-month visit in which we explore the ability of babies to learn words. We are waiting for you!

This text has been written by Jessica Sánchez-Galán and Joan Birulés, researchers from Universitat de Barcelona and colaborating with BiSC eye-tracking experiments.