The findings emerged from Economic and Social Research Council funded research investigating different styles of visual attention in babies from the age of two to eight months. Paying attention to visual stimuli is important in the development of object recognition, and is also needed for the development of memory, motor skills and other key abilities. Led by psychologists Dr Emily Farran at the University of Reading and Dr Janice Brown at London South Bank University, the initial aim of the research was to investigate the underlying reasons why some babies are 'short-lookers' and shift visual attention rapidly, while others are 'long-lookers' who keep their attention fixed for longer.
Previously, these categories were thought to be relatively stable traits indicative of individual differences, with links to later cognitive development. However, the research revealed that babies often move between these two categories over the timescale studied. "The literature talks about the short-looking and long-looking categories, and links to later abilities are suggested. Unusually, we looked at this longitudinally, so we were able to pick up that these categories weren't stable" says Dr Farran. "So these differences can't be indicative of differential brain development, or predictive of later abilities."
Some of the research was designed to test whether infants are able to organise visual stimuli into groups based on similar attributes: brigh
Contact: Alexandra Saxon
Economic & Social Research Council