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Infants sensory profiles predict their later enjoyment of TV

Updated: Jul 19, 2022

In a new study publishe in the journal Infancy we show that those 10 month old infants that are biased to seek novel visual information are more likely to enjoy watching fast paced TV shows, 6 months later, as reported by parents.

Piccardi, E., Johnson, M.H., Gliga, T. Explaining individual differences in infants’ visual sensation seeking. Infancy

Individual differences in infants’ engagement with their environment manifest

early in development and are noticed by parents. Three views have been advanced to explain differences in seeking novel stimulation. The optimal stimulation hypothesis suggests that individuals seek further stimulation when they are under-responsive to current sensory input. The processing speed hypothesis proposes that those capable of processing information faster are driven to seek stimulation more frequently. The information prioritization hypothesis suggests that differences in stimulation seeking index variation in the prioritisation of incoming relative to ongoing information processing. 10-month-old infants saw 10 repetitions of a video clip and changes in frontal theta oscillatory amplitude were measured as an index of information processing speed. Stimulus-locked P1 peak amplitude in response to checkerboards briefly overlaid on the video at random points during its presentation indexed processing of incoming stimulation. Parental report of higher visual seeking did not relate to reduced P1 peak amplitude or to a stronger decrease in frontal theta amplitude with repetition, thus not supporting either the optimal stimulation or the processing speed hypotheses. Higher visual seeking occurred in those infants whose P1 peak amplitude was greater than expected based on their theta amplitude. These findings indicate that visual sensory seeking in infancy is explained by a bias towards novel stimulation, thus supporting the information prioritization hypothesis.

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