Infant and Child Research

Infant and child researchers use eye tracking to study perceptual, cognitive, and social emotional development from birth through early adulthood.

Why use eye tracking in infant and child research?

Eye tracking plays an important role in gathering data about how children interact with the people and the world around them. This technology is the most unobtrusive and reliable way to collect eye movement data from infants and children who typically can't sit still for long periods of time and have short attention spans. Using an eye tracker, developmental researchers can gain a deeper understanding of when specific capabilities emerge and how they change over time.

Researchers can use this tool to investigate spatial relations, problem solving, number sense, language acquisition, and cause and effect relationships, as well as social interaction and gaze following. Eye tracking data can help explore infants' ability to categorize visual, linguistic, and auditory events, and scan dynamic human faces.

Among older children and adolescents, researchers study cognitive processes like executive function and social interaction. Due to the more portable, lightweight design of today's eye tracking systems, these studies can now be carried out in real-world environments.

Products and services

Tobii Pro eye trackers are known for their exceptional tolerance of substantial, dynamic head movement which allows for minimal restrictions on the subjects' natural actions. This makes them ideal for infant and child studies, as well as atypical populations.

Tobii Pro TX300

The Tobii Pro TX300 eye tracker collects gaze data at 300 Hz. This is ideal for eye tracking studies that require a higher sampling rate; e.g. resolving fine eye movements such as saccades and microsaccades, fixations, or capturing physiological indicators such as pupil size and blinks.

The powerful combination of a high sampling rate and a large head movement box enables unobtrusive eye tracking of infants and children. The Pro TX300's widescreen high-definition display supports a broad range of demanding visual presentations. From social interaction to preferential looking paradigms, image and video stimuli are rendered with clarity.

More researchers are combining eye tracking with biometric sensors, and the Pro TX300 is ready for these applications. The system can be synchronized with an extensive range of EEG and GSR systems, including those from Brain Products, EGI, and ANT.

Learn more about Tobii Pro TX300.

Other screen-based eye trackers

A screen-based eye tracking system can be used for a broad spectrum of cognition and psychology studies. The compact form-factor allows you to collect eye tracking data wherever your participants are, rather than a typical lab setting, if needed.

Learn more about these screen-based eye trackers

Tobii Pro Glasses 2

This wearable eye tracking system is ideal for research of real-world objects and environments. Tobii Pro Glasses 2 is lightweight and unobtrusive which allows the wearer to behave naturally. For example, they can be used with school children for conducting research in classrooms and other real-world settings.

Learn more about Tobii Pro Glasses 2.

Software options

Tobii Pro Studio eye tracking software provides efficient tools for visualization and AOI analysis of scanning patterns and other data. Customized calibration routines for infants and children make the process fast and easy, reducing the amount of time needed for the set-up of each child. It is easy to set up bold, attention-grabbing stimuli using video and audio.

A range of other applications are compatible with Tobii Pro eye trackers, including E-Prime Extensions for Tobii and the Tobii Pro Analytics Software Development Kit (Tobii Pro Analytics SDK), which comes with free MATLAB and Python 2.7 bindings. Researchers who want to develop their own eye tracking applications can download the Tobii Pro Analytics SDK at no cost. More applications that build on the SDK can be found at the Application Market for Tobii Pro eye trackers.


Uppsala University

Eye tracking is used in developmental psychology to explain infants' growth and transformation in cognitive, social and emotional abilities. At the Department of Psychology's Child and Baby Lab at Uppsala University in Sweden, Claes von Hofsten and his fellow researchers use eye tracking to measure development of infants' object representation and study the differences in social interactions in children with typical development and children with autism. Read more

Osaka University

Researchers at Osaka University developed a quantitative method for identifying individuals with autism by analyzing temporo-spatial gaze patterns, which could help experts diagnose the issue earlier. Read more

University of Rochester

The Rochester Baby Lab used eye tracking to test whether infants could make use of the information contained in speech disfluencies, such as "uh" and "um". Read more

  • Wass, S. V., Jones, E. J. H., Gliga, T., Smith, T. J., Charman, T., Johnson, M. H., … Volein, A. (2015). Shorter spontaneous fixation durations in infants with later emerging autism. Scientific Reports, 5, 8284.
  • Oláh, K., Elekes, F., Bródy, G., & Király, I. (2014). Social Category Formation Is Induced by Cues of Sharing Knowledge in Young Children. PLoS ONE, 9(7), e101680. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0101680
  • Davidse, N. J., de Jong, M. T., Shaul, S., & Bus, A. G. (2014). A twin-case study of developmental number sense impairment. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 31(3), 221–236. doi:10.1080/02643294.2013.876980

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