Long before infants or young children can talk, eye tracking can provide detailed information about what they perceive and find compelling about the world.
Applicability of eye tracking within the field of developmental research is broad, including studies of:
In research on social cognition and interaction, eye tracking is used to study how and what infants and children look at when watching people perform goal-oriented actions or engage in social events. By analyzing infants' scanning patterns, researchers can answer questions such as:
Eye tracking is an invaluable research tool aimed at understanding how infants develop control over the oculomotor system and how different eye motions (smooth pursuit, saccades, and vestibulo-ocular) are integrated. Typically in such studies, infants are presented with target images that move in various trajectories, and eye tracking is used to measure their eye and head movements as they track these objects.
Scanning patterns provide valuable information about how infants distribute their attention and interest as they scan different images or dynamic events. Saccade latencies give information about when infants shift their gaze between two locations, allowing researchers to study predictive and reactive gaze shifts. Being able assess eye movement data over time allows examination of the time course of learning and how infants' attention changes over multiple presentations of a stimulus set.
Much research has been carried out to understand how infants remember (represent) temporarily hidden or occluded objects. Eye tracking can provide a detailed description of how infants' actions are directed to ongoing occlusion events, by determining when and where their gaze shifts from one location to another (saccades can be predictive of future target locations, with latency indicating how far in advance this prediction is made), thus revealing the development of object permanence.
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