The Impact of Synchronized Tactile Stimulation on Joint Attention in 11-Month-Old Infants
thesisposted on 2021-05-23, 13:15 authored by Rebecca Stein
Infants explore the world through many combinations of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. A recent theory known as the “intersensory redundancy hypothesis” posits that the temporal overlap of stimulation across different sense modalities drives selective attention in infancy. Social communication typically involves visual, auditory and tactile cues for infants. Although infrequently studied, rhythmic touch is thought to be inherently rewarding; if manipulated within a social context, it may be able to reinforce joint attention. Given that joint attention is fundamental to the development of social communication, this study investigated the convergent effects of visual, auditory and tactile cues on the expression of joint attention in 10 infants between 11 to 12 months of age. The addition of synchronized (but not asynchronous) tactile stimulation to natural communication cues was associated with higher performance on a joint attention measure (i.e. more frequent responses to parental requests). Implications for autism are discussed.