Results from a new study show that infants and toddlers require more time to notice new visual stimuli, and their gaze is less accurate than adults. However, both of these skills appear to improve slowly as they grow. This data helps to stress the significance of providing young children with stimulating environments, especially at an early age.
The added lesson from this study is in it’s relation to modern eye tracking tools that are becoming increasingly common in detecting developmental disorders.
As young children have less control on the movements of their eyes, tracking them may provide less useful data in comparison to slightly older children.
Karine Doré-Mazars, PhD, author of the study, stresses the lack of medical data for child eye tracking, saying “Literature looking at eye movements in infants is very scarce. It rests on a handful of studies in the 70’s and 80’s based on a few observations collected from a few infants, which make the conclusions fragile.”
For the purposes of this study, researchers devised a test that involved an animated cartoon character which appeared randomly on a computer screen in front of the children, which were then monitored in order to evaluate their visual response time and gaze accuracy. The children’s test results were compared to those of adults, which demonstrated the two primary differences between them.
“First, it takes more time for infants to be aware that something appeared on the screen and to go look at it. Second, their eye movements are a little less precise than adults. These results were expected, given that the brain regions that produce these eye movements are not fully mature in our age range studied,” said Doré-Mazars.