When Do Infants Begin to Follow a Point?
Infants’ understanding of a pointing gesture represents a major milestone in their communicative development. The current consensus is that infants are not capable of following a pointing gesture until 9–12 months of age. In this article, we present evidence from 4- and 6-month-old infants challenging this conclusion. Infants were tested with a spatial cueing paradigm in Experiment 1 (500-ms stimulus-target onset asynchrony [SOA]) and Experiment 2 (100-ms SOA). The results revealed that the younger infants shifted their attention in the cued direction when presented with a pointing gesture and with a foil (i.e., same size and shape as pointing gesture) at both SOAs. Older infants shifted their attention only in response to the pointing gesture at 100-ms SOA. Experiment 3 tested infants’ preferences for the social stimulus (i.e., pointing gesture) relative to the foil and a non-social stimulus (i.e., an arrow). The results revealed that infants are biased to selectively attend to the pointing gesture. Taken together, these results suggest that 4- and 6-month-old infants are capable of preferentially selecting and following a pointing gesture. It is theorized that this early capacity assists infants in their developing understanding of triadic forms of communication.
Bertenthal, Bennett I., Ty W. Boyer, Samuel Harding.
"When Do Infants Begin to Follow a Point?."
Developmental Psychology, 50 (8): 2036-2048.