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    Oxytocin but not naturally occurring variation in caregiver touch associates with infant social orienting

    Brzozowska, Alicja and Longo, Matthew and Mareschal, Denis and Wiesemann, F. and Gliga, Teodora (2022) Oxytocin but not naturally occurring variation in caregiver touch associates with infant social orienting. Developmental Psychobiology 64 (6), e22290. ISSN 0012-1630.

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    Caregiver touch is crucial for infants’ healthy development, but its role in shaping infant cognition has been relatively understudied. In particular, despite strong premises to hypothesize its function in directing infant attention to social information, little empirical evidence exists on the topic. In this study, we investigated the associations between naturally occurring variation in caregiver touch and infant social attention in a group of 6- to 13-month old infants (n = 71). Additionally, we measured infant salivary oxytocin as a possible mediator of the effects of touch on infant social attention. The hypothesized effects were investigated both short-term, with respect to touch observed during parent-infant interactions in the lab, as well as long-term, with respect to parentreported patterns of everyday touching behaviours. We did not find evidence that caregiver touch predicts infant social attention or salivary oxytocin levels, short-term or long-term. However, we found that salivary oxytocin predicted infant preferential attention to faces relative to non-social objects, measured in an eye tracking task. Our findings confirm the involvement of oxytocin in social orienting in infancy, but raise questions regarding the possible environmental factors influencing the infant oxytocin system.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): oxytocin, touch, infant, social orienting, parental care
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Brain and Cognitive Development, Centre for (CBCD)
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2022 15:03
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:16


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