Tune to touch: Affective touch enhances learning of face identity in 4-month-old infants

Della Longa, Letizia, Gliga, Teodora and Farroni, Teresa (2019) Tune to touch: Affective touch enhances learning of face identity in 4-month-old infants. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 35. pp. 42-46. ISSN 1878-9293

[thumbnail of DellaLonga_etal_DevelopmentalCognitiveNeuroscience]
PDF (DellaLonga_etal_DevelopmentalCognitiveNeuroscience)
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (390kB) | Preview


Touch provides more than sensory input for discrimination of what is on the skin. From early in development it has a rewarding and motivational value, which may reflect an evolutionary mechanism that promotes learning and affiliative bonding. In the present study we investigated whether affective touch helps infants tune to social signals, such as faces. Four-month-old infants were habituated to an individual face with averted gaze, which typically does not engage infants to the same extent as direct gaze does. As in a previous study, in the absence of touch, infants did not learn the identity of this face. Critically, 4-month-old infants did learn to discriminate this face when parents provided gentle stroking, but they did not when they experienced a non-social tactile stimulation. A preliminary follow-up eye-tracking study (Supplementary material) revealed no significant difference in the visual scanning of faces between touch and no-touch conditions, suggesting that affective touch may not affect the distribution of visual attention, but that it may promote more efficient learning of facial information.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright © 2017. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2018 15:33
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2022 20:31
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/68453
DOI: 10.1016/j.dcn.2017.11.002


Downloads per month over past year

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item