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

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

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Abstract

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, and long term, with respect to parent-reported patterns of everyday touching behaviors. 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 nonsocial 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
Additional Information: Research Funding: European Union's Horizon 2020 Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network. Grant Number: 721895
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 24 May 2022 15:01
Last Modified: 25 Jun 2022 00:24
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/85105
DOI: 10.1002/dev.22290

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