The Infant Orienting With Attention Task: Assessing the Neural Basis of Spatial Attention in Infancy

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Infant visual attention develops rapidly over the first year of life, significantly altering the way infants respond to peripheral visual events. Here we present data from 5-, 7- and 10-month-old infants using the Infant Orienting With Attention (IOWA) task, designed to capture developmental changes in visual spatial attention and saccade planning. Results indicate rapid development of spatial attention and visual response competition between 5 and 10 months. We use a dynamic neural field (DNF) model to link behavioral findings to neural population activity, providing a possible mechanistic explanation for observed developmental changes. Together, the behavioral and model simulation results provide new insights into the specific mechanisms that underlie spatial cueing effects, visual competition, and visual interference in infancy.