Infants' looking preferences for social versus non-social objects reflect genetic variation.

Portugal AM, Viktorsson C, Taylor MJ, Mason L, Tammimies K, Ronald A, Falck-Ytter T

Nat Hum Behav - (-) - [2023-11-27; online 2023-11-27]

To what extent do individual differences in infants' early preference for faces versus non-facial objects reflect genetic and environmental factors? Here in a sample of 536 5-month-old same-sex twins, we assessed attention to faces using eye tracking in two ways: initial orienting to faces at the start of the trial (thought to reflect subcortical processing) and sustained face preference throughout the trial (thought to reflect emerging attention control). Twin model fitting suggested an influence of genetic and unique environmental effects, but there was no evidence for an effect of shared environment. The heritability of face orienting and preference were 0.19 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.04 to 0.33) and 0.46 (95% CI 0.33 to 0.57), respectively. Face preference was associated positively with later parent-reported verbal competence (β = 0.14, 95% CI 0.03 to 0.25, P = 0.014, R2 = 0.018, N = 420). This study suggests that individual differences in young infants' selection of perceptual input-social versus non-social-are heritable, providing a developmental perspective on gene-environment interplay occurring at the level of eye movements.

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National Genomics Infrastructure [Service]

PubMed 38012276

DOI 10.1038/s41562-023-01764-w

Crossref 10.1038/s41562-023-01764-w

pii: 10.1038/s41562-023-01764-w

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