Latest Scientific Research

Babies communicate with gesture

The ability to share and direct attention is a pre-requisite to later language development.  This ability has mainly been studied through infant pointing. Precursors to pointing, such as showing and giving gestures, may display similar communication skills, yet these gestures are often overlooked.  Researchers Laura Boundy, Thea Cameron-Faulknew and Anna Theakston suggest that this be due to difficulty in discerning these gestures in interaction.  Fine-grained coding of show and give gestures, their micro-behaviours and caregiver responses was conducted through secondary analysis of naturalistic, triadic interactions between 24 infants, caregivers and a selection of toys. Findings suggest that the micro-behaviours arm position, hand orientation and eye-gaze, were significant predictors of infant gesture type, however only arm positioning was a significant predictor of caregiver response. This suggests that early showing and giving gestures can be classified based on some associated micro-behaviours, however caregiver’s responses may not be contingent on these same cues, potentially resulting in difficulty understanding infant gestures. These new results enhance our understanding of infant communication before 12 months, provide guidance to both researchers and caregivers in the identification of infants’ early shows and gives, and highlight the need for greater study of these early pre-linguistic behaviours.  (