The relationship between patterns of influenceability in early mother-infant interaction and later infant cognitive status
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This study investigated whether early patterns of mother-infant interaction are continuous from 2 to 4 months, and whether they predict later infant cognitive functioning.;Fourteen healthy mother-infant pairs (5 girls and 9 boys) were studied. Data were collected in the home when the infants were approximately 2, 4, and 12 months of age. At the 2- and 4-month visits, gaze and affective behaviors were recorded during mother-infant face-to-face, free play and gaze alone was recorded during similar stranger-infant play, using methods of on-line coding. At the 12-month visit, the following cognitive measures were administered: Mental Developmental Index of the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, level of object permanence, duration of focused attention to inanimate objects, and size of speaking vocabulary reported by mother.;Time series regression analyses were used to estimate the degree to which each member of the dyad was influenced by his/her partner in gaze and affective engagement. Pearson product-moment correlations were used to evaluate relationships of within-age and between-age gaze variables and influenceability scores in gaze and affective engagement from 2 to 4 months. Nonparametric statistical tests and multiple regression analyses were used to evaluate the relationship between the early patterns of gaze and affective interpersonal influence, and later cognitive functioning.;The results demonstrate that (1) patterns of infant gaze change from 2 to 4 months, (2) there is a high degree of self-influence in gaze for both partners at 2 and 4 months, (3) mothers show significantly more self-influence in affective engagement at 2 than at 4 months, (4) infants show significantly more self-influence than mothers in gaze at both ages and in affective engagement at 4 months, and (5) there are continuities in some patterns of mother and infant influenceability in affective engagement from 2 to 4 months. The hypotheses that predict later cognitive functioning from early gaze and influenceability were generally not supported. Further studies need to be conducted in order to determine whether these negative results were due to aspects of the methodology of the study or whether early patterns of gaze and affective interpersonal influence are not reliable predictors of later cognitive performance.