Why some toddlers stare at faces rather than objects

In a new study, scientists have pointed to the fact that an infant's preference for a person's face, rather than an object, was associated with lower levels of callous and unemotional behaviors in toddlerhood.

ANI| Updated: Oct 24, 2014, 18:33 PM IST

London: In a new study, scientists have pointed to the fact that an infant's preference for a person's face, rather than an object, was associated with lower levels of callous and unemotional behaviors in toddlerhood.

The study at King's College London, the University of Manchester, and the University of Liverpool had assessed if 213 five-week-old infants, whether they spent longer tracking a person's face compared to an inanimate object - in this case a red ball.

The researchers had shown that greater tracking of the face relative to the ball was linked to lower callous unemotional behaviors measured using questionnaires when children were two and a half years old.

The study had also showed that if a mother responded more sensitively to their baby during playtime, then the child was less likely to display callous unemotional behavior as a toddler.

Dr Rachael Bedford, a Sir Henry Welcome Postdoctoral Fellow at the Biostatistics Department, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London, has added that callous and unemotional behaviors in children were known to be associated with later criminality and antisocial behavior. This study had taken researchers a step further in understanding the earliest origins of callous and unemotional behaviors.

The study was published in Biological Psychiatry.