Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Infant Responses to Tactile Input
Psychological Science has published research on 9 month old infants reaction to tactile input. The parents sat the infant on their lap while the experimenter stroked the back of the infant's arm with a paintbrush. The experimenter varied the rate of the brushstrokes among three defined velocities: slow, medium and fast (0.3, 3, or 30 cm per second). The experimenters determined the infants' responses of attentional engagement and arousal through physiological and behavioral measures.
The following results were recorded:
1. the infants' heart rate slowed in response to the brushstrokes but only when the strokes were of medium velocity therefore the touch of the medium-velocity brush helped to decrease their physiological arousal.
2. The infants showed more engagement with the paintbrush during the medium-velocity brushstrokes, as measured by how long and how often they looked at the brush while they were being stroked.
3. infants' slower heart rate during medium-velocity brushstrokes was uniquely correlated with the primary caregivers' own self-reported sensitivity to touch. In other words, the more sensitive the caregiver was to touch, the more the infant's heart rate slowed in response to medium-velocity touch.
The researchers concluded that sensitivity to pleasant touch begins early in development and playing an important role in regulating human social interactions.
Reference: M. T. Fairhurst, L. Loken, T. Grossmann. Physiological and Behavioral Responses Reveal 9-Month-Old Infants' Sensitivity to Pleasant Touch. Psychological Science, 2014; DOI: 10.1177/0956797614527114
Mini Sensory Books
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