Prof. Anne Warlaumont, CIS faculty, has leveraged her computational prowess in analyzing the social dynamics present in over 10,000 hours of recordings between infants and their caregivers. Her analyses reveal a “social feedback loop”: subtle but possibly very important patterns of back and forth exchanges between infants and adults. In fact, she shows this social feedback loop may be diminished in strength for children with autism. From the university story:

“This loop likely has cascading impacts over the course of a child’s development,” cognitive science Professor Anne S. Warlaumont said. “Understanding how it works and being able to monitor its components while the children go about their daily lives may eventually lead to better strategies for helping parents and other adults interact most effectively with autistic children.”

Recent technological advances enable people to record all the sounds children make and hear during the course of the day and to automatically label that data, Warlaumont said. With these tools, researchers such as Warlaumont can detect subtle moment-to-moment effects that child and caregiver have on each other.

“These local effects appear to add up over the millions of exchanges children experience over the first few years of life, resulting in substantial differences in the types of sounds kids produce,” she said.

The work will be published in the prestigious journal Psychological Science. Click here to see reports in the Merced Sunstar, and Psychological Science’s press release.

Prof. Anne Warlaumont presenting some of her findings in a recent research presentation.