4 months old, week 1
At about four months, color vision matures as well as the other visual abilities such as depth perception and distance. With that, eye-hand coordination is developing more.
Gaze shifting between face and fingerspelling hand
Typically native signers fixate their gaze on the signer's face, not hands, during comprehension. They have larger perceptual span. However, when it comes to fingerspelling, generally they shift their gaze away from the face.
Similarly, Juli in the video clip shows her gaze shifting between my face and fingerspelling hand.
How much perceptual span do infants in a native signlan environemnt have? How swift can they shift their gaze between the face and one-handed fingerspelling? I hope to see some findings in future research studies.
Video clip (reconstructed): A few days ago, I taught her the ASL word pajamas and earlier today the colors including yellow.
Not only Juli shifted her gaze toward my hand when fingerspelling, she also looked at my hand when producing manual numeral.
During reading the book "Counting Kisses" by Karen Katz, Juli shifted her gaze toward my hand as I counted the numbers from one to four.
I found it to be one of Juli's favorite stories. Because, it's interactive. Not only Juli watched the numbers I spelled, she also enjoyed the kisses. Think about learning rewards.
The ASL words that I used with Juli this week are as follows: gardening, fruit+drink (smoothies), various fruits, play, yellow duck, pajamas, full (as in feeding), work, cereal ...
Fixating gaze on signer's production
Below is a summary of the findings of an eye-tracking study by Dr. Karen Emmorey and the team.
Typically, native signers as well as beginning signers fixated primarily on the signer's face most of the time. But, beginning signers fixated on or near the signer's mouth. Whereas, native signers tended to fixate on or near the eyes.
Beginning signers shifted gaze away from the signer's face more frequently than native signers.
The reason, as the researcher team explains, why the beginning signers fixated gaze on or near the signer's mouth is that it seems to help the beginning signers look at mouthing for clues.
Simiarly, there are studies on "babies read lips before they can speak" in which babies read people's lips when they learn to speak.
It would be interesting to study how eyeing-oriented infants gaze in a native signlan environment.
Karen Emmorey, et al. "Eye Gaze During Comprehension of American Sign Language by Native and Beginning Signers." http://vl2.gallaudet.edu/assets/section7/document114.pdf or http://jdsde.oxfordjournals.org/content/14/2/237.long
Teresa Farroni, et al. "Mechanism of Eye Gaze Perception during infancy." Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 16:8, pp. 1320-1326. http://www.cbcd.bbk.ac.uk/people/scientificstaff/mark/PDFs/Mechanisms_of_Eye_Gaze
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Tactile language play
An ASL parent does a language play of her own in ASL with her deaf baby Abbey who was 17 weeks old. It's called the "rainbow", in which she plays painting a different color on the baby's body, introducing each color.