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Percept Mot Skills. 2018 Oct;125(5):839-865. doi: 10.1177/0031512518786131. Epub 2018 Jul 17.

Disappearance of Biased Visual Attention in Infants: Remediated Tonic Neck Reflex or Maturating Visual Asymmetry?

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1 Department of Psychology, London Metropolitan University, UK.


Typically, infants younger than four months fail to attend to the left side of their spatial field, most likely due to an innate asymmetrical tonic neck reflex (ATNR). In a critical transition, by four months of age, infants begin to reach and develop depth perception; and, by five months, they tend to monitor the entire spatial field. However, this developmental transition can be delayed. Moreover, there is always a residual right-sided spatial bias under cognitive load, a phenomenon that may also occur among adult stroke patients. While causative factors of biased visual attention in both infants and brain-injured adults may vary, mechanisms of remediation may be similar. This literature review addresses whether the infant's emergence of attention toward a full visual spatial field and the associated shift from monocular to binocular vision occurs because of (a) increased left side reaching, loosening the rarely mentioned high muscle tension ATNR or (b) maturational resolution of visual asymmetry in motion perception. More research is needed to investigate the origins of the infants' visual control system and factors involved in its development, especially because Alzheimer and dementia patients may also show primitive two-dimensional vision and deficits in perceiving objects-in-motion that seem to mirror infant visual perception.


depth perception development; dynamic systems theory; infant reaching; visual asymmetry; visual neglect

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