Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department or School


Committee Member

Renee Lajiness-O’Neill, PhD, Chair

Committee Member

Jin Bo, PhD

Committee Member

Catherine Peterson, PhD


The aim of this study was to replicate and extend a study by Grossmann and colleagues (2008), examining infant neural responses to gaze in 5-month-olds, to older and high-risk infants. Participants were 9-month-old infants (5 preterm, [3 female]; 12 full term [7 female]) who underwent fNIRS while viewing gaze paradigms. Findings revealed that hemisphere predicted peak oxygenated hemoglobin (HbO2) across groups and conditions, with higher activation in the left hemisphere across groups. Interaction of group by condition predicted peak HbO2 value, with an increase in activation in the high-risk group during the averted condition. Participants as random effects accounted for a significant amount of the variance, highlighting the importance of individual variability in infant studies. Lower activation in left frontal regions was related to higher expressive language while lower activation in right frontal and temporal regions was related to higher receptive language. Overall, higher activation was related to reduced language performance, negative affect, and behavior problems at 12 months.