DURHAM, North Carolina, September 15, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Eye-tracking technology can be used to reliably assess attentional patterns linked to socially withdrawn behaviors in preschoolers, according to a new study funded by the Environmental Influences on Child Health program National Institutes of Health Outcomes (ECHO).

Humans tend to pay more attention to emotional information, such as happy or angry facial expressions, than to neutral information. However, previous research indicates that socially withdrawn children are less likely to conform to this pattern. This study aims to expand existing research, which is primarily limited to white children in urban areas, to include children from diverse populations.

Eye-tracking is a technology that allows researchers to precisely determine where and how long a person is looking at a stimulus. The research team compared eye-tracking data from Indigenous children in the Navajo Birth Cohort Study (NBCS) with predominantly non-Hispanic white children in the Illinois Child Development Study (IKIDS ). Both groups paid more attention to emotional faces. Socially withdrawn Indigenous children were more likely than non-Hispanic white children to avoid emotional faces.

“Because eye-tracking technology does not rely on limited clinical observations or parental reports, it can be used as a more objective measure in a variety of settings and communities,” said ECHO program researcher Sara Nozadi, PhD. to University of New Mexico. Eye tracking technology can also be used in remote communities without requiring participants to travel to the clinic.

Dr. Nozadi and Andréa Aguiar, PhD, researcher of the ECHO program at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaigndrove this collaborative research Posted in Emotion.

Nozadi, S. et al. Cross-cultural applicability of eye tracking in the assessment of attention to emotional faces in preschool children. Emotion. DOI: 10.1037/emo0001124

About ECHO: ECHO is a national research program supported by the NIH. Launched in 2016, ECHO aims to improve the health of children for generations to come. ECHO researchers study the effects of a wide range of early environmental influences on child health and development. For more information, visit

About the NIH: NIH, the national agency for medical research, comprises 27 institutes and centers and is part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The NIH is the primary federal agency that conducts and supports basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and studies the causes, treatments, and cures for common and rare diseases. For more information, visit

SOURCE NIH Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program


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