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This study investigated whether an odor can affect infants’ attention to visually presented objects and whether it can selectively direct visual gaze at visual targets as a function of their meaning. Four-month-old infants (n = 48) were exposed to their mother’s body odors while their visual exploration was recorded with an eye-movement tracking system. Two groups of infants, who were assigned to either an odor condition or a control condition, looked at a scene composed of still pictures of faces and cars. As expected, infants looked longer at the faces than at the cars but this spontaneous preference for faces was significantly enhanced in presence of the odor. As expected also, when looking at the face, the infants looked longer at the eyes than at any other facial regions, but, again, they looked at the eyes significantly longer in the presence of the odor. Thus, 4-month-old infants are sensitive to the contextual effects of odors while looking at faces. This suggests that early social attention to faces is mediated by visual as well as non-visual cues.



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