Environmental learning of social cues: evidence from enhanced gaze cueing in deaf children

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Francesco Pavani
  • Marta Venturini
  • Francesca Baruffaldi
  • Maria Cristina Caselli
  • Wieske van Zoest

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Centre de Recherche en Neuroscience Lyon (CRNL).
  • Center for Mind/Brain Sciences - CIMeC, University of Trento
  • Ente Nazionale Sordi


The susceptibility to gaze cueing in deaf children aged 7-14 years old (N = 16) was tested using a nonlinguistic task. Participants performed a peripheral shape-discrimination task, whereas uninformative central gaze cues validly or invalidly cued the location of the target. To assess the role of sign language experience and bilingualism in deaf participants, three groups of age-matched hearing children were recruited: bimodal bilinguals (vocal and sign-language, N = 19), unimodal bilinguals (two vocal languages, N = 17), and monolinguals (N = 14). Although all groups showed a gaze-cueing effect and were faster to respond to validly than invalidly cued targets, this effect was twice as large in deaf participants. This result shows that atypical sensory experience can tune the saliency of a fundamental social cue.

Bibliographic note

© 2019 Society for Research in Child Development.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1525-1534
Number of pages10
JournalChild Development
Issue number5
Early online date12 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019