Graduation Date

Spring 2023

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Psychology, option Academic Research

Committee Chair Name

Dr. Amanda Hahn

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Dr. Amber Gaffney

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Dr. Kelly Jantzen

Third Committee Member Affiliation

Community Member or Outside Professional


Cleft lip, Cleft palate, Craniofacial repair surgery, Facial processing, Infant, Infant faces, Cute, Cuteness rating, Eye tracking, Electroencephalography, EEG, ERP, P2, N170, LPP

Subject Categories



Infant faces readily capture our attention and elicit enhanced neural processing, likely due to their evolutionary importance in facilitating bonds with caregivers. Infant facial malformations are associated with a lower degree of parental investment and have been shown to negatively impact early infant-caregiver interactions. Cleft lip or cleft palate is a common facial malformation, estimated to affect 1 in 700 live births worldwide, that is associated with altered visual and neural processing as compared to normal infant faces. Importantly, it is not yet known how craniofacial repair surgery impacts responses to these faces. The current study uses eye tracking and electroencephalography (EEG) to investigate alterations in how adults process infant faces with cleft lip/palate following surgical repair. Results indicated that infants were rated as much cuter after craniofacial repair. Additionally, infant faces before surgery drew attention quicker and held attention longer at the mouth, at the expense of the eyes, as compared to infants who underwent repair surgery, suggesting more normal visual processing for these faces after craniofacial repair. Findings also revealed supporting evidence of the restorative function of repair surgery for both the P2 and N170 components, but not the LPP, indicating that craniofacial repair surgery may restore more normative perceptual processing of infant faces, but not affective processing. As these differences may contribute to a number of important developmental aspects (e.g., joint attention) and may play a key role in the previously observed difficulties in caregiver-infant interactions, this study provides an important first step in determining the effectiveness of surgical interventions on the underlying neural mechanisms of infant face processing.

Citation Style




To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.