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
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.
Kee, Rachael Leanne, "Does cleft repair surgery restore normal visual and neural responses to infant faces?" (2023). Cal Poly Humboldt theses and projects. 638.