Until infants can walk or crawl, the only way for them to explore their world on their terms is with their attention. Infants look at objects that interest them, they look in locations where they expect interesting things to happen, and they look longer at locations where surprising things occurred. These capacities for attention are important, but our understanding of how they are controlled in the brain is limited. In particular, it is unclear whether the neural architecture of infant attention resembles the adult attention system. In my work, I showed that infants can robustly deploy attention and that this attention recruits similar, but not identical, neural systems in adults. In particular, we found evidence that frontal cortex is critical for supporting the reallocation of attention, providing evidence against the dogma that the frontal cortex is not functional or behaviorally-relevant in infancy. Additionally, the non-overlap in recruited brain regions between infants and adults hints at the possibility that attention in infancy is supported by different component processes than adult attention.


Ellis, C. T., Skalaban, L. J., Yates, T. S., & Turk-Browne. N. B. (2021). Attention recruits frontal cortex in human infants. Proceedings of the National Academia of Sciences, 118 (12). e2021474118. Paper, Code, Data