The Temporal Coordination of Early Infant Communication

Marygrace E. Yale, Daniel S. Messinger, Alan B. Cobo-Lewis, Christine F. Delgado

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


The ability to coordinate expressive behaviors is crucial to the development of social and emotional communication. Coordination involves systematic sequencing of behaviors from two different modalities that have some temporal overlap. A bootstrapping procedure was used to determine whether preverbal 3- and 6-month-old infants sequence vocalizations, gazes at their mothers' faces, and facial expressions into pairs of coordinated patterns nonrandomly. Smiles and frowns were highly coordinated with vocalizations. Smiles were also coordinated with gazes at mothers' faces, which became stronger with age. Vocalizations were not coordinated with gazes at mothers' faces. These findings illustrate the manner in which infants temporally coordinate communicative actions and provide new evidence that facial expressions (particularly smiles) are central to early infant communications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)815-824
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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