Effects of Early Separation, Interactive Deficits, and Experimental Manipulations on Infant-Mother Face-to-Face Interaction
Effects of early separation and experimental manipulations on infant-mother face-to-face interactions were investigated. Interactions were videotaped at 3½ months post expected date of delivery for 12 separated, premature, respiratory distress syndrome babies receiving low Brazelton interaction scores; 12 nonseparated, postterm postmature babies receiving low Brazelton scores; and 12 healthy, term babies. Dependent measures included the percentage of interaction time that the infant gazed at his mother and the percentage of infant gaze time that the mother was active. Experimental manipulations included the mother trying to keep her infant's attention and the mother imitating her infant's behaviors. The attention-getting manipulation resulted in more maternal activity and less infant gaze than in a spontaneous interaction, and the imitation manipulation in less maternal activity and more infant gaze. The facilitating effects of imitation were related to its lesser information processing demands and the greater attentiveness and contingent responsiveness of the mother. The absence of interaction differences between the postmature and premature suggested that separation contributed less to later interaction disturbances than did early deficits tapped by the Brazelton Neonatal Scale.