The Zoom where it happens: Live virtual music performances captures infants’ attention more than recorded performances
School/Affiliation:University of Toronto
Co-Authors:Catherine Tan, Haley Kragness
Virtual or In-person:In-person
A recent study reported that live, in-person musical performances elicit more engagement from infant audiences than recorded performances. We hypothesize that attention was boosted primarily by the performers’ sensitivity to the infant audience’s responses. If so, then live virtual musical performances should similarly engage infant attention. Here, we investigated 12- to 15-month-old infants' responses to a musical show presented either synchronously (performed in real time) or asynchronously (recording played back from another infants' session) over Zoom. We further investigated whether delivery method affected social preferences and memory. During time 1, infants watched a 3-min musical performance (synchronous or asynchronous), followed by a social endorsement task during which the musician exclaimed like or dislike for various toys. During time 2 (~7 days later) their memory for the music from time 1 was tested in a preferential listening paradigm. Synchronous performances encouraged more overall attention and sustained attention for longer bouts than asynchronous performances. During the memory test, asynchronous participants listened longer to the novel than the familiar song, while synchronous participants listened equally long to both. Analyses of the social endorsement task are underway to explore whether delivery method affected infants’ social preferences and whether sustained interest in the familiar song is related to social preference for the performer. Results highlight the important role of performer-audience communication in musical performances, even those for infant audiences, and point to live, virtual music as potentially fruitful programming for geographically isolated or disadvantaged families.