• Livio Provenzi

Call for Papers - The role of senses in emotional and cognitive development of infants and children

I am happy to share the present call for papers for a Research Topic cross-hosted by Frontiers in Psychology, Frontiers in Public Health and Frontiers in Pediatrics. The Research Topic is co-edited by Sabrina Signorini (IRCCS Mondino Foundation, Pavia, Italy), Monica Gori (Italian Institute of Technology, Genova, Italy), Laura Maffongelli (Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany) and me.

The development of socio-emotional and socio-cognitive abilities in childhood are critical milestones of human development. Research to date highlights that both socio-emotional and socio-cognitive skills start to emerge early during infancy and specific precursors of affect regulation and theory of mind can be traced back to the first months of life. Relevant to this development is the quality of caregiving and especially the possibility to experience sensitive, contingent, and positive parental behaviors. Indeed, it is within the relational framework of parent-infant interactions that the child can mature the capacity to cope with emotional stress, share intentional communications, developmental representations of herself and the other, understand the other’s intentions, and so on. In other words, the early social context of parenting appears to be essential for adequate socio-emotional and socio-cognitive development in humans.



Nonetheless, the early parent-infant relational engagement largely depends on the possibility to share by the interactive partners' perceptual and sensorial inputs and outputs. From this early interaction, a sense of togetherness is obtained, and mutual regulation processes arise. So, what happens when the infant presents sensory impairments? For example, how alterations in visual, somatosensory and hearing functioning can affect the early foundation of socio-emotional and socio-cognitive development in humans?


The present Research Topic aims to collect evidence from researchers who are engaged in studying socio-emotional and socio-cognitive development in infants and children with sensory impairment. Moreover, we accept studies conducted on healthy subjects if sensory processes (e.g., social touch and maternal voice) are specifically investigated within the context of infants’ socio-emotional and socio-cognitive development. By increasing our understanding of these dynamics, we aim at improving the quality of care for these infants and families as well as at promoting scientific knowledge on key developmental pathways for human beings. Indeed, on the one hand, these findings can provide relevant insights for evidence-based rehabilitation programs, for improving the social skills of children with sensory impairments and for effectively supporting parents. On the other hand, getting a more in-depth knowledge of socio-emotional and socio-cognitive developmental in infants with sensory impairment can shed new light on the precursors and mechanisms that are involved even in typical development.


We welcome original research papers reporting on:

• Socio-emotional and socio-cognitive development (e.g., interactive behavior, emotional regulation, social cognition, stress response, and parent-infant relationship) in infants and children with sensory impairment.

• The role of social sensory processes (e.g., social touch, maternal voice) in healthy subjects.

• Animal model studies are also welcome if they provide evidence of mechanisms potentially involved in socio-emotional and socio-cognitive development in the presence of sensory impairment.


Contributions from intersecting disciplines as well as from an integrated team of researchers and clinicians will be especially valued. Finally, different types of manuscripts (i.e., mini-review, original research, protocols, perspective, review) will be considered, provided that they are consistent with the aims of the research topic.