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Departmental Colloquium: Neural synchrony in caregiver-child interactions

Stefanie Höhl
Wednesday, February 17, 2021, 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm

Caregiver-child interactions are characterized by interpersonal rhythms at different timescales, from nursery rhymes and interactive games to daily routines (Markova et al., 2019). These rhythms make the social environment more predictable for young children and enable interpersonal biobehavioral synchrony with their caregivers. By using simultaneous measures of neural and physiological activities from caregiver and child during live interactions, e.g. dual-ECG and dual-fNIRS, we can deepen our understanding of early interactional dynamics and their rhythmicity. I will present our recent research identifying factors critical to the establishment of caregiver-child synchrony, such as affective touch in infants (Nguyen et al., in preparation) and mutual reciprocity and verbal turn-taking in preschool-aged children (Nguyen et al., 2020a, 2020b). I will further discuss some of the potential functions of interpersonal neural synchrony in early social-cognitive development, from social learning and communication to effective cooperation and interpersonal coordination.



Markova, G., Nguyen, T., & Hoehl, S. (2019). Neurobehavioral Interpersonal Synchrony in Early Development: The Role of Interactional Rhythms. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 2078.

Nguyen, T., Abney, D., Salamander, D., Bertenthal, B. I., & Hoehl, S. (in preparation). Proximity and Touch Boost Neural but not Physiological Synchrony in Naturalistic Mother-Infant Interactions: Evidence from Multi-level Hyperscanning.

Nguyen, T., Schleihauf, H., Kayhan, E., Matthes, D., Vrtička, P., & Hoehl, S. (2020a). The effects of interaction quality on neural synchrony during mother-child problem solving. Cortex, 124, 235–249.

Nguyen, T., Schleihauf, H., Kayhan, E., Matthes, D., Vrtička, P., & Hoehl, S. (2020b). Neural synchrony in mother–child conversation: Exploring the role of conversation patterns. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, nsaa079.