Neural synchrony in mother-child conversation

Conversations are an essential form of communication in daily family life. Specific patterns of caregiver-child conversations have been linked to children‟s socio-cognitive development and child relationship quality beyond the immediate family environment. Recently, interpersonal neural synchronization has been proposed as a neural mechanism supporting conversation. Here, we present a functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) hyperscanning study looking at the temporal dynamics of neural synchrony during mother-child conversation. Preschoolers (20 boys and 20 girls; M age 5;07 years) and their mothers (M age 36.37 years) were tested simultaneously with fNIRS hyperscanning while engaging in a free verbal conversation lasting for four minutes. Neural synchrony (using wavelet transform coherence analysis) was assessed over time. Furthermore, each conversational turn was coded for conversation patterns comprising turn-taking, relevance, contingency, and intrusiveness. Results from linear mixed-effects modeling revealed that turntaking, but not relevance, contingency, or intrusiveness predicted neural synchronization during the conversation over time. Results are discussed to point out possible variables affecting parent-child conversation quality and the potential functional role of interpersonal neural synchronization for parent-child conversation.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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