Neural synchrony in mother-child conversation: Exploring the role of conversation patterns

Trinh Nguyen, Hanna Schleihauf, Ezgi Kayhan, Daniel Matthes, Pascal Vrticka, Stefanie Hoehl

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 turn-taking, 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.

Department of Developmental and Educational Psychology
External organisation(s)
Universität Potsdam, Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften, University of Essex, University of California, Berkeley, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Leibniz Inst Primate Res, Deutsches Primatenzentrum (DPZ), German Primate Ctr, Endocrinol Lab
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
501005 Developmental psychology, 501014 Neuropsychology
Portal url