Dynamics of Non-Verbal Vocalizations and Hormones during Father-Infant Interaction

Omri Weisman, Mohamed Chetouani, Catherine Saint-Georges, Nadège Bourvis, Emilie Delaherche, Orna Zagoory-Sharon, David Cohen, Ruth Feldman

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21 Scopus citations


Although researchers have established the roles of oxytocin (OT) in promoting affiliative bonds and cortisol (CT) in adapting to stress, the investigation of their interplay with non-verbal behaviors has only recently begun. In this study, we employed social signal-processing techniques to investigate relationships between non-verbal features: infant and father vocalizations, infant-directed speech, speech turn-taking (STT) and hormonal dynamics (OT and CT). Thirty-five fathers were asked to interact with their infants following the fathers self-administration of OT or placebo. We consider the three episodes of the Still Face (SF) paradigm: (1) a baseline normal interaction episode, (2) the SF episode, in which the father becomes unresponsive and maintains a neutral facial expression, and (3) a reunion in which parents and their infants re-engage in interaction. This paradigm elicited stress in the infant. Statistical relationships are assessed by correlation analysis and linear mixed models (LMMs). The results indicate that (i) infant vocalization and STT are key social cues regulating interactions during the stress-inducing and reunion episodes, with infant vocalization leading the interaction dynamics; (ii) father empty pause was the main adaptive behavior of fathers after SF; (iii) OT did not modulate infant STT or father STT/fatherese; (iv) CT appeared to modulate the interaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-345
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Affective Computing
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 IEEE.


The study was supported by the German-Israeli Foundation grant (no. 1114-101.4/2010) to R.F., by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR-12-SAMA-006) to D.C., and the Groupement de Recherche en Psychiatrie (GDR-3557) to D.C. This work was partially performed within the Labex SMART (ANR-11-LABX-65) supported by French state funds managed by the ANR within the Investissements d'Avenir programme under reference ANR-11-IDEX-0004-02. Sponsors had no involvement in study design, data analysis or interpretation of results. The research was approved by the Institutional Review Board at Bar-Ilan University, was conducted according to ethical standards, and all participating fathers signed an informed consent.

FundersFunder number
Groupement de Recherche en PsychiatrieGDR-3557
Agence Nationale de la RechercheANR-12-SAMA-006
German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development1114-101.4/2010


    • Social signal processing
    • hormonal modulation
    • inter-personal synchrony
    • parent-Infant interaction


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