In sync with your child: The potential of parent–child electroencephalography in developmental research

Elise Turk, Jean Vroomen, Yvonne Fonken, Jonathan Levy, Marion I. van den Heuvel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Healthy interaction between parent and child is foundational for the child's socioemotional development. Recently, an innovative paradigm shift in electroencephalography (EEG) research has enabled the simultaneous measurement of neural activity in caregiver and child. This dual-EEG or hyperscanning approach, termed parent–child dual-EEG, combines the strength of both behavioral observations and EEG methods. In this review, we aim to inform on the potential of dual-EEG in parents and children (0–6 years) for developmental researchers. We first provide a general overview of the dual-EEG technique and continue by reviewing the first empirical work on the emerging field of parent–child dual-EEG, discussing the limited but fascinating findings on parent–child brain-to-behavior and brain-to-brain synchrony. We then continue by providing an overview of dual-EEG analysis techniques, including the technical challenges and solutions one may encounter. We finish by discussing the potential of parent–child dual-EEG for the future of developmental research. The analysis of multiple EEG data is technical and challenging, but when performed well, parent–child EEG may transform the way we understand how caregiver and child connect on a neurobiological level. Importantly, studying objective physiological measures of parent–child interactions could lead to the identification of novel brain-to-brain synchrony markers of interaction quality.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere22221
JournalDevelopmental Psychobiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Wiley Periodicals LLC


This work was financially supported by the Dutch Scientific Council (NWO; VI.Veni.191G.025; PI: van den Heuvel) and the Sara van Dam z.l. Foundation, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (PIs: van den Heuvel, Levy).

FundersFunder number
Dutch Scientific Council
Sara van Dam z.l. Foundation
Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek


    • EEG
    • brain development
    • hyperscanning
    • neural synchrony
    • parent–child interaction


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