Biobehavioral synchrony, the coordination of physiological and behavioral signals between mother and infant during social contact, tunes the child’s brain to the social world. Probing this mechanism from a two-brain perspective, we examine the associations between patterns of mother–infant inter-brain synchrony and the two well-studied maternal behavioral orientations—sensitivity and intrusiveness—which have repeatedly been shown to predict positive and negative socio-emotional outcomes, respectively. Using dual-electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings, we measure inter-brain connectivity between 60 mothers and their 5- to 12-month-old infants during face-to-face interaction. Thirty inter-brain connections show significantly higher correlations during the real mother–infant face-to-face interaction compared to surrogate data. Brain–behavior correlations indicate that higher maternal sensitivity linked with greater mother–infant neural synchrony, whereas higher maternal intrusiveness is associated with lower inter-brain coordination. Post hoc analysis reveals that the mother-right-frontal–infant-left-temporal connection is particularly sensitive to the mother’s sensitive style, while the mother-left-frontal–infant-right-temporal connection indexes the intrusive style. Our results support the perspective that inter-brain synchrony is a mechanism by which mature brains externally regulate immature brains to social living and suggest that one pathway by which sensitivity and intrusiveness exert their long-term effect may relate to the provision of coordinated inputs to the social brain during its sensitive period of maturation.
|State||Published - Feb 2023|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The study was supported by the Simms/Mann Foundation Chair to R.F. and the Bezos Family Foundation.
© 2023 by the authors.
- inter-brain synchrony
- maternal sensitivity
- social brain
- social neuroscience