Parent-infant synchrony: Biological foundations and developmental outcomes

Ruth Feldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

425 Scopus citations

Abstract

Synchrony - a construct used across multiple fields to denote the temporal relationship between events - has been applied to the study of mother-infant interaction and is suggested here as a framework for the study of interpersonal relationships. Defined as the temporal coordination of micro-level social behavior, parent-infant synchrony is charted in its development across infancy from the initial consolidation of biological rhythms during pregnancy to the emergence of symbolic exchange between parent and child. Synchrony is shown to depend on physiological mechanisms supporting bond formation in mammals - particularly physiological oscillators and neuroendocrine systems such as those involving the hormone oxytocin. Developmental outcomes of the synchrony experience are observed in the domains of self-regulation, symbol use, and the capacity for empathy across childhood and adolescence. Specific disruptions to the parameters of synchrony that may be observed in various pathological conditions, such as prematurity or maternal affective disorder, are detailed. A time-based, micro-analytic behavioral approach to the study of human relationship may offer new insights on intersubjectivity across the lifespan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340-345
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Volume16
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research is supported by the March of Dimes Foundation (#12-FY04-50), the U.S.–Israel Bi-National Science Foundation (2001/241 and 2005/273), and the NARSAD foundation.

Funding

Research is supported by the March of Dimes Foundation (#12-FY04-50), the U.S.–Israel Bi-National Science Foundation (2001/241 and 2005/273), and the NARSAD foundation.

FundersFunder number
NARSAD Foundation
U.S.–Israel Bi-National Science Foundation2001/241, 2005/273
March of Dimes Foundation12-FY04-50

    Keywords

    • Oxytocin
    • Parent-infant synchrony
    • Physiological oscillators
    • Symbolic development
    • Vagal tone

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