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Infant Behav Dev. 2011 Dec;34(4):569-77. doi: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2011.06.008. Epub 2011 Jul 20.

Mother and infant coordinate heart rhythms through episodes of interaction synchrony.

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Department of Psychology, Bar-Ilan University, Israel.


Animal studies demonstrated the powerful impact of maternal-infant social contact on the infant's physiological systems, yet the online effects of social interactions on the human infant's physiology remain poorly understood. Mothers and their 3-month old infants were observed during face-to-face interactions while cardiac output was collected from mother and child. Micro-analysis of the partners' behavior marked episodes of gaze, affect, and vocal synchrony. Time-series analysis showed that mother and infant coordinate heart rhythms within lags of less than 1 s. Bootstrapping analysis indicated that the concordance between maternal and infant biological rhythms increased significantly during episodes of affect and vocal synchrony compared to non-synchronous moments. Humans, like other mammals, can impact the physiological processes of the attachment partner through the coordination of visuo-affective social signals.

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