University of Nottingham: Mums and babies needed for study looking at how they ‘fall into sync’ with each other

Volunteers are needed for a new study to investigate how babies respond to, learn to interact with, and eventually ‘fall into sync’ with their mothers.

Project NeuroSync is a new research project in the Infant and Toddler Lab in the School of Psychology at the University of Nottingham and will use experimental games, brain scanning equipment, head-mounted cameras and questionnaires to understand how babies ‘fall into sync’ with their mothers.

Dr Sobana Wijeakumar, the research lead of the study said: “The first three years of life are critical – children start to develop important cognitive functions and learn how to communicate with the world around them. These functions first start to develop through interactions children have with their parents. We are interested in how these interactions form and develop in the brain. Specifically, we want to understand how mothers’ brains synchronizes with their babies’ brains when they interact with each other over the first few years of life and how this synchrony influences their baby’s cognitive functions in later life.”

The research visits will involve a range of non-invasive techniques to build a comprehensive picture of how interactions between mum and baby develop over three years and involve between 2-4 visits to the lab each year. During each visit, researchers will take video recordings of interactions and use sensor caps to measure brain activity of mums and babies in a safe manner. While wearing these caps, babies and mums will be shown objects on a TV – for instance, coloured shapes, and researchers will monitor how and where mum and baby examine the TV. The team will also measure brain activity while mum and baby play together. To understand the mum’s perspectives of their baby’s cognitive development, they will also be asked to fill in questionnaires based on their own observations.

Babies need to be between 6 and 9 months of age or will turn 6 or 9 months of age at the time of being involved in the study toparticipate and families taking part will be paid £10 per visit as a ‘thank you’.

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