Who doesn’t love gazing into their baby’s eyes? And now, thanks to science, we know there’s even more going on than just a tender bonding moment. In fact, when your baby makes eye contact with you, their brainwaves actually synchronise with your own to help them learn and communicate more easily.
Is your baby telepathic?
Researchers have known for some time that when babies interact with their parents, their emotions and heart rate synchronise, but up until now no studies had been done to see if there is a mental link as well.
Scientists at the University of Cambridge examined the brain patterns of 36 babies and their mothers using electroencephalography (EEG) – which measures electrical activity via electrodes in a skull cap. While the mothers sang nursery rhymes to their children, researchers discovered that when the adults gazed at their child the brainwaves of both synchronised. The infants became more responsive and made more efforts to communicate vocally.
The parent bond
According to Dr. Victoria Leong, lead author on the study, “When the adult and infant are looking at each other, they are signalling their availability and intention to communicate with each other,” she said.
“We found that both adult and infant brains respond to a gaze signal by becoming more in sync with their partner. This mechanism could prepare parents and babies to communicate, by synchronising when to speak and when to listen, which would also make learning more effective.”
Previous studies have found brain synchronisation patterns exist between students who, when interested in the same subject, also learned better in class. So, it’s no wonder the same applies when a child interacts with their mother or father.
The science behind the connection is still a mystery
Although the findings are consistent with previous studies of brainwaves, the scientists aren’t exactly sure what causes this fascinating brain synchronisation between parents and their children.
“We don’t know what it is, yet, that causes this synchronous brain activity. We’re certainly not claiming to have discovered telepathy!” said Dr Sam Wass, last author on the study.
“Our findings suggested eye gaze and vocalisations may both, somehow, play a role. But the brain synchrony we were observing was at such high time-scales – of three to nine oscillations per second – that we still need to figure out how exactly eye gaze and vocalisations create it.”
Get your gaze on
Well, regardless of how it happens, we think it’s pretty amazing! And given the developmental benefits, there’s never been a better excuse to while away the hours staring into your bub’s eyes!
Do you feel you’re in sync mentally or physically with your baby?