Skip to main content

Interpersonal coordination in early interactions: Comparisons of infant-directed singing and speech

Interpersonal coordination in early interactions: Comparisons of infant-directed singing and speech

Presenter Name:Erica Flaten

School/Affiliation:McMaster University

Co-Authors:Erica Flaten, Natasha Wandel, Susan Marsh-Rollo, Dobromir Dotov, Laurel Trainor


Across cultures, mothers interact with their infants through infant-directed (ID) singing and ID speech. Further, lullabies and playsongs are sung differently, to differentially impact mother-infant arousal. Although some studies have investigated the coordination of behaviour and/or arousal during caregiver-infant interactions, the current study is the first to compare interpersonal coordination of movement and arousal during naturalistic ID singing and ID speech. We compare two forms of coordination: similarity (how correlated the signals are) and bidirectional information flow (how much each time series predicts the other). Given that the beat of music is typically more regular than for speech, we expect movements during music to be more synchronized, and therefore more similar. Given that speech contains more turn-taking, we expect greater information flow between mother and infant during speech. Data collection is ongoing, and here we focus on the movement measures. Mother-infant dyads (N = 4 dyads; 5 months) came to the LIVELab at McMaster University, where reflective markers were placed on each dyad member’s head, wrist and torso, and movements were recorded by motion capture cameras (Qualisys). After a baseline period, in 3 counterbalanced conditions mothers sang songs familiar to her infant (1) as a lullaby, (2) as a playsong, and (3) told the story of the song(s) they sung in infant-directed speech. Preliminary results suggest mothers move faster while infants move slower during playsongs, and that coordination of movement speed may differ for the 3 conditions. This project should significantly advance our understanding of ID singing in caregiver-infant interactions.

Poster PDFPoster PDF