Parent-infant synchrony and the construction of shared timing: Physiological precursors, developmental outcomes, and risk conditions. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 48, 329-354

Department of Psychology, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel.
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 6.46). 03/2007; 48(3-4):329-54. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2006.01701.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Synchrony, a construct used across multiple fields to denote the temporal relationship between events, is applied to the study of parent-infant interactions and suggested as a model for intersubjectivity. Three types of timed relationships between the parent and child's affective behavior are assessed: concurrent, sequential, and organized in an ongoing patterned format, and the development of each is charted across the first year. Viewed as a formative experience for the maturation of the social brain, synchrony impacts the development of self-regulation, symbol use, and empathy across childhood and adolescence. Different patterns of synchrony with mother, father, and the family and across cultures describe relationship-specific modes of coordination. The capacity to engage in temporally-matched interactions is based on physiological mechanisms, in particular oscillator systems, such as the biological clock and cardiac pacemaker, and attachment-related hormones, such as oxytocin. Specific patterns of synchrony are described in a range of child-, parent- and context-related risk conditions, pointing to its ecological relevance and usefulness for the study of developmental psychopathology. A perspective that underscores the organization of discrete relational behaviors into emergent patterns and considers time a central parameter of emotion and communication systems may be useful to the study of interpersonal intimacy and its potential for personal transformation across the lifespan.

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    • "Given the apparent plasticity of the maternal brain in adaptive mental health and psychopathological maladaptation, brain changes are likely occurring when parenting interventions are applied. The importance of such interventions is underlined by a growing body of research demonstrating that infants of mothers with mental health problems are at increased risk for developmental delays, cognitive and functional impairments, physical symptoms and injuries, as well as behavioral and emotional problems in the affected pre-school and school age children (Bagner et al., 2010; Bureau et al., 2009; Cornish et al., 2005; Feldman et al., 2009; Grace et al., 2003; Halligan et al., 2007; Hay et al., 2008; Sohr-Preston and Scaramella, 2006). Currently, mental health interventions are thus being implemented for realworld primary care treatment settings where mothers seek treatment for difficulties with parenting due to attachment, mood and anxiety disorders, and promotion of attachment security in the child. "
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    • "The interactions between infant and caregiver—mutual gazing, vocalizations , affectionate touch, and high levels of co-constructed positive arousal (Feldman, 2007)—are the very dance of attachment. The bonding process is a mutual and synchronous intention on the part of both the infant and the caregiver, the failure of which carries the risks associated with insecure attachment, including " difficulties in their social, emotional, and self-regulatory growth " (Feldman, 2007, p. 333). Trevarthen (2004) writes that adaptive life begins in " companionship " among parents, grandparents, brothers, or sisters who share a pleasure in joint " acting, knowing, and doing. "
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