When you play with your baby, your brain activity echoes your brain activity

When babies play with objects, their first attempts to pay attention to things are accompanied by high frequency activity bursts in your brain.

A new investigation, published in PLOS Biology The University of East London shows for the first time that if adults participate in joint games with their baby, their own brains show similar bursts of high frequency activity. Interestingly, these explosions of activity are linked to the patterns of care of their babies and not their own.

Neuronal empathy

The study authors simultaneously recorded electroencephalography (EEG) data of 12-month-old babies and their mothers when they played separately or with toys. By recording the activity in the brain of a baby and the brain of his mother at the same time, it was possible to see how the changes in his brain activity they reflected their own behavior or that of others while playing together.

Thus, the findings suggest that, when a baby pays attention to things, the adult's brain tracks and responds to their baby's behavior, as if the actions of their babies were reflected in brain activity. According to the lead author of the study, Leong:

Our project raises more questions than answers. We do not know, for example, if some parents respond more to their babies than others, and if so, why. And our study only looked at mothers, so we don't know if mothers and fathers can be different in the way they respond neurally to their babies. Our findings are exciting, but there is much more to investigate about how, exactly, this type of parental neuronal responsiveness can help young children learn.