A new study has found that when adults and babies look at each other, their brain waves sync up. This creates what researchers call “a joint networked state” that facilitates communication between the two of them.
The study, while small—just 17 babies in one experiment and 19 in the other—also found that babies vocalize, or try to communicate, more when this joint networked state is in effect. Researchers believe that the babies’ “neural synchronization” is kicked up a notch by an adult’s gaze. “Neural synchronization may provide a mechanism by which infants construct their own earliest social networks,” says the study.
It is already known that adults communicate more effectively when they are neurally synchronized. This is partly why face-to-face conversations are much less likely to be misunderstood than conversations over text, or even over the phone. It ‘s also known that when parents and babies interact, other aspects of their behavior can fall into sync, including their emotions and heart-rate. This study suggests that brain activity also synchronizes.