Attachment & Bio-Behavioral Synchrony in Dyads


Attachment is a social process from the very beginning. Therefore, besides looking at the neural basis of attachment in single person experiments, I am now also employing so called hyperscanning techniques where behavioral performance and particularly brain activity are assessed in two people simultaneously. This allows for measuring bio-behavioral synchrony between individuals as a proxy for their social connection / relationship quality. The social neuroscience technique for this line of research is functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS).

Adult-Adult Bio-Behavioral Synchrony

In a first part of this project, we are currently looking at bio-behavioral synchrony between (young) adult participants while they perform different collaborative, competitive, and independent versions of a reaction time task developed at Stanford University (for a previous publication using the same task, see here). Attachment in both players was assessed with the self-report questionnaire Experiences in Close Relationships revised (ECR-R).

In a second part of this project, we looked at the same task in 8-12 year old children and their mothers (collaboration with Stanford University) – the corresponding paper was published in Neuropsychologia – see here and my publications page. The background and results of this paper can also be further explored in one of my blog posts and coverage by Science Trends. Attachment in children towards their mothers was measured using a child version of the self-report questionnaire Experiences in Close Relationships revised (ECR-RC).

Bio-Behavioral Synchrony in Parent-Child Dyads

I am furthermore co-supervising a Master thesis and a subsequent PhD thesis project on bio-behavioral synchrony between 5-year old children and their mothers during a collaborative puzzle-solving task, here as a function of mother’s attachment orientation measured by a self-report questionnaire (ECR-R), parent-child attachment rated from interaction videos, and child temperament (CARE study). Some preliminary results (subject to change) have already been presented as conference posters, of which some can be found here. A paper with the final results should be submitted for publication soon.

A new study looking at bio-behavioral synchrony in father-child pairs (D-CARE study; child age 5 years) as a function attachment in both the child (story stem battery – SSB) and father (ECR-R and adult attachment interview – AAI) has started in 2018, and a follow-up project in mother-child pairs (M-CARE study) has just begun in 2019. 

For more information on the CARE studies, please see here.

More details will be provided here as soon as the results of the above projects become available.