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Emotional Communication and Inter-brain Synchronization: The Conversation between Dad and a Babbling Baby that Went Viral

This video on Youtube (click on the image below) of a Dad having a conversation with his not-yet verbal baby, has gone viral on social media and has melted hearts all over the world.

The beauty of it is in the authenticity of the exchange, which shows an outstanding attunement on the father’s part and an equally unusual intensity of communication back from his little toddler boy. Notice the synchronized choreography of the head turnings, the back-and-forth conversation, the intonation of the “sentences” and the body movements! It is a beautiful example of how to let a small child know that you are “together” and that his “opinions” are very much at the focus of this interaction. This video speaks volumes about the capacity of children from a very young age to engage in reciprocal interactions with their caretakers and to be profoundly impacted by the quality of these interactions. One can see in the video the value of non-verbal ways in which we can covey to young infants and children that they are important, that their thoughts and input are meaningful, and that they are competent communicators who can have an impact on the other. What an adorable pair these two are, and what a teachable moment to remember!

In recent years, research in developmental psychology and neuro-affective science has led to an increased emphasis on the interpersonal neurobiology of human development. This research has shown that both the structure and the function of the mind and brain are shaped by experiences, especially those involving emotional relationships. Interbrain synchronization acts as an underlying reciprocal psycho-neurobiological mechanism by which minds and brains are shaped by other minds and brains. Attunement and synchronicity are communicated primarily by gaze, body posture and physical movement, well-timed pauses and turn-taking in conversation, and the ‘music’ of speech.

This video is a fantastic lesson to all of us, whether in conversation with a toddler or with anyone else, about synchronicity and reciprocal attunement!

                 Irit Felsen

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