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The Interplay Between Tonal Synchrony and Social Engagement in Mother–Infant Interaction

Authors

  • Martine Van Puyvelde,

    Corresponding author
    • Research Group Interpersonal, Discursive and Narrative Studies Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
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  • Gerrit Loots,

    1. Research Group Interpersonal, Discursive and Narrative Studies Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
    2. Universidad Católica Boliviana “San Pablo” La Paz
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  • Bart Vinck,

    1. Centre for Economy and Management, Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel
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  • Lotta De Coster,

    1. Faculty of Psychological and Educational Sciences, Université Libre de Bruxelles
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  • Liesbeth Matthijs,

    1. Research Group Interpersonal, Discursive and Narrative Studies Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
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  • Kimberley Mouvet,

    1. Research Group Interpersonal, Discursive and Narrative Studies Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
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  • Nathalie Pattyn

    1. Department Communication, Information, Systems and Sensors (CISS) Royal Military Academy Brussels (RMA), Faculty of Experimental and Applied Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)
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Correspondence should be sent to Martine Van Puyvelde, Pleinlaan 2, B-1050 Brussel, Belgium. E-mail: mvpuyvel@vub.ac.be

Abstract

This study explores the relationship between tonal synchrony and maternal-infant social engagement based on free-play recordings of 15 mothers and their 3-month-old infants in a laboratory setting. Moment-by-moment analyses on a microlevel were used to study social engagement and vocal interaction. We analysed and categorized 854 vocalization periods (mother-only vocalizations, tonal interaction periods, nontonal interaction periods, and mutual silence). Tonal synchrony was analysed in terms of harmonic and pentatonic series based on pitch frequency analyses. Social engagement was microanalyzed in terms of matched and mismatched engagement states. ANOVA-repeated measures revealed, most importantly, a significant relationship between TIPs and social interaction repair, which indicates the importance of tonal synchrony in the flow of social engagement in mother–infant dyads. Other significant relationships were found between (a) nTIPs/mismatch–mismatch, and, (b) MOV/affect loss. As mentioned in the discussion, the findings are suggestive for clinical applications (e.g., music therapy) and warrant further research.

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