The role of lullabies in caregiver-infant synchronization

This project will investigate the physiological and electrophysiological synchrony between mother and infant during lullaby singing, an activity with special role in development (Cirelli, Trehub & Trainor, 2018). Studies show that early interpersonal synchrony is mediated by behavioral, physiological (e.g. via the biological clock and the cardiac pacemaker, the hormone oxytocin) and probably neural events, and can be viewed as a formative experience for the maturation of the social brain, impacting the development of self-regulation, symbol use, and empathy across childhood and adolescence (Feldman, 2007; Markova, Nguyen & Hoehl, 2019).

This project explores the role of lullabies and focuses on the synchronization of physiological rhythms between caregiver and infant during the singing of lullabies. For this purpose, physiological measurements of heart and breathing rate as well as electroencephalogram (mobile EEG) will be recorded simultaneously from caregiver and infant at different moments in infants’ development. The emergence of coherence in heart and breathing rhythms, as well as brain-to-brain synchrony between caregiver and infant, will be assessed in relation to musical/acoustic parameters of the lullaby sang, as well as the typical soothing, bouncing movement that often accompanies lullaby singing by the caregiver. 

Project Team


Georgios Michalareas

Camilla Bruder 
(PhD Student)

Dr. Pauline Larrouy-Maestri

Prof. David Poeppel