Gaze Into Your Baby’s Eyes: You’re Syncing Brain Waves

Photography: Poppy Peterson Photography

By Hannah Schenker

Staring into your baby’s eyes may come absolutely naturally to you, but did you know that this love-filled staring contest between the two of you actually makes your brain waves fall in sync? Bazinga!

A study has discovered the syncing up of brain waves when baby and adult make eye contact, which may actually lead to better communication – as babies were found to make more little sounds when their eyes are locked on to an adult’s. The scientists report the results online November 28 2017 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Psychologist Victoria Leong of the University of Cambridge and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and colleagues created two experiments. In the first, 17 eight-month-old babies had EEG caps fitted to their heads, containing electrodes that measured the collective behaviour of nerve cells across the brain. The babies then watched a video of an adult who also wore an EEG cap, who sang a nursery rhyme while looking either straight at the baby, at the baby but with their head turned at a 20 degree angle, or away from the baby with the head turned at a 20 degree angle.

When the adult looked at the baby – either straight on or with the head slightly turned, the baby’s brain activity responded with activity patterns that resembled those of the adult. How amazing is that!

For the second experiment, the adult sat with 19 different babies in real life, again with adult and baby wearing an EEG cap measuring brain activity. Again, when their eyes met, their brain activity synced. When eye contact was missing, the brain activity didn’t match as closely.

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