UEL Baby Dev Lab

How do infants develop neural entrainment?

How do infants develop neural entrainment?

James Ives

James is a PhD researcher in the second year of his PhD, working on the ONACSA project, looking at infant and adult entrainment to their social partners and the environment. In particular, James is interested in the development of neural entrainment to rhythmic and non-rhythmic social and environmental stimuli. 

This is important because we use entrainment to external stimuli to help us to better understand our surroundings and social interactions. However, to the best of our knowledge we don’t know how we develop this skill and to what level infants are able to neurally entrain to social and environmental stimuli from such a young age.

James has designed passive audio tasks, which infants and adults can listen to during sleep or during quiet time. This paradigm investigates how the infant vs adult brain entrains to rhythmic and non-rhythmic stimuli in the environment in a controlled way. As infants age we will be able to study how entrainment to these stimuli changes.

Classic steady beats (8Hz)

8Hz beats wtih missed beats every 10-20 beats

“Jittered beats”, those with an average rhythm of 8Hz but individually aperiodic beats

In collaboration with Dr. Roy Hessels and the baby development lab at the University of Utrecht, James has created a Video Interaction Rig (VIR), which allows researchers to manipulate interactions between infants and adults. Building on previous work, this version of the VIR has synced audio-video and the capabilities to lag interactions between participants as the paradigm requires. In future this will also include eye tracking capabilities.

Set up diagram from Roy Hessels’ paper. James has been working in collaboration to build a version at UEL that can manipulate the video and audio between an interaction.

James has worked on producing videos using actors to rhythmically sing to a click track mimicking the live puppet karaoke condition. The purpose behind this is to have interactions that are more rhythmic, which will be used to compare neural responses vs the live puppet karaoke conditions.

Data from the above will be used in combination with the lab and home interaction data to investigate neural entrainment to different types of rhythmic and non-rhythmic stimuli and changes in brain-brain entrainment. James is also interested in how neural entrainment develops, whether it is something we are born with or as James hypothesises, this is something that we develop through the wide range of social and environmental interactions with the world around developing infants.