Leong, V., Noreika, V., Clackson, K., Georgieva, S., Brightman, L., Nutbrown, R., ... & Wass, S. 2019. PsyArXiv
Social learning allows infants to learn vicariously by observing adult behaviour, but how the infant brain accomplishes this feat remains unknown. Here, electroencephalography (EEG) signals were simultaneously measured from forty-seven mothers and infants (10.7 months) during a live social learning task. First, infants observed mothers demonstrate positive or negative emotions toward novel toys. Next, infants’ own toy interaction (learning) was measured. Infants’ social learning likelihood was robustly predicted by mother-infant interpersonal neural connectivity in the Alpha (6-9 Hz) band. Stronger dyadic neural connectedness predicted increased learning, and was associated with extended ostensive eye contact and maternal utterances. Intra-infant neural connectivity predicted learning valence (positive/negative) but was unrelated to learning likelihood. Therefore, interpersonal connectivity is a neural mechanism by which infants learn from their social partners.