Adversity is Linked with Decreased Parent-Child Behavioral and Neural Synchrony

Caroline P. Hoyniak*, Laura E. Quiñones-Camacho, M. Catalina Camacho, Jenna H. Chin, Elizabeth M. Williams, Lauren S. Wakschlag, Susan B. Perlman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Parent-child synchrony—parent-child interaction patterns characterized by contingent social responding, mutual responsivity, and co-regulation—has been robustly associated with adaptive child outcomes. Synchrony has been investigated in both behavioral and biological frameworks. While it has been demonstrated that adversity can influence behavioral parent-child synchrony, the neural mechanisms by which this disruption occurs are understudied. The current study examined the association between adversity, parent-child behavioral synchrony, and parent-child neural synchrony across lateral prefrontal cortical regions using functional near-infrared spectroscopy hyperscanning during a parent-child interaction task that included a mild stress induction followed by a recovery period. Participants included 115 children (ages 4-5) and their primary caregivers. Parent-child behavioral synchrony was quantified as the amount time the dyad was synchronous (e.g., reciprocal communication, coordinated behaviors) during the interaction task. Parent-child neural synchrony was examined as the hemodynamic concordance between parent and child lateral PFC activation. Adversity was examined across two, empirically-derived domains: sociodemographic risk (e.g., family income) and familial risk (e.g., household chaos). Adversity, across domains, was associated with decreased parent-child behavioral synchrony across task conditions. Sociodemographic risk was associated with decreased parent-child neural synchrony in the context of experimentally-induced stress. These findings link adversity to decreased parent-child behavioral and neural synchrony.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100937
JournalDevelopmental Cognitive Neuroscience
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Adversity
  • Parent-Child Neural Synchrony
  • fNIRS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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