Playing With Babies Can Make Your Brain Waves Sync Up Together

和嬰兒玩耍時,你們的腦電波會同步

Playing with a tiny human is one of those small pleasures in life where you really feel like you're connecting with a person. It's not just in your mind, either. We now have evidence that the rise and fall of their brain activity matches yours when you play together.

和小寶貝玩是生活中的一種小樂趣,你會感覺自己和他心靈相通。這并不只是你腦海里的臆想,現在已有證據表明,當你和小孩一起玩的時候,他們大腦活動的波動與你是一致的。

A study conducted by researchers at the Princeton Baby Lab in the US recorded the brain activity of 18 children aged between 10 and 15 months as they engaged with an adult experimenter.

美國普林斯頓嬰兒實驗室的研究人員進行了一項研究,記錄了18名10至15個月大的兒童在與一名成年實驗者進行交流時的大腦活動。

"Previous research has shown that adults' brains sync up when they watch movies and listen to stories, but little is known about how this 'neural synchrony' develops in the first years of life," says cognitive psychologist Elise Piazza.

認知心理學家Elise Piazza說:“之前的研究已經表明,成年人在看電影和聽故事時,大腦會同步,但是對于這種‘神經同步’在生命的最初幾年是如何發展的,我們知之甚少。”

This kind of interpersonal 'synchrony' isn't some mind meld caused by spooky transmissions, but rather the product of finely tuned patterns that coordinate tasks in different parts of the brain in response to stimuli.

這種人與人之間的“同步”并不是由于幽靈般的信息傳遞引起的某種心靈融合,而是一種精細調整的模式的產物,這種模式協調了大腦不同部位對刺激的反應。

Those stimuli typically come from other regions of the same brain, but the actions of another person can also affect how we process information and carry out a response.

這些刺激通常來自同一大腦的其他區域,但另一個人的行為也會影響我們處理信息和做出反應的方式。

Likewise, our own actions can in return influence the other person's brain, setting up feedback loops that quickly fall into sync.

同樣,我們自己的行為反過來也會影響他人的大腦,形成反饋回路,很快兩人的大腦就會同步。

Showing how this occurs in an adult brain is easy enough. The neurological functions that process and respond to sensory information in our brains chew up a lot of energy, so researchers simply measure and map subtle changes in the infrared glow of our brains as haemoglobin in the blood supply releases oxygen.

我們很容易證明這是如何在成人大腦中發生的。我們大腦中處理和響應感覺信息的神經功能會消耗大量能量,因此研究人員可以簡單地測量和繪制我們大腦紅外光的細微變化,因為血液供應中的血紅蛋白會釋放氧氣。

As you might imagine, children aren't always cooperative volunteers. Of the original selection of volunteered toddlers, 15 squirmed a little too much to get good readings. Three refused to wear the infrared-measuring cap at all.

可以想象到,小朋友并不總是愿意合作的志愿者。在最初選擇的志愿者中,15名兒童扭動得太厲害了,無法得到良好的閱讀效果。另有三個人根本不愿意戴紅外測量帽。

In the end, the researchers analysed the prefrontal cortex, temporoparietal junction, and parietal cortex – all areas involved in processing language, making predictions, and understanding other perspectives – of 18 kids as they engaged with a single experimenter in a range of simple tasks.

最后,研究人員分析了18名兒童的前額葉皮層、顳頂葉交界處和頂葉皮層(所有這些區域都參與了處理語言、預測和理解其他觀點的過程),這些兒童與一名實驗者進行了一系列簡單的任務。

Sometimes they enjoyed a reading of the bedtime story Goodnight Moon while sitting in their parent's lap. Other times it was a nursery rhyme singalong, or playing with a set of toys.

他們有時坐在父母的膝上,閱讀睡前故事《晚安,月亮》,有時是一起唱一首兒歌,或是玩一套玩具。

To have a point of comparison for the pair's brain activity, a number of trials involved the experimenter sitting with their side facing the child as they engaged with another adult in similar ways.

為了比較兩人的大腦活動,還進行了一些實驗,孩子坐在實驗者側面,實驗者以相似的方式與另一個成年人交流。

The difference revealed a similar synchronisation occurring in babies as between adults – the experimenter's and child's brain echoed each other in areas involved with higher order processing, but only when the two were interacting directly.

這一差異揭示了嬰兒和成年人之間也存在類似的同步現象——實驗者和兒童的大腦在涉及更高階處理的區域相互呼應,但只有在兩人直接互動時才會出現這種同步。

"While communicating, the adult and child seem to form a feedback loop," said Piazza.

Piazza說:“在交流時,大人和孩子似乎形成了一個反饋回路。”

"That is, the adult's brain seemed to predict when the infants would smile, the infants' brains anticipated when the adult would use more 'baby talk,' and both brains tracked joint eye contact and joint attention to toys. So, when a baby and adult play together, their brains influence each other in dynamic ways."

“也就是說,成人的大腦似乎可以預測到嬰兒何時會笑,嬰兒的大腦可以預測到成人何時會用更多地‘兒童化語言’,而且兩個大腦都追蹤了他們的眼神交流和對玩具的共同注意力。所以,當嬰兒和成人一起玩耍時,他們的大腦會會以動態的方式相互影響。”

This was especially evident in the pre-frontal cortex, the part of the brain that deals with planning and learning. Since this is also a region that's yet to fully develop in infants, the finding was somewhat a surprise.

這在負責計劃和學習的大腦前額葉皮層尤為明顯。由于這也是一個在嬰兒階段尚未完全發育的區域,這一發現多少有些令人驚訝。

"We were also surprised to find that the infant brain was often 'leading' the adult brain by a few seconds, suggesting that babies do not just passively receive input but may guide adults toward the next thing they're going to focus on: which toy to pick up, which words to say," says psychologist Casey Lew-Williams.

心理學家Casey Lew-Williams說:“我們也驚奇地發現,嬰兒的大腦往往提前幾秒“領導”成年人的大腦,這表明嬰兒并不只是被動地接收輸入,還可能引導成人關注他們接下來會關注的東西:撿起哪個玩具,說什么話。”?

If they knew the rules, babies would make perfect poker players. It can be hard to know what's going on inside those tiny developing brains just by watching their face.

如果他們知道這些規則,兒童會成為完美的撲克玩家,因為僅僅通過觀察他們的臉很難知道這些小小的發育中的大腦里發生了什么。

But it's becoming clear that they're far from passively taking everything in – from the youngest age, infants are guiding those around them into showing them the ropes, causing our brains to fall into step with theirs.

但我們越來越清楚的是,他們絕不是被動地接受一切。從最幼齡開始,嬰兒就引導周圍的人,展示他們的規則,導致成人的大腦與他們的大腦步調一致。

"Our research, using an infant-friendly imaging technique, provides the first demonstration of the dynamic role played by both the developing and mature brain during live social interaction," the researchers write in their report.

研究人員在報告中寫道:“我們的研究使用了一種適合嬰兒的成像技術,首次證明了發育和成熟的大腦在實時社交活動中所扮演的動態角色。“

This research was published in Psychological Science.

這項研究發表在《Psychological Science》雜志上。

翻譯:MS小冰晶