Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > Investigating the effect of synchronized moveme...


Text available via DOI:

View graph of relations

Investigating the effect of synchronized movement on toddlers’ word learning

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

Article number1008404
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>24/11/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Frontiers in Psychology
Number of pages15
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The effect of interpersonal behavioral synchrony on children’s behavior is an emerging field rich with research potential. While studies demonstrate its effect on affiliative and prosocial outcomes, the role of synchronized movement on children’s specific learning outcomes has not yet been investigated experimentally. One possibility is that synchrony, as a coordinated social activity, encourages perceived social bonds, leading to heightened attention, and better information retention. Equally likely is that physiological, rather than social learning, mechanisms mediate the effect, given the previously demonstrated role of autonomic arousal in attentional fluctuations, cognitive engagement, problem solving, exploration, and curiosity. The present study investigated the behavioral and physiological effects of synchrony conceptualized as induced, interpersonal, behavioral, movement-based interaction, on word learning in 2.5-year-old children. In a laboratory experiment, toddlers engaged in either a synchronous or an asynchronous movement-based interaction with an adult experimenter while listening to an upbeat children’s song. After the (a)synchronous movement episode, the same experimenter engaged children in a word learning task. During the (a)synchrony and learning phases, children’s physiological arousal was continuously recorded, resulting in heart rate and skin conductance response measures. Following a caregiver-child free play break, children were tested on their novel word retention. The results indicated that children learned novel labels at equal rates during the learning phase in both conditions, and their retention at test did not differ between conditions: although above chance retention of novel labels was found only following the synchronous, but not the asynchronous episode, the cross-episode comparisons did not reach statistical significance. Physiological arousal indices following the (a)synchrony episode did not differ between conditions and did not predict better word learning, although skin conductance response was higher during the learning than the movement episode. This study contributes to our understanding of the underlying cognitive and physiological mechanisms of interpersonal behavioral synchrony in the knowledge acquisition domain and paves the way to future investigations.