Recent scientific research has revealed the presence of shared neural fingerprints between parents and their children when listening to stories.
Parents or caregivers are the most important individuals for a child. The parent-child interaction plays a crucial role in the child’s well-being, especially in the development of their cognitive abilities.
Behavioral and neuroimaging studies have indicated that parent-child interactions contribute to shaping the child’s executive function system and limbic capacity.
Furthermore, the emotional regulation of parents influences the child’s emotional characteristics that are connected to their neural systems.
An earlier neurobiological model for parent-child interaction showed that a parent aligns the child’s brain activity toward higher-level cognitive and social processes.
Hyperscanning methods have been developed to gain better understanding of the neurobiological determinants of parent-child interaction.
These methods aid in synchronizing the brain activity of a parent-child pair during their interaction, allowing researchers to better understand their shared neurobiological activity.
Hyperscanning data from parent-child pairs demonstrated stronger emotional synchrony; for example, comparable neural connectivity profiles at rest were observed between them when watching an emotional film.
In another study, scanner images showed similar neural activity between mothers and teenagers, specifically when the mothers observed their teenagers performing a challenging task.
In addition to hyperscanning methods, the Connectome-based Predictive Modeling (CPM) is another approach aimed at understanding the variability within the group in the relationship between the brain and behavior.
This method can reliably predict a child’s cognitive abilities. A limited number of studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of the Connectome Fingerprinting approach in distinguishing individuals based on brain connectivity patterns.
About the Study
This study hypothesized that biological parent-child pairs exhibit similar and distinctive functional connectivity patterns, particularly those related to emotional and executive function systems.
Therefore, brain connectivity profiles captured during a story listening task could be used for identifying parent-child pairs.
A Diffusion Map (DM) framework, a nonlinear dimension reduction technique, was utilized to identify meaningful functional connectivity similarities between a parent and their child.
Overall, thirteen Hebrew-speaking children aged 8 to 12 years were recruited along with one of their biological parents.
The average age of the parents was 42.4 years. All recruited parent-child pairs were Caucasian and from a relatively affluent socioeconomic background.
None of the participants had a history of neurological or developmental disorders. They underwent two separate computer-based neuroimaging scans with a maximum interval of one month between the two scans.
It is important to note that the participants were asked to listen to stories being played during the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Besides, behavioral assessments were also conducted in both sessions.
The functional fMRI data revealed the presence of shared neural determinants between biological parent-child dyads.
Significantly, similar intra-brain connectivity profiles were recorded while listening to stories, which could be used for identifying biological parent-child pairs.
In line with the results of previous studies, the current study demonstrated increased brain-to-brain synchronization in individuals with similar characteristics.
This study also reflected the existence of similarities in brain activation when listening to stories among socially connected individuals. The highest number of parent-child FC similarities was observed in the DMN-Frontoparietal node (FP).
Previous studies have indicated that the parietal cortex is associated with generating subjective perspectives. Brain similarities in FC might stem from shared perceptions that become evident through story interpretation.
A positive neural fingerprint showed increased involvement of salience-memory and cerebellum-cerebellum nodes. This finding implies that biological parents and children utilize similar cognitive and sensory brain networks supporting cognitive monitoring and processing while listening to stories.
This study postulated that the parental cerebellum plays a crucial role in the child’s language processing during listening comprehension.
In addition, similar neural interactions occur between parent-child pairs while retrieving information from memory to support story comprehension.
Two Cognitive-Based Integrative (CBI) submodels were used in this study, indicating that biological parent-child pairs exhibit FC similarities and differences. These could be used as fMRI-based neural fingerprints. Future studies should focus on the extent to which genetic and environmental factors influence connectome similarity.
The current study illustrated the presence of distinct functional correlates associated with both cognitive and sensory networks shared between biological parent-child pairs when listening to stories.
Supporting evidence was also documented regarding the use of neural fingerprints for identifying biological parent-child relationships.