Conversational Synchrony in Mother-Infant Dyads (BASC 396 Undergraduate Research Project Application Form)

ABOUT BASC 396: This course is restricted to B.A. & Sc. students. Furthermore, most research/inquiry projects should normally be offered through other Science or Arts courses; BASC 396 is intended for integrative projects.

INSTRUCTIONS - PROFESSORS: Fill out Sections A, B, & C then submit this form online. (You will receive an email copy of the form. The Office for Undergraduate Research in Science will also post the project online at, indicating whether the project is open for students to apply or taken.) DONE.

INSTRUCTIONS - STUDENTS: You may receive this form by email, or you may download it from after it has been posted. Either way, print this form. Complete and sign Section D on the hardcopy. Ask your supervisor(s) to sign Section E. Take it to OURS, the Office for Undergraduate Research (Dawson Hall, Room 408A; fax 514-398-8102). Do not register for a BASC 396 course on Minerva until you receive permission.

OURS will consult with the B.A. & Sc. Program Advisory Committee Chair (or designate) to approve (or not) this project. OURS will notify the student. If approved, OURS will arrange for the student to receive permission to register on Minerva.

QUESTIONS OR FEEDBACK? Contact Victor Chisholm (OURS) by email, or phone 514-398-5964.

First supervisor's name: David McFarland
Email: david.mcfarland [at] (david mcfarland umontreal ca)
First supervisor's department: School of Communication Sciences & Disorders
Is there a second supervisor? No
Term: Fall 2010-2011
Project start date: Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Project end date: Friday, December 3, 2010
Project title: Conversational Synchrony in Mother-Infant Dyads
Project description: Experts agree that face-to-face interaction between parent and child plays an important role in language development, yet we know very little about how this interaction develops. An initial challenge in this work is to describe the relevant properties of parent/infant interaction, a complex coordination of verbal and non-verbal behaviours. The goal is to develop metrics to gauge conversational synchrony or attunement between infant and caregiver using physiological measures of heart rate and respiration. This approach was successful in studies of adult/adult conversational interaction (McFarland, 2001); it will now be extended to mother/infant interaction. Using data collected from 9 mother/infant dyads, with simultaneous audio-visual, respiratory, and heart rate signals recorded during a resting baseline task, a “conversational” interaction task, and a learning task, the next step will be to quantify measures of respiratory and heart rate synchrony between mothers and infants applying techniques outlined by McFarland (2001) for respiration along with heart rate analysis techniques described in the literature. The synchrony indices will then be verified using cross-correlational analyses to assess how synchrony varies with conversational task demands.
Rationale for offering this project as BASC 396: An opportunity to visualize, codify, and further investigate the physiological relationship to varying forms of conversation, e.g. identifying vocalization by the change in heart rate or respiratory signals at that moment in time.
Prerequisite: 1 term completed at McGill + CGPA of 3.0 or higher; or permission of instructor.
Grading scheme (The final report must be worth at least 50% of final grade): 25% midterm report, 75% final report
Project status - This project is: Taken. The professor has no more '396' projects this term.
How students can apply: N/A; this project is filled.
Ethics, safety, and training
Which of the following, if any, is involved? None
Animal subjects [ ]
Human subjects [ ]
Biohazardous substances [ ]
Radioactive materials [ ]
Handling chemicals [ ]
Using lasers [ ]
Supervisors are responsible for the ethics and safety compliance of undergraduate students.
Do not complete this section unless/until the student is identified.
McGill ID:
Email (first.last [at]
Program (E.g., Maj. Chem. Maj. Conc. Econ.):
Level (U0 / U1 / U2 / U3):
Student signature - I have not applied for another '396' course in this term:
Do not complete this section unless/until the student is identified.
Supervisor: I give my permission for the student identified in section D to register for this project under my supervision.
Supervisor's signature:
Second supervisor's signature, if applicable:
B.A. & Sc. Program Advisory Commitee Chair (or designate): I certify that this project conforms to the requirements for BASC 396 and has an integrative component.
P.A.C. chair/designate's name:
P.A.C. chair/designate's signature: