It takes a village: A multi-brain approach to studying multigenerational family communication

Suzanne Dikker, Natalie H. Brito, Guillaume Dumas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Grandparents play a critical role in child rearing across the globe. Yet, there is a shortage of neurobiological research examining the relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren. We employ multi-brain neurocomputational models to simulate how changes in neurophysiological processes in both development and healthy aging affect multigenerational inter-brain coupling – a neural marker that has been linked to a range of socio-emotional and cognitive outcomes. The simulations suggest that grandparent-child interactions may be paired with higher inter-brain coupling than parent-child interactions, raising the possibility that the former may be more advantageous under certain conditions. Critically, this enhancement of inter-brain coupling for grandparent-child interactions is more pronounced in tri-generational interactions that also include a parent, which may speak to findings that grandparent involvement in childrearing is most beneficial if the parent is also an active household member. Together, these findings underscore that a better understanding of the neurobiological basis of cross-generational interactions is vital, and that such knowledge can be helpful in guiding interventions that consider the whole family. We advocate for a community neuroscience approach in developmental social neuroscience to capture the diversity of child-caregiver relationships in real-world settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101330
JournalDevelopmental Cognitive Neuroscience
StatePublished - Feb 2024


  • Community neuroscience
  • Grandparent-child interactions
  • Inter-brain coupling
  • Multi-brain simulations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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