skip to content

Brain Activation in Mother and BabY (BAMBY)

Project leads: Grace Kromm (Clinical Neurosciences), Dr Vicky Leong (Psychology) and Professor Topun Austin (Paediatrics)

Funding round: 2020–2021

Funding awarded: £2,000

The BAMBY study aims to characterise neural synchrony between mothers and their babies in the neonatal environment and associate this neural synchrony with salient neurological, physiological, and behavioural measures to provide important insight into early social and emotional development. This study will use EEG hyperscanning to compare mother-baby neural synchrony—the synchronisation of brain activity between individuals—across changes in one of the main ways mothers communicate with their newborns: affectionate physical touch. In a healthy infant follow-on cohort, we will compare individual differences in neural synchrony scores with individual differences in mother/infant hormone levels and infant behavioural subscores, with particular interest in self-regulation and social-interactive capabilities. In a follow-on infant cohort with hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy, a brain injury associated with psychosocial and emotional dysregulation, we will compare individual differences in neural synchrony scores with individual differences in infant sleep-cycling integrity and structural brain imaging on MRI, with particular interest in limbic system injury. Therefore, in the pilot phase, BAMBY aims to identify novel neural correlates of interpersonal communication and bonding between mothers and their newborn infants, and in the follow-on phase, BAMBY aims to identify neurological, physiological, and behavioural factors that may be associated with the integrity of this communication.



Grace Kromm is a PhD student at Emmanuel College working with Dr Topun Austin and Dr Victoria Leong. For her PhD, Grace is leading an interdisciplinary project, Brain Activation in Mother and BabY (BAMBY), which uses dual-electroencephalography to characterise neural synchrony between mothers and their healthy or brain-injured newborns as well as the neurological, physiological, and behavioural correlates of this neural synchrony.




Vicky Leong is Affiliated Lecturer at the University of Cambridge (UK) as well as Assistant Professor of Psychology at Nanyang Technological University (Singapore). She heads the Baby-LINC Lab at the Department of Psychology. She studies how infants learn in social contexts, such as during play with parents.




Topun Austin is a Consultant Neonatologist in Cambridge and Honorary Professor of Neurophotonics at University College London, with an interest in brain injury and imaging in the newborn. He leads the Evelyn Perinatal Imaging Centre (EPIC), based at the Rosie Hospital, Cambridge.