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Mother-Infant Communication Lab at New York State Psychiatric Institute | Columbia University Medical Center

Dr. Beebe accepts new volunteers! To apply click here.

The Communication Sciences Lab is directed by Beatrice Beebe, PhD. Our research focuses on the microanalysis of mother-infant communication, risk and resilience, and developmental outcomes. Our clinical focus is on primary prevention in mother-infant dyads at risk for dysregulated social development.

We investigate mother-infant face-to-face communication and infant social development. In particular, we study the self- and interactive processes organizing mother-infant communication. Parent-infant communication creates the foundation for infant emotional development and sets a powerful trajectory in development.


We investigate:

  • The role that infant distress and maternal distress (such as depression and anxiety) play in this communication

  • The effects of early mother-infant communication patterns on emerging infant attachment styles and infant cognition

  • The long-term continuity of communication and attachment styles from infancy to young adulthood


Video and audio microanalysis of mother-infant behavior has been the focus of the lab for four decades. This precise coding, together with sophisticated statistical methods of multi-level time-series analysis, functions like a social microscope. We identify different self- and interactive regulation patterns of contingent relating, including mother and infant patterns of coordinating vocal rhythms, looking and looking away, facial expressions, vocal affect, orientation, and touch. These patterns have predicted infant one-year attachment in two large community cohorts.

To check our ongoing projects click here.

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