The Impact of Caregiving on the Association Between Infant Emotional Behavior and Resting State Neural Network Functional Topology.
ABSTRACT: The extent to which neural networks underlying emotional behavior in infancy serve as precursors of later behavioral and emotional problems is unclear. Even less is known about caregiving influences on these early brain-behavior relationships. To study brain-emotional behavior relationships in infants, we examined resting-state functional network metrics and infant emotional behavior in the context of early maternal caregiving. We assessed 46 3-month-old infants and their mothers from a community sample. Infants underwent functional MRI during sleep. Resting-state data were processed using graph theory techniques to examine specific nodal metrics as indicators of network functionality. Infant positive and negative emotional behaviors, and positive, negative and mental-state talk (MST) indices of maternal caregiving were coded independently from filmed interactions. Regression analyses tested associations among nodal metrics and infant emotionality, and the moderating effects of maternal behavior on these relationships. All results were FDR corrected at alpha = 0.05. While relationships between infant emotional behavior or maternal caregiving, and nodal metrics were weak, higher levels of maternal MST strengthened associations between infant positive emotionality and nodal metrics within prefrontal (p < 0.0001), and occipital (p < 0.0001) cortices more generally. Positive and negative aspects of maternal caregiving had little effect. Our findings suggest that maternal MST may play an important role in strengthening links between emotion regulation neural circuitry and early infant positive behavior. They also provide objective neural markers that could inform and monitor caregiving-based interventions designed to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable infants at-risk for behavioral and emotional problems.
Project description:Although contemporary socio-cultural changes dramatically increased fathers' involvement in childrearing, little is known about the brain basis of human fatherhood, its comparability with the maternal brain, and its sensitivity to caregiving experiences. We measured parental brain response to infant stimuli using functional MRI, oxytocin, and parenting behavior in three groups of parents (n = 89) raising their firstborn infant: heterosexual primary-caregiving mothers (PC-Mothers), heterosexual secondary-caregiving fathers (SC-Fathers), and primary-caregiving homosexual fathers (PC-Fathers) rearing infants without maternal involvement. Results revealed that parenting implemented a global "parental caregiving" neural network, mainly consistent across parents, which integrated functioning of two systems: the emotional processing network including subcortical and paralimbic structures associated with vigilance, salience, reward, and motivation, and mentalizing network involving frontopolar-medial-prefrontal and temporo-parietal circuits implicated in social understanding and cognitive empathy. These networks work in concert to imbue infant care with emotional salience, attune with the infant state, and plan adequate parenting. PC-Mothers showed greater activation in emotion processing structures, correlated with oxytocin and parent-infant synchrony, whereas SC-Fathers displayed greater activation in cortical circuits, associated with oxytocin and parenting. PC-Fathers exhibited high amygdala activation similar to PC-Mothers, alongside high activation of superior temporal sulcus (STS) comparable to SC-Fathers, and functional connectivity between amygdala and STS. Among all fathers, time spent in direct childcare was linked with the degree of amygdala-STS connectivity. Findings underscore the common neural basis of maternal and paternal care, chart brain-hormone-behavior pathways that support parenthood, and specify mechanisms of brain malleability with caregiving experiences in human fathers.
Project description:In the longitudinal study reported here, we examined genetic and caregiving-based contributions to individual differences in infant attachment classifications. For 154 mother-infant pairs, we rated mothers' responsiveness to their 6-month-old infants during naturalistic interactions and classified infants' attachment organization at 12 and 18 months using the Strange Situation procedure. These infants were later genotyped with respect to the serotonin-transporter-linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR). Maternal responsiveness uniquely predicted infants' attachment security. Infants' 5-HTTLPR variation uniquely predicted their subtype of attachment security at 12 months and their subtype of attachment insecurity at 12 and 18 months. The short allele for 5-HTTLPR was associated with attachment classifications characterized by higher emotional distress. These findings suggest that 5-HTTLPR variation contributes to infants' emotional reactivity and that the degree to which caregivers are responsive influences how effectively infants use their caregivers for emotion regulation. Theoretical implications for the study of genetic and caregiving influences are discussed.
Project description:Twenty-to-forty percent of women experience postpartum depressive symptoms, which can affect both the mother and infant. In preterm infants, daily skin-to-skin contact (SSC) between the mother and her infant has been shown to decrease maternal postpartum depressive symptoms. In full-term infants, only two studies investigated SSC effects on maternal depressive symptoms and found similar results. Research in preterm infants also showed that SSC improves other mental and physical health outcomes of the mother and the infant, and improves the quality of mother-infant relationship. This randomized controlled trial will investigate the effects of a SSC intervention on maternal postpartum depressive symptoms and additional outcomes in mothers and their full-term infants. Moreover, two potential underlying mechanisms for the relation between SSC and the maternal and infant outcomes will be examined, namely maternal oxytocin concentrations and infant intestinal microbiota.Design: A parallel-group randomized controlled trial.116 mothers and their full-term infants.Mothers in the SSC condition will be requested to provide daily at least one continuous hour of SSC to their infant. The intervention starts immediately after birth and lasts for 5 weeks. Mothers in the control condition will not be requested to provide SSC. Maternal and infant outcomes will be measured at 2 weeks, 5 weeks, 12 weeks and 1 year after birth.maternal postpartum depressive symptoms. Secondary maternal outcomes: mental health (anxiety, stress, traumatic stress following child birth, sleep quality), physical health (physical recovery from the delivery, health, breastfeeding, physiological stress), mother-infant relationship (mother-infant bond, quality of maternal caregiving behavior). Secondary infant outcomes: behavior (fussing and crying, sleep quality), physical health (growth and health, physiological stress), general development (regulation capacities, social-emotional capacities, language, cognitive and motor capacities). Secondary underlying mechanisms: maternal oxytocin concentrations, infant intestinal microbiota.As a simple and cost-effective intervention, SSC may benefit both the mother and her full-term infant in the short-and long-term. Additionally, if SSC is shown to be effective in low-risk mother-infant dyads, then thought could be given to developing programs in high-risk samples and using SSC in a preventive manner.NTR5697 ; Registered on March 13, 2016.
Project description:<h4>Objective</h4>Early temperamental characteristics may influence children's developmental pathways and predict future psychopathology. However, the environmental context may also shape or interact with infant temperament and indirectly contribute to increased vulnerability to adverse developmental outcomes. The aim of the present study is to explore the long-term contribution of temperamental traits at twelve months of age to the presence of emotional and behavioral problems later in childhood, and whether this association varies with the child's sex, parental separation, family socioeconomic status and maternal depression.<h4>Method</h4>1184 mother-child pairs from the EDEN mother-child birth cohort study based in France (2003-2011), were followed from 24-28 weeks of pregnancy to the child's fifth birthday. Infant temperament at 12 months was assessed with the Emotionality Activity and Sociability (EAS) questionnaire and behavior at 5.5 years was assessed with the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ).<h4>Results</h4>Emotional temperament in infancy predicts children's overall behavioral scores (? = 1.16, p<0.001), emotional difficulties (? = 0.30, p<0.001), conduct problems (? = 0.51, p<0.001) and symptoms of hyperactivity/inattention (? = 0.31, p = 0.01) at 5.5 years. Infants' active temperament predicts later conduct problems (? = 0.30, p = 0.02), while shyness predicts later emotional problems (? = 0.22, p = 0.04). The association between the child's temperament in infancy and later behavior did not vary with children's own or family characteristics.<h4>Conclusion</h4>An emotional temperament in infancy is associated with higher levels of emotional and behavioral difficulties at the age of 5.5 years. Children who show high emotionality early on may require early prevention and intervention efforts to divert possible adverse developmental pathways.
Project description:Women who abuse illicit drugs often engage in atypical parenting behaviors that interfere with the natural development of mother-infant interaction and attachment. Maternal caregiving deficits leave pronounced adverse consequences in the wake of drug abuse relapse, which often occurs and in early infancy. These are times when the child requires optimal parental care. The contemporary literature documents long-term implications of illicit drug-abuse in parenting on infants. However, factors that drive and sustain the influence of drug abuse on parent-infant outcomes remain elusive. This review adopts a biopsychosocial approach to synthesizing the existing state of knowledge on this issue. Mother-infant interaction is a dynamic socio-relational process that occurs at multiple levels of organization. As such, a biopsychosocial perspective enables us to uncover: (i) roles of specific physiological mechanisms and biological characteristics of atypical parenting in mothers who abuse drugs, (ii) the influence of drugs on maternal psychological state (i.e., beliefs regarding parenting practices, emotional regulation), and (iii) social relationships (i.e., relationships with spouse and other drug abusers) and contextual cues (i.e., triggers) that moderate non-optimal maternal caregiving. A comprehensive review of these key domains provides a nuanced understanding of how these several sources interdependently shape atypical parent-infant interaction amongst drug abusing mothers. Systematic elucidation of major factors underlying drug-abused maternal behaviors facilitates the development of targeted and more effective interventions.
Project description:Infant emotional expressions, such as distress cries, evoke maternal physiological reactions. Most of which involve accelerated sympathetic nervous activity. Comparatively little is known about effects of positive infant expressions, such as happy smiles, on maternal physiological responses. This study investigated how physiological and psychological maternal states change in response to infants' emotional expressions. Thirty first-time mothers viewed films of their own 6- to 7-month-old infants' affective behavior. Each observed a video of a distress cry followed by a video showing one of two expressions (randomly assigned): a happy smiling face (smile condition) or a calm neutral face (neutral condition). Both before and after the session, participants completed a self-report inventory assessing their emotional states. The results of the self-report inventory revealed no effects of exposure to the infant videos. However, the mothers in the smile condition, but not in the neutral condition, showed deceleration of skin conductance. These findings demonstrate that the mothers who observed their infants smiling showed decreased sympathetic activity. We propose that an infant's positive emotional expression may affect the branch of the maternal stress-response system that modulates the homeostatic balance of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
Project description:INTRODUCTION:Neurodevelopmental disability (ND) represents an adverse condition for infants' socio-emotional and behavioural development as well as for caregiving (eg, parental sensitivity) and mother-infant interaction. Adverse exposures are associated with altered neuroendocrine hormones concentrations (eg, oxytocin and cortisol) and epigenetic regulation (eg, methylation of stress-related genes), which in turn may contribute to less-than-optimal mother-infant interaction. Parental sensitivity is a protective factor for childrens' development and early parental interventions (eg, video-feedback intervention) can promote parental caregiving and better developmental outcomes in children. The present multi-centric and longitudinal randomised controlled trial aims to assess if and to which extent early VFI could benefit both infants and mothers in terms of behavioural outcomes as well as neuroendocrine and epigenetic regulation. METHODS AND ANALYSIS:Dyads will be randomly assigned to the video-feedback Intervention Group or Control Group ('dummy' intervention: telephone calls). Infants with ND aged 3 to 18 months will be recruited from three major child neuropsychiatric units in northern Italy. A multi-layer approach to intervention effects will include videotapes of mother-infant interaction, maternal reports as well as saliva samples for hormones concentrations and target-gene methylation analysis (eg, BDNF, NR3C1, OXTR and SCL6A4) that will be obtained at each of the four assessment sessions: T0, baseline; T1, post-intervention; T2, short-term follow-up (3 month); T3, long-term follow-up (6 month). Primary effectiveness measures will be infant socio-emotional behaviour and maternal sensitivity. Neuroendocrine hormones concentrations and DNA methylation status of target genes will be secondary outcomes. Feasibility, moderation and confounding variables will be measured and controlled between the two groups. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION:Ethics approval has been obtained in all three participating units. Results of the main trial and each of the secondary endpoints will be submitted for publication in peer-reviewed journals and international conferences. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER:NCT03853564; Pre-results.
Project description:Exposure to general anesthesia during the postnatal period is associated with death of brain cells as well as long-term impairments in cognitive and emotional behavior in animal models. These models are critical for investigating mechanisms of pediatric anesthetic neurotoxicity as well as for testing potential strategies for preventing or mitigating this toxicity. Control conditions for anesthesia exposure involve separation of conscious infants from their mothers for variable periods of time, which could have its own effect on subsequent behavior because of stress to the mother and/or infant as a consequence of separation.We are conducting a long-term study of infant rhesus monkeys exposed three times for 4h each to sevoflurane anesthesia during the first six postnatal weeks, with a comparison condition of control infant monkeys that undergo brief maternal separations on the same schedule, to equate the period of time each infant is conscious and separated from its mother. Because mothers are separated from their infants longer for infants in the anesthesia condition, this could modify maternal behavior toward the infant, which may influence subsequent socioemotional behavior in the infants. In this study, we analyzed maternal behavior immediately after the first post-anesthesia (or control) reunion, as well as during reintroduction of the mother-infant pair to the larger social group 24 hpost-anesthesia or control separation, and found no differences between the conditions with mothers spending most of their time in contact with infants in all conditions analyzed. This indicates that the different durations of maternal separation in this study design do not impact the mother-infant bond, strengthening conclusions that subsequent differences in behavior between monkeys exposed to anesthesia compared to controls are a consequence of anesthesia exposure and not differential maternal behavior in the two conditions.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Bowlby and Ainsworth hypothesized that maternal responsiveness is displayed in the context of infant distress. Depressed mothers are less responsive to infant distress vocalizations (cry) than non-depressed mothers. The present study focuses on acoustical components of infant cry that give rise to responsive caregiving in clinically depressed (n = 30) compared with non-depressed mothers (n = 30) in the natural setting of the home.<h4>Methods</h4>Analyses of infant and mother behaviors followed three paths: (1) tests of group differences in acoustic characteristics of infant cry, (2) tests of group differences of mothers' behaviors during their infant's crying, and (3) tree-based modeling to ascertain which variable(s) best predict maternal behaviors during infant cry.<h4>Results</h4>(1) Infants of depressed mothers cried as frequently and for equal durations as infants of non-depressed mothers; however, infants of depressed mothers cried with a higher fundamental frequency (f0) and in a more restricted range of f0. (2) Depressed mothers fed, rocked, and touched their crying infants less than non-depressed mothers, and depressed mothers were less responsive to their infants overall. (3) Novel tree-based analyses confirmed that depressed mothers engaged in less caregiving during their infants' cry and indicated that depressed mothers responded only to cries at higher f0s and shorter durations. Older non-depressed mothers were the most interactive with infants.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Clinical depression affects maternal responsiveness during infant cry, leading to patterns of action that appear poorly attuned to infant needs.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:We sought to evaluate whether maternal characteristics and infant developmental milieu were predictive of early cognitive development in HIV-exposed uninfected (HEU) and HIV-unexposed uninfected (HU) infants in Uganda. DESIGN:Longitudinal pregnancy study. METHODS:Ugandan women (n = 228) were enrolled into the Postnatal Nutrition and Psychosocial Health Outcomes study with a 2:1 HIV-uninfected: infected ratio. Maternal sociodemographic, perceived social support, and depressive symptomatology were assessed. Infant growth and neurocognitive development were assessed at 6 and 12 months of age using Mullen Scales of Early Learning (MSEL). Caldwell Home Observation for Home Environment was used to gauge caregiving quality. Linear mixed-effects models were built to examine the relationships between maternal and infant characteristics with infant MSEL scores by HIV exposure. RESULTS:Two MSEL measures were available for 215 mother-child dyads: 140 infants (65%) were HIV-uninfected (HU), 57 (27%) were HIV-exposed uninfected (HEU) with mothers reporting antiretroviral therapy, and 18 (8%) were HEU with mothers not reporting antiretroviral therapy. HEU had lower MSEL Composite (? = -3.94, P = 0.03) and Gross Motor scores (? = -3.41, P = 0.01) than HU. Home Observation for Home Environment total score was positively associated with MSEL Composite (? = 0.81, P = 0.01), Receptive Language (? = 0.59, P = 0.001), and Expressive Language (? = 0.64, P = 0.01) scores. CONCLUSIONS:HIV exposure is associated with lower infant cognitive development scores. Increasing maternal quality of caregiving may improve early cognitive development.