Date of Award
College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Psychology
fMRI, HPA axis, Maternal nonintrusiveness
Previous research indicated that maternal cortisol function and maternal brain response to infant stimuli are separately related to differences in parenting behavior. Evidence from animal models have demonstrated that chronically high cortisol concentration alters brain structure and function, suggesting that studying these two mechanisms together may further improve understanding of parental behavior in human mothers. First time mothers of infants aged 1-7 months old (M age = 3 months) were recruited to participate. Mother’s cortisol concentration was measured during a naturalistic interaction with their infant and their behavior was coded for maternal sensitivity and nonintrusiveness. In a separate session using fMRI, mothers listened to their own infant and a control infant crying. We demonstrated an association between mother’s average cortisol concentration and nonintrusive maternal behavior, but not maternal sensitivity, such that higher cortisol concentration was associated with more intrusive behavior. In the brain, we found in the right precentral gyrus, the left culmen extending into the left inferior temporal gyrus and fusiform, two clusters in the superior temporal gyrus, and in the medial frontal gyrus, greater cortisol concentration was associated with decreased activation to infant cry. We also found that activation in these regions to cry sounds was associated with maternal nonintrusiveness such that greater activation in these regions was associated with less intrusive behavior.
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Received from ProQuest
Erhart, Andrew, "Maternal HPA Axis Function During Parenting is Associated with Reduced Brain Activation to Infant Cry and More Intrusive Parenting Behavior" (2021). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1916.
Developmental psychology, Neurosciences, Endocrinology