Mother-infant interactions were examined to see if a mother’s positive and negative emotions have an effect on her and her child’s brain waves.
Our social interactions can be influential to our wellbeing. Certain brain regions are highly associated with emotional processing. The fronto-limbic network is involved in emotional processing, while the basal ganglia are associated with recognizing facial and vocal expressions.
In a study published by NeuroImage, researchers examined mother-infant pairs to test the power that mothers’ emotions have on their infants and their connection to their infants.
During the study, objects were used that had not been previously used by the infants, ensuring that there was no emotional attachment between the infant and the object. Mothers held up pairs of objects and associated a positive or negative emotion with them, through the mothers’ tone of voice and facial expressions. Mother-infant brain connectivity was then assessed using dual electroencephalograhy (EEG) to examine brain waves.
The study reported that mother-infant pairs had synchronized brain waves. When a mother showed positive emotions, a much more powerful mother-infant brain connection developed compared with negative emotions. This sort of connection brings positivity to the infant and allows easy transfer of information, stimulating learning within the infant. Negative emotions were associated with a weakened mother-infant connection.
These results highlight the importance of mother-infant interactions and how positive and negative emotions can affect their relationship, emotions, and the infant’s ability to learn. Based on the results of this study, the researchers believe that a depressed mother may negatively affect her child’s learning.
Written by Laura Laroche, HBASc, Medical Writer
Santamaria, Lorena. “Emotional valence modulates the topology of the parent-infant inter-brain network”. NeuroImage. 2019. Online.
Mothers’ and babies’ brains ‘more in tune’ when mother is happy. 2019, https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-12/uoc-mab121719.php, assessed Dec. 19th, 2019.
Image by Tim Kraaijvanger from Pixabay