SEPTEMBER 2013 • MONITOR ON PSYCHOLOGY 31
perspective, in order to understand how
it works and how it functions.
What’s next for you and your lab?
The fMRI approaches that I mentioned
allow you to peer into the brain and
see which regions and networks are
activated — this is a spatial view. One
approach we are pursuing in the near
term asks instead about the temporal
domain, and stages of information
processing in parents’ and infants’ brains.
In one study, mothers brought 3-
and 6-month infants to the lab. We took
pictures of both the infants and the
mothers and then hooked each up to
an EEG net that allows us to monitor
activity at the scalp. We analyzed
mothers’ responses to the faces of their
infants versus similar looking infants,
and infants’ responses to their mothers
versus similar-looking adult females.
We found that, by the time a baby is 3
months of age, mothers’ brains have
become attuned to the faces of their
infants, and infants’ brains to their
In the longer term, we are interested
in studying whether and how the brains
of teen moms, as well as atypical —
depressed, abusing and neglecting —
parents, and dads, may be similar to or
different from one another and how they
relate to actual parenting practices. n
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