Asymmetric Correlation between Experienced Parental Attachment and Event-Related Potentials Evoked in Response to Parental Faces

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Abstract

This study aims to explore the modulation effects of attachment relationships with parents on the neural correlates that are associated with parental faces. The event-related potentials elicited in 31 college students while viewing facial stimuli of their parents in two single oddball paradigms (father vs. unfamiliar male and mother vs. unfamiliar female) were measured. We found that enhanced P3a and P3b and attenuated N2b were elicited by parental faces; however, the N170 component failed to discriminate parental faces from unfamiliar faces. An experienced attachment relationship with the father was positively correlated to the P3a response associated with the father's face, whereas no correlation was found in the case of mothers. Further exploration in dipole source localization showed that, within the time window of the P300, distinctive brain regions were involved in the processing of parental faces; the father's face was located in the medial frontal gyrus, which might be involved in self effect, and the anterior cingulate gyrus was activated in response to the mother's face. This research is the first to demonstrate that neural mechanisms involved with parents can be modulated differentially by the qualities of the attachments to the parents. In addition, parental faces share a highly similar temporal pattern, but the origins of these neural responses are distinct, which could merit further investigation. © 2013 Dai et al.

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Dai, J., Zhai, H., Zhou, A., Gong, Y., & Luo, L. (2013). Asymmetric Correlation between Experienced Parental Attachment and Event-Related Potentials Evoked in Response to Parental Faces. PLoS ONE, 8(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0068795

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