A lowered and heightened synchrony between the mother's and infant's nonverbal behavior predicts adverse infant development. We know that maternal depressive symptoms predict lowered and heightened mother-infant gaze synchrony, but it is unclear whether maternal emotion dysregulation is related to mother-infant gaze synchrony. This cross-sectional study examined whether maternal emotion dysregulation in mothers with mood disorders is significantly related to mother-infant gaze synchrony. We also tested whether maternal emotion dysregulation is relatively more important than maternal depressive symptoms in predicting mother-infant gaze synchrony, and whether maternal emotion dysregulation mediates the relation between maternal depressive symptoms and mother-infant gaze synchrony. We observed 68 mothers and their 4- to 9-month-old infants in the Still-Face paradigm during two play interactions, before and after social stress was induced. The mothers' and infants' gaze behaviors were coded using microanalysis with the Maternal Regulatory Scoring System and Infant Regulatory Scoring System, respectively. The degree of motherinfant gaze synchrony was computed using time-series analysis. Maternal emotion dysregulation was measured by the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale; depressive symptoms were assessed using the Beck Depression Inventory. Greater maternal emotion dysregulation was significantly related to heightened mother-infant gaze synchrony. The overall effect of maternal emotion dysregulation on mother-infant gaze synchrony was relatively more important than the effect of maternal depressive symptoms in the five tested models. Maternal emotion dysregulation fully mediated the relation between maternal depressive symptoms and mother-infant gaze synchrony. Our findings suggest that the effect of the mother's depressive symptoms on the mother-infant gaze synchrony may be mediated by the mother's emotion dysregulation.
Lotzin, A., Romer, G., Schiborr, J., Noga, B., Schulte-Markwort, M., & Ramsauer, B. (2015). Gaze Synchrony between Mothers with Mood Disorders and Their Infants: Maternal Emotion Dysregulation Matters. PLoS ONE, 10(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0144417