Adult attachment styles associated with brain activity in response to infant faces in nulliparous women: An event-related potentials study

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Abstract

© 2017 Ma, Ran, Chen, Ma and Hu. Adult attachment style is a key for understanding emotion regulation and feelings of security in human interactions as well as for the construction of the caregiving system. The caregiving system is a group of representations about affiliative behaviors, which is guided by the caregiver's sensitivity and empathy, and is mature in young adulthood. Appropriate perception and interpretation of infant emotions is a crucial component of the formation of a secure attachment relationship between infant and caregiver. As attachment styles influence the ways in which people perceive emotional information, we examined how different attachment styles associated with brain response to the perception of infant facial expressions in nulliparous females with secure, anxious, and avoidant attachment styles. The event-related potentials of 65 nulliparous females were assessed during a facial recognition task with joy, neutral, and crying infant faces. The results showed that anxiously attached females exhibited larger N170 amplitudes than those with avoidant attachment in response to all infant faces. Regarding the P300 component, securely attached females showed larger amplitudes to all infant faces in comparison with avoidantly attached females. Moreover, anxiously attached females exhibited greater amplitudes than avoidantly attached females to only crying infant faces. In conclusion, the current results provide evidence that attachment style differences are associated with brain responses to the perception of infant faces. Furthermore, these findings further separate the psychological mechanisms underlying the caregiving behavior of those with anxious and avoidant attachment from secure attachment.

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Ma, Y., Ran, G., Chen, X., Ma, H., & Hu, N. (2017). Adult attachment styles associated with brain activity in response to infant faces in nulliparous women: An event-related potentials study. Frontiers in Psychology, 8(APR). https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00627

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