Adult attachment and the brain

  • Coan J
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Abstract

Individuals in adult attachment relationships regulate one another via overt emotional and social behavior. Attachmentrelated styles of utilizing social support moderate these regulatory effects. In recent years, the social and affective neurosciences have begun to clarify how these processes are instantiated in the brain, including the likely neural mechanisms of long-term felt security following past attachment experiences and the neural circuitry supporting the regulation of emotion by relational partners. In this brief review, I describe the neural systems involved in the formation and maintenance of adult attachment relationships and review the small amount of work to date on the neuroscience of adult attachment style. I then offer my own speculations about how adult attachment relationships conserve the brain’s metabolic resources, especially those of the prefrontal cortex.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Attachment
  • Brain
  • Emotion regulation
  • Relationships

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Authors

  • James A. Coan

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