A face a mother could love: Depression-related maternal neural responses to infant emotion faces

Heidemarie K. Laurent, Jennifer C. Ablow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

Depressed mothers show negatively biased responses to their infants' emotional bids, perhaps due to faulty processing of infant cues. This study is the first to examine depression-related differences in mothers' neural response to their own infant's emotion faces, considering both effects of perinatal depression history and current depressive symptoms. Primiparous mothers (n = 22), half of whom had a history of major depressive episodes (with one episode occurring during pregnancy and/or postpartum), were exposed to images of their own and unfamiliar infants' joy and distress faces during functional neuroimaging. Group differences (depression vs. no-depression) and continuous effects of current depressive symptoms were tested in relation to neural response to own infant emotion faces. Compared to mothers with no psychiatric diagnoses, those with depression showed blunted responses to their own infant's distress faces in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex. Mothers with higher levels of current symptomatology showed reduced responses to their own infant's joy faces in the orbitofrontal cortex and insula. Current symptomatology also predicted lower responses to own infant joy-distress in left-sided prefrontal and insula/striatal regions. These deficits in self-regulatory and motivational response circuits may help explain parenting difficulties in depressed mothers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)228-239
Number of pages12
JournalSocial neuroscience
Volume8
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Development
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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