Mothers Who Were Neglected in Childhood Show Differences in Neural Response to Their Infant’s Cry

Dorianne B. Wright, Heidemarie K. Laurent, Jennifer C. Ablow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The present study used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate how a mother’s experience of neglect in her own childhood is associated with her neural response to her infant’s distress cues. During scanning, 22 high-risk primiparous mothers were exposed to both their own 18-month-old infant’s cry sound and a control sound. Mothers’ continuous Neglect subscale scores from the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire were examined as a predictor of their neural response to own infant cry > control sound. Mothers who reported high levels of neglect from childhood showed regions of hyperactivation to their infant’s cry (relative to control sound) in the anterior and posterior cingulate cortices and insula as well as specific prefrontal (precentral gyrus) and parietal (posterior supramarginal gyrus) areas. These results may suggest how important early life experiences are for future parenting responses and behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-166
Number of pages9
JournalChild Maltreatment
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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