Autonomic and brain electrical activity in securely- and insecurely-attached infants of depressed mothers


Journal Article

The present study examined the combined influences of maternal depression and attachment security on infants' brain activity and autonomic activity. Brain electrical activity, heart rate, and vagal tone were recorded from 159 13-15 month old infants of depressed, subthreshold depressed, and nondepressed mothers during a baseline and two social interaction conditions. Attachment behavior was observed during the traditional Strange Situation. It was found that infants of depressed mothers exhibited reduced left relative to right frontal brain activity during all conditions. Moreover, regardless of mother's depression status, insecurely attached infants exhibited relative reduced left frontal brain activity. Infants of depressed mothers were also found to exhibit higher heart rates across all conditions. These results indicate that both maternal depression and attachment security are associated with alterations in infants' psychophysiological responses. © 2001 Elsevier Science Inc.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Dawson, G; Ashman, SB; Hessl, D; Spieker, S; Frey, K; Panagiotides, H; Embry, L

Published Date

  • February 1, 2001

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 24 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 135 - 149

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0163-6383

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/S0163-6383(01)00075-3

Citation Source

  • Scopus