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Open AccessArticle

Neural Responses to Infant Emotions and Emotional Self-Awareness in Mothers and Fathers during Pregnancy

1
Department of Dynamic and Clinical Psychology, “Sapienza” University of Rome, 00185 Rome, Italy
2
Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies, CNR, 00185 Rome, Italy
3
Department of Social and Developmental Psychology, “Sapienza” University of Rome, 00185 Rome, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(9), 3314; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17093314
Received: 10 April 2020 / Revised: 7 May 2020 / Accepted: 7 May 2020 / Published: 9 May 2020
Neuroscientific research has largely investigated the neurobiological correlates of maternal and (to a much lesser extent) paternal responsiveness in the post-partum period. In contrast, much less is known about the neural processing of infant emotions during pregnancy. Twenty mothers and 19 fathers were recruited independently during the third trimester of pregnancy. High-density electroencephalography (hdEEG) was recorded while expectant parents passively viewed images representing distressed, ambiguous, happy, and neutral faces of unknown infants. Correlational analyses were performed to detect a link between neural responses to infant facial expressions and emotional self-awareness. In response to infant emotions, mothers and fathers showed similar cerebral activity in regions involved in high-order socio-affective processes. Mothers and fathers also showed different brain activity in premotor regions implicated in high-order motor control, in occipital regions involved in visuo-spatial information processing and visual mental imagery, as well as in inferior parietal regions involved in attention allocation. Low emotional self-awareness negatively correlated with activity in parietal regions subserving empathy in mothers, while it positively correlated with activity in temporal and occipital areas implicated in mentalizing and visual mental imagery in fathers. This study may enlarge knowledge on the neural response to infant emotions during pregnancy. View Full-Text
Keywords: pregnancy; mothers and fathers; emotional self-awareness; infant emotions; hdEEG pregnancy; mothers and fathers; emotional self-awareness; infant emotions; hdEEG
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MDPI and ACS Style

Trentini, C.; Pagani, M.; Lauriola, M.; Tambelli, R. Neural Responses to Infant Emotions and Emotional Self-Awareness in Mothers and Fathers during Pregnancy. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 3314. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17093314

AMA Style

Trentini C, Pagani M, Lauriola M, Tambelli R. Neural Responses to Infant Emotions and Emotional Self-Awareness in Mothers and Fathers during Pregnancy. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020; 17(9):3314. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17093314

Chicago/Turabian Style

Trentini, Cristina; Pagani, Marco; Lauriola, Marco; Tambelli, Renata. 2020. "Neural Responses to Infant Emotions and Emotional Self-Awareness in Mothers and Fathers during Pregnancy" Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 17, no. 9: 3314. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17093314

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Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

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