Neural activation to infant cry among Latina and non-Latina White mothers

Özlü Aran, Tiffany Phu, Andrew Erhart, Sarah Watamura, Pilyoung Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cultural neuroscience is an emerging framework positing that culture (for example, values, beliefs, practices, and modes of emotional expression) critically informs socialization goals and desired behaviors, which are perhaps accompanied by differential patterns of brain activation. Using fMRI, the current study examines brain activation to infant cry stimuli and matched white noise among 50 first-time biological mothers identifying as Latina or White in the United States. Results showed that brain activation to infant cries in the right posterior insula, left cerebellum, and left auditory were higher for White mothers compared to Latina mothers, p's < .05. White mothers showed greater activation to cry sounds compared to white noise in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, left somatosensory, right and left premotor cortices, p's < .05, whereas Latina mothers did not. These brain regions are involved in motor planning, movement, sensory processing, and social information processing. It is important to note that mothers in the two groups did not show differences in stress and behavioral parenting measures. Therefore, Latina and White mothers differentially recruiting brain regions related to infant parenting behaviors indicates the potential role of cultural context in shaping patterns of neural activation. Our exploratory analysis suggests that this difference might be due to greater pre-parenting exposure among Latina mothers to children compared to White mothers. Taken together, although our data did not completely explain the differences in brain activation between groups, findings suggest potential culture-related influences in brain activation occurring in the postpartum period.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114298
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
StatePublished - 12 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023


  • Cultural neuroscience
  • Infant cry
  • Latina
  • Neuroimaging
  • Parenting


Dive into the research topics of 'Neural activation to infant cry among Latina and non-Latina White mothers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this