Socioeconomic disadvantages and neural sensitivity to infant cry: Role of maternal distress

Pilyoung Kim, Christian Capistrano, Christina Congleton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations

Abstract

Socioeconomic disadvantage such as poverty can increase distress levels, which may further make low-income mothers more vulnerable to difficulties in the transition to parenthood. However, little is known about the neurobiological processes by which poverty and maternal distress are associated with risks for adaptations to motherhood. Thus, the current study examined the associations between income and neural responses to infant cry sounds among first-time new mothers (N1/428) during the early postpartum period. Lower income was associated with reduced responses to infant cry in the medial prefrontal gyrus (involved in evaluating emotional values of stimuli), middle prefrontal gyrus (involved in affective regulation) and superior temporal gyrus (involved in sensory information processing). When examining the role of maternal distress, we found a mediating role of perceived stress, but not depressive symptoms, in the links between income and prefrontal responses to infant cry. Reduced neural responses to infant cry in the right middle frontal gyrus and superior temporal gyrus were further associated with less positive perceptions of parenting. The results demonstrate that perceived stress associated with socioeconomic disadvantages may contribute to reduced neural responses to infant cry, which is further associated with less positive perceptions of motherhood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1597-1607
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Volume11
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author (2016). Published by Oxford University Press.

Keywords

  • Infant cry
  • Maternal brain
  • Neuroimaging
  • Perceived stress
  • Socioeconomic status

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