Neuro Harlow: The Effect Of A Mother's Touch On Her Child's Developing Brain

Posted on July 29, 2016

Now this line of research has entered the neuroscience era with a study in Cerebral Cortex claiming that children with more tactile mothers tend to have more developed social brains.

Jens Brauer and his colleagues videoed 43 mum-child dyads as they sat together on a couch and played with a Playmobil Farm. The mothers knew they were being filmed but didn't know the aims of the study. There were 24 boys and 19 girls and their average age was 5.5 years. Coders then watched back the videos and counted every instance that the mothers touched their child or vice versa. Finally and within the next two weeks, the researchers scanned each child's brain while they lay as still as possible looking at a lava lamp screensaver (a brain imaging technique known as a resting-state scan).

The researchers were particularly interested in levels of resting activity in the children's brains in a network of areas known to be involved in functions such as empathy and thinking about other people's mental states – sometimes referred to as the "social brain". They found that the children who were touched more by their mother in the ten-minute play session tended to have more resting activity in the social brain, especially the right superior temporal sulcus (STS). Children who received more touch also showed more resting connectivity between different functional nodes within their social brain, such as between the STS and the inferior frontal gyrus and the left insula.

Children touched more by their mother also usually touched their mothers more, but the links between mothers' touch and the children's neural activity were still significant after factoring this out.

To read the full article, click the link below.


Category(s):Child Development

Source material from BPS Research Digest


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