Mothers' Neural and Behavioral Responses to Their Infants' Distress Cues: The Role of Secure Base Script Knowledge.Psychol Sci. 2018 02; 29(2):242-253.PS
This research examined mothers' secure base script knowledge-reflected in the ability to generate narratives in which attachment-relevant problems are recognized, competent help is offered, and problems are resolved-and its significance for early-stage processing of infants' distress cues, using event-related potentials in an emotion oddball task. Mothers with lower secure base script knowledge exhibited (a) a heightened P3b response-reflective of greater allocation of cognitive resources-to their infants' distressed (but not happy) target facial expressions; (b) a larger P3b response to their infants' distressed (compared with happy) target facial expressions, which is indicative of allocating disproportional attentional resources to processing their infants' distress; and (c) poorer accuracy in identifying their infants' distressed target facial expressions. Findings suggest that mothers' attachment-relevant biases in processing their infants' emotion cues are especially tied to infant distress and shed light on underlying mechanisms linking mothers' attachment representations with sensitive responding to infant distress.