Infants of depressed mothers exhibit atypical frontal electrical brain activity during interactions with mother and with a familiar, nondepressed adult

Geraldine Dawson, Karin Frey, Heracles Panagiotides, Emily Yamada, David R Hessl, Julie Osterling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

108 Scopus citations

Abstract

Previous studies have shown that infants of depressed mothers exhibit atypical frontal brain electrical activity when they are interacting with their mothers. Whereas typically developing infants exhibit greater left versus right frontal brain activity, infants of depressed mothers have been found to exhibit reduced relative left frontal activity. The left frontal brain region has been associated with the expression of positive emotions. In the present study, the question of whether the atypical pattern of brain activity found in infants of depressed mothers generalizes to situations not involving mother was addressed. Brain electrical activity was recorded from 13- to 15-month-old infants of depressed (N = 59) versus nondepressed (N = 40) mothers during a baseline condition, and during several social conditions that included a playful social interaction with a familiar experimenter. Infants of depressed mothers exhibited reduced left relative to right frontal activity during the baseline condition, and during interactions with their mothers and with the familiar experimenter. The present results suggest that the atypical pattern of electrical brain activity found in infants of depressed mothers generalizes to a variety of situations, including positive interactions with nondepressed adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1058-1066
Number of pages9
JournalChild Development
Volume70
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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