Functional anatomy of parenting

Authors: F. Koukolík
Authors‘ workplace: Oddělení patologie a molekulární medicíny ;  Národní referenční laboratoř prionových chorob ;  Thomayerova nemocnice, Praha ;  Primář: doc. MUDr. Radoslav Matěj, PhD.
Published in: Prakt. Lék. 2013; 93(5): 199-206
Category: Editorial


Infant survival and the development of secure relationships with the caregiver and then other people are fundamental to survival in the human species. This process relies on the evolving early parent-infant social and affective relationship. An infant’s basic orientation and recognition processes begin in the first postpartum hours and culminate in an infant’s attainment of higher socio-emotional and cognitive capacities: theory of mind and empathy. Attachment theory (Bowlby, Ainsworth) is rooted in the etological notion that a newborn child is “programmed” by biological evolution to seek proximity with caregivers. The infant and the caregiver develop an internal working model that reflects their mutual attachment. Ainsworth developed the experimental Strange Situation Protocol that can be used to assess infant patterns of attachment to their caregiver. Three such patterns exist: secure, insecure and disorganized attachment. Attachment activates brain responses in systems related to emotions and empathy. There is a functional neuroanatomy of maternal love, which is different from functional neuroanatomy of romantic love. Attachment pattern develops into adulthood: there are four patterns of adult attachment. Adult physical illness can be predicted from infant attachments. So-called “extended form of attachment” is important for human cooperation. The ancient mechanisms supporting basic forms of attachment enable the unique human ability to attach to cultural objects.

infant – attachment – parenting – love – brain


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