The many faces of human caregiving

Perspective on flexibility of the parental brain, hormonal systems, and parenting behaviors and their long-term implications for child development

Authored by: Eyal Abraham , Ruth Feldman

Routledge International Handbook of Social Neuroendocrinology

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  October  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138711440
eBook ISBN: 9781315200439
Adobe ISBN:


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In this chapter, we survey and integrate current understanding on the human parental brain with a focus on the significant neural flexibility and great hormonal and behavioral variability that characterize human caregiving. Variations of parents’ neural and hormonal response to infant cues will be discussed along six lines: (1) normative variations in mother-infant interactions, (2) maternal adversity, (3) gender differences in parental role and caregiving experiences, (4) adoptive parenting, (5) normative variations in coparental styles, and (6) effects on children’s neurobiological and behavioral development. The chapter concludes by highlighting the importance of focusing on a “two-person neuroscience” approach to further understand how parent’s neural and endocrine systems provide the first template that introduces children to the social world and shapes their social adaptation throughout life.

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