ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2019, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (6): 1072-1084.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2019.01072

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“Parental brain” network and its influential factors

ZHANG Huoyin, ZHANG Mingming, DING Rui, LI Shuaixia, LUO Wenbo()   

  1. Research Center of Brain and Cognitive Neuroscience, Liaoning Normal University, Dalian 116029, China
  • Received:2018-05-03 Online:2019-06-15 Published:2019-04-22
  • Contact: LUO Wenbo


The human parental brain could be defined as is the network of regions that support caregiving behaviors to identify and react to infant related stimuli (infant vocals and facial expressions). First, we reviewed the neural circuits that were demonstrated to be involved in establishing and maintaining parent-infant relationships, which included circuits for motivation-reward, empathy, emotion regulation and executive function. And the important brain areas incorporate the orbitofrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, anterior insula, amygdala, and supplementary motor area. Second, the current review summed that human parental brain is sensitive to multiple parenting determinants, including parenting abilities, parental hormones and psychopathology. The growth of parenting abilities and the improvement of oxytocin levels are beneficial to the processing for infant stimuli. Finally, several advices were proposed for future directions: 1) prospective and longitudinal studies across important transition periods for parenting; 2) describing the neural basis of male psychopathologies and exploring targeted interventions and treatments; 3) employing some advanced neuroscience technique (e.g., hyper scanning) to highlight the simultaneous neural activity between mother and father or parents and infants; and 4) conducting parental brain research in Chinese culture.

Key words: parental brain, parenting experience, oxytocin, psychopathology

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