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Research Article

A Specific and Rapid Neural Signature for Parental Instinct

  • Morten L. Kringelbach mail,

    *E-mail: Morten.Kringelbach@psych.ox.ac.uk

    Affiliations: Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom, Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom, Department of Neurosurgery, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, United Kingdom, Center of Functionally Integrative Neuroscience (CFIN), Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark

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  • Annukka Lehtonen,

    Affiliation: Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom

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  • Sarah Squire,

    Affiliation: Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom

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  • Allison G. Harvey,

    Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, California, United States of America

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  • Michelle G. Craske,

    Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, United States of America

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  • Ian E. Holliday,

    Affiliation: The Wellcome Trust Laboratory for MEG Studies, School of Life and Health Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham, United Kingdom

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  • Alexander L. Green,

    Affiliation: Department of Neurosurgery, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, United Kingdom

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  • Tipu Z. Aziz,

    Affiliations: Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom, Department of Neurosurgery, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, United Kingdom

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  • Peter C. Hansen,

    Affiliation: School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom

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  • Piers L. Cornelissen,

    Affiliation: Department of Psychology, York University, York, United Kingdom

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  • Alan Stein

    Affiliation: Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom

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  • Published: February 27, 2008
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0001664

Reader Comments (2)

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Elegant design...underscores importance of early time-points

Posted by childress_a on 01 Mar 2008 at 17:00 GMT

This study features an elegant design that controls for the effects of familiarity in earlier imaging studies of infant faces. It yields good evidence on a long-discussed topic: there is, indeed, something special (rewarding, in the medial-OFC sense of the word) about infant faces, even when they are not one’s own children, for many adult humans.

How this rapid, primal response varies in the context of other adult human problems (e.g., post-partum depression, addictions, anti-social personality disorder) is now opened for investigation.

The study also underscores the importance of very early time-points in the brain response to probe stimuli. The observed early difference between the brain responses to infant vs. adult faces in the current study would not have been detected with early imaging technologies. The results are thus a strong ‘advertisement’ for the exquisite temporal sensitivity of MEG!

Anna Rose Childress, Ph.D.
Brain-Behavioral Vulnerabilities Division
Penn-VA Addiction Treatment Research Center
Department of Psychiatry
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Philadelphia, PA. 19104-6178
USA