Document Detail


The development and neurobiology of infant attachment and fear.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  22571921     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Abstract/OtherAbstract:
Survival of altricial infants depends on attachment to the caregiver - a process that requires infants to identify, learn, remember, and approach their attachment figure. Here we review the neurobiology of attachment in infant rats where learning about the caregiver is supported by a specialized attachment neural circuitry to promote the infant-caregiver relationship. Specifically, the attachment circuit relies on infants acquiring learned preferences to the maternal odor, and this behavior is supported by the hyperfunctioning locus coeruleus and generous amounts of norepinephrine to produce experience-induced changes in the olfactory bulb and anterior piriform cortex. Infants also possess a reduced ability to acquire learned aversions or fear, and this behavior is facilitated through attenuated amygdala plasticity to block fear learning. Presumably, this attachment circuitry constrains the infant animal to express only learned preferences regardless of the quality of care received. As pups mature, and begin to travel in and out of the nest, the specialized attachment learning becomes contextually confined to when pups are with the mother. Thus, when outside the nest, these older pups show learning more typical of adult learning, presumably to prepare for independent life outside the nest. The quality of attachment can alter this circuitry, with early life stress prematurely terminating the pups' access to the attachment system through premature functional activation of the amygdala. Overall, the attachment circuit appears to have a dual function: to keep pups close to the caregiver but also to shape pups' behavior to match the environment and define long-term emotion and cognition.
Authors:
Margo S Landers; Regina M Sullivan
Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.; Review     Date:  2012-05-08
Journal Detail:
Title:  Developmental neuroscience     Volume:  34     ISSN:  1421-9859     ISO Abbreviation:  Dev. Neurosci.     Publication Date:  2012  
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2012-09-20     Completed Date:  2013-02-22     Revised Date:  2013-06-25    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  7809375     Medline TA:  Dev Neurosci     Country:  Switzerland    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  101-14     Citation Subset:  IM    
Copyright Information:
Copyright © 2012 S. Karger AG, Basel.
Affiliation:
Emotional Brain Institute, Nathan Kline Institute, Orangeburg, N.Y., USA.
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MeSH Terms
Descriptor/Qualifier:
Amygdala / physiology
Animals
Fear / physiology*
Learning / physiology*
Maternal Behavior / physiology*
Object Attachment*
Odors
Olfactory Bulb / physiology*
Rats
Grant Support
ID/Acronym/Agency:
DC009910/DC/NIDCD NIH HHS; MH091451/MH/NIMH NIH HHS; R01 DC009910/DC/NIDCD NIH HHS; R01 MH091451/MH/NIMH NIH HHS
Comments/Corrections

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