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The Cultural Nature of AttachmentContextualizing Relationships and Development$
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Heidi Keller and Kim A. Bard

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780262036900

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262036900.001.0001

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Neural Consequences of Infant Attachment

Neural Consequences of Infant Attachment

(p.231) 9 Neural Consequences of Infant Attachment
The Cultural Nature of Attachment

Margaret A. Sheridan

Kim A. Bard

The MIT Press

Typical studies of the impact of the quality and presence of attachment relationships on child development have focused on the child’s safe-base behavior. In terms of neurobiology, this has primarily led to investigations of the child’s control over negative affect. In nonhuman primates, early investigations into the neurobiological consequences of attachment used models where attachment relationships were absent or severely curtailed. Institutionalization of infants, a common practice, mirrors these early primate studies since attachment relationships are limited or absent. These investigations are based on models of disruptions in attachment and used here to illustrate the impact of attachment relationships on two neural systems not typically considered: the neural substrates of reward learning and the neural substrates supporting complex cognitive function such as executive function. While attachment is central to the development of negative affect regulation, it is argued that the context in which the brain develops can also serve as an additional focus of early attachment relationships. This offers insight into the multiple functions served by attachment, and thus the role it plays in the development of other neural systems.

Keywords:   Strüngmann Forum Reports, attachment, early experience, adversity, neurodevelopment, deprivation, learning processes

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