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Lecture 12

PSYC23H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 12: P200, Inhibitory Control Test, Threat Model

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David Haley

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PSYC23 Developmental Psychobiology Clara Rebello
PSYC23 Lecture 12: Attention Bias to Infant Signals
There are several reasons a mother may feel ambivalent
o Donald W. Winnicott
He [the infant] is ruthless, treats her as scum, an unpaid servant, a slave.
He is suspicious, refuses her good food, and makes her doubt herself . . .
. . . [H]aving got what he wants, he throws her away like an orange peel.
o Huge challenge for parents to not react negatively to children
o Given how demanding an infant is, it takes a lot of cognitive resources to respond
accordingly, sensitively, and appropriately to the infant
Executive function (EF)
o Regulates, controls, and manages
thoughts and actions
o Evidence that the maternal brain
changes Gets cognitively wiser in
many ways
Better memory
Can do cognitive tasks a lot more
o Why would a mother need all these
cognitive processes for parenting?
Help define your goals
Working memory: Parent needs to keep track of recent caregiving events and
remember caregiving priorities in the face of competing demands for her
Inhibitory control: Parent needs to recognize automatic responses to
emotionally upsetting parent-child interactions and consider alternative
Selective and flexible attention: Parent needs to both focus and switch
attention while ignoring other competing pressures or signals
o Threat model helps compare cognitive aspects of parenting
You a’t freeze he ou’re approahed  a lio You want to make
associations; Use cognitive processes to protect yourself, such as shifting
attention to potential safe spots
o Mother’s theor of id is halleged he ifat deads for resoures
This is why inhibitory control is important
Paradox of infant signals
o About self-regulatio ad hat ou’re doig to trasfor a hild’s highl potet
Child’s rig a oe as a threat to parets
o Haig aious, irritated parets o’t help ifat lear to regulate his rig/eotios
Parents must react sensitively and appropriately so that not only they become
more successful in parenting, but so that infants can improve in self-regulation
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PSYC23 Developmental Psychobiology Clara Rebello
o Being too scared of a
threatening stimulus will not teach
you how to cope with the situation
o Evolutionary theory posits the
salience and power of infants to
grab attention
o Fast, automatic responses to
the infant cry and increased
motivation for physical proximity may also limit thoughtful responses and psychological
A Goldilocks model of attention bias to infants
o How much attention bias is a good thing?
o You a’t go oeroard ith attetio ias
You should be able to eventually disengage so that you can reflect on the
situation and determine what needs to be done
o Complete disengagement and too much control of your attention can be a problem
“eds off a You’re dead to e ie to the ifat
Sign of a psychological problem in the parent
Attention bias to infant face
o Greater attetio ias to the ifat’s distressed fae is assoiated ith feer ateral
depressive symptoms
Being depressed means having lesser attention bias
Greater attention bias can be an indicator of better mental health in the parent
Ho ifats reat to this a e geeralized to ho the’ll reat i real orld
o Greater attetio ias to the ifat’s eotioal fae is assoiated with less parenting
Does attention bias to infant face affect maternal mental health?
o N = 40 women. Mean age = 32.32 years. 75% prima various
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PSYC23 Developmental Psychobiology Clara Rebello
o Two lab visits Prenatal visit (3rd trimester) and postnatal visit (3 to 4 months
o Infant is the distractor, the target is the vertical line
o Attention bias to infant
A modified version of a Go No-Go task
Reaction time (RT) scores on infant distractor trials were subtracted from adult
distractor trials.
o Anxiety measured using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory-Trait Version (STAI-T)
o This is a great measure of how easily distracted a parent is
How does the parent react when they are aware of the presence of the
o Woe ho did’t respod too slol had less etal proles
Infant cries rattle adult cognition
o Study looks at auditory stimuli elicited by infants, such as crying and laughing
o Same attention bias and distractor approach How well can you still focus on your
cognitive tasks while being aware of these auditory distractors?
o P200 Cortial proess that’s supposed to shift our attetio to a eotioal
stimulus in the environment
o N450 Later ogitie proess that’s supposed to reflet our ailit to reruit our
cognitive processes
Also reflects ability to determine a solution to a situation
Very active during Stroop tasks i hih ou’re eig gie lots of ogitie
information like colours to process (B) This region is the most active when
doing these sorts of tasks
How do infant cries and laughs modulate attention?
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