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University of Toronto Scarborough
David Haley

The formation of affiliative bonds, defined as selective and enduring attachments, draws on multiple genetic, horomonal, brain, autonomic, epigenetic, behavioral, and mental markers that coordinate to form the parent-infant bond, which serves as the central vehicle for evolutionary adaptation and has been the focus of inquiry in fields ranging from neuroscience to epistemology. biobehavioral synchrony between the physiology and behavior of attachment partners in three physiological systems: autonomic reactivity, affiliative hormones, and brain activations three important issues in the study of parenting: what is optimal parenting, what is culture specific, and what are the potential avenues for intervention Conceptually, our theory is based on three main approaches. The first is the writings of the early Ethologists (Lorenz, 1950; Timbergen, 1963), which provided the basis for Bowlby's (1969) seminal formulations on the attachment system and the more recent applications of evolutionary models to the study of parenting (Carter et al., 2005). demonstrated that during periods of bond formation a major bio-behavioral reorganization occurs in the parents' physiology and behavior that leads to heightened sensitivity to infant cues, prepares parents to the difficult task of infant care, and gives rise to the expression of a unique set of species-specific behaviors that are critical for infant growth and adaptation to the eco-social niche Over time and repeated experience parent and child become sensitized to the unique physiological and behavioral cues of the partner, particularly to its intensity, rhythms, and temporal qualities, leading to the formation of a unique affiliative bond (Fleming et al., 1999). Such coordination between parent and infant's social behavior, parent and infant's ongoing physiology, and between the physiology of one and the behavior of the other and vice versa charts the four-channel matrix of the parent-infant bio-behavioral synchrony. Bowlby advocated a bottom-up approach that is based on micro-level observations of maternal behavior, thereby revolutionizing thinking in the study of human relatedness. According to such ethological-based model, one may argue that behavior is not just central to parenting but that parenting is behavior – or repeatedly-executed sets of specific behaviors of varying goals, rhythms, intensities, frequencies, and durations Parent’s behavior is the only phenomenon directly available to the infant, and only through the interface of synchronous behavioral exchanges, the parent's physiology and mental state can impact the infant's biological organization and emerging consciousness It has been long postulated that the evolution of mammals implied that mammalian young receive their training for social reciprocity not within the large group-as is the case, for instance, with the social insects-but in the context of the nursing dyad As such, the experience of parent-infant reciprocity is the central context in which the human infants can learn to become a collaborative member of society, develop empathy, form a prosocial approach, and practice intimacy The second perspective which provides support for our biobehavioral approach is Edelmas's (2004) theory of neural Darwinism. According to this model, which shaped current thought in neuroscience (Damasio, 2003; Llineas, 2001), synchrony is the mechanism that underlies consciousness and enables the brain to form a unitary event out of the simultaneous activity in discrete brain regions without postulating a "central organizer" or resorting to the Cartesian rift between body and mind. Our conscious experiences are unitary events assembled of discrete components that synchronize in time, are "situated" within a present moment, and are "in relationship" with parameters of the context. The centrality of time and synchrony for the organization of brain activity is echoed in Llineas' words (2001, page 120): "timeness is consciousness" and complements the bottom-up Ethological approach to bonding. Finally, the third perspective draws from phenomenological philosophy, particularly the work of Husserl (1977), which suggested that any "objective" perception of reality is composed of the relations between observer and phenomenon, thus highlighting the inherently relational nature of human mind; the writing of Bergson (1907),that address "present moment" and its experiential attributes, and Merleau-Ponty (1945), who emphasized the embededness of the human mind in concrete time-locked sensory experiences. Post-Partum Parental Behavior and the Development of Synchrony across the Lifespan In humans, the maternal behavioral repertoire includes gaze at infant face and body, "motherese" vocalizations, the expression of positive affect, and affectionate touch, the human parallel to "licking-and-grooming" in other mammals Early maternal behaviors are also linked with the activation of brain networks, affiliative hormones, and autonomic response that connect mother and newborn's physiology and behavior. During the third month of life, infants become active participants in the social world and synchrony in its "true" format is first observed, with mother and infant each creating personal patterns of non-verbal behaviors in the gaze, affect, vocal, and touch modalities that cohere into repetitive-rhythmic patterns and are matched concurrently or within lags of few seconds (Feldman, 2007a). At this age, mothers and fathers co-create a distinct types of synchrony with the infant, with maternal synchrony being more cyclic and socially-oriented while paternal synchrony oriented toward the outside world and encourages exploration (Feldman, 2003). Between three and nine months the experience of affective matching is critical for infant growth and predicts children's prosocial and moral orientation, self-regulation, attachment security, and social competence in research spanning from infancy to adolescence During the second six months, with the emergence of intentionality, infants also begin to follow the mother's affective patterns and interactions become more truly Reciprocal Finally, with the development of symbolic thought and language, interactions between parents and children develop along two parallel lines; one nonverbal underlying line maintains the dyad-specific patterns of affect synchrony, and the second line emerging on the top of the first involves verbal coordination between the child's symbolic expression and the parent's reciprocal expansion, with both lines guided by the same temporal pattern (Feldman, 2007c, d) We found affect synchrony in the interactions of parents and adolescents, close friends, and romantic partners, and the experience of synchrony in each relationship was similarly supported by autonomic reactivity, affiliative hormones, and brain activation, indicating that the biological basis of synchrony continues throughout life we found that higher levels of physical proximity among Palestinian parents and affectionate touch and affect synchrony among Israeli parents at five months were each predicted preschoolers' self-regulation in kindergarten in the respective culture but levels of self regulation were comparable, suggesting that culture-typical patterns of synchrony chart unique pathways to the attainment of developmental milestones High risk parenting is related to either excessive maternal behavior, which overrides the infant's signals, or the deprivation of maternal behavior, which does not construct a synchronous exchange. Excessive maternal behavior is typically associated with maternal anxiety whereas minimal matern
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