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David Haley (105)


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University of Toronto Scarborough
David Haley

March 1, 2011 - is there anything biological that helps parents parent - any useful mechanisms that equip parents to parent - onset of parenting potentially could involve huge major biological shifts – cortical reorganization o studies that show adults having plasticity- changes in brain – when we become experts of something, there is physical change in the brain London Taxi Study - crazy streets in london’s organization, thus becoming an expert requires a lot - hippocampus = navigation, keeping track of spatial relationships - compared taxi cab drivers to normal population  hippocampus was bigger in certain areas o evidence that experience sculpts and changes specific parts of the brain used for specific tasks – brain like a muscle - similar studies w/expert musicians - think about it in terms of becoming a parent - (ALSO)  huge changes in hormones during pregnancy Maternal Brain Circuit - possible that our brains may be changing rapidly, structurally - operations and functions of that brain tissue may be changing as well - hormones can change connections + number of synapses that are maintained produced in the brain (what we already knew before we realized that experience of doing something can cause structural changes) - rise in oxytocin during pregnancy can predict how you parent Parent Coritisol Inconsistent - 3 trimester = amount of cortisol negatively predicts parenting behav - relationship between cortisol and behaviour is not always the same - we knew: more cortisol = less oxytocin = worse parenting - opposing point on slide - more cortisol at rest = parents like the smell of child more, show greater sympathy to child’s cry (motivational) - distinguishing challenge  when does cortisol go from helpful to negative Maternal Cortisol and Materal Responsiveness in Yellow Baboons - Flemming: more cortisol = more responsiveness to child, changes prenatally and postnatally - not only shown in humans - fecal gluccocorticoids (cortisol )  in animals, measured in feces, in humans measured by saliva - prenatally  more mothers had more cortisol, the more responsive they would be to their offspring (positive relationship – chart on the left) - postnatally  how much cortisol in feces doesn’t predict behav (still positive, trend, but not significant – chart on right) Specific Types of Parent Behav Parenting - parent responsiveness = Mirror A and B - watching and parent responsiveness = smallest time amount of time spent on this - attention eliciting (getting child’s attention) = largest amount of time spent - keep this in mind when thinking about relationship between cortisol and parent Prototypical Parent-Infant Interaction Profile - Dyad A – fair amount of responsiveness, child gets upset and they stop responsiveness and change to attention eliciting - Dyad B – predominantly attention eliciting, after child gets upset = switch to responsiveness Maternal Cortisol - when interacting with child = all parents show dramatic decrease in cortisol - thus, interacting with child is good for the parent Associations about Variables - not much relationship between cortisol and parents watching/attention eliciting - only significance is with cortisol and parental responsiveness (have higher levels of cortisol before, and have higher responsiveness) – and change during interaction? - some parents are low on baseline cortisol and they don’t change during interaction - parent sitting in chair – having higher basal cortisol makes you potentially more responsive to child Contingent Responsiveness by Infant Affect - high positive affect = parent is able to be more responsive to them Attention Eliciting by Infant - child is happy = less attention eliciting compared to child with low positive affect (still a lot though) Maternal Cortisol - higher baseline, bigger drop in stress level after interacting in child = high positive affect Contingent Responsiveness - child with low positive affect – how contingent you are to that child doesn’t differ by your basal level of cortisol - parents with high basal cortisol AND kid with high positive affect = magic combination for being the most responsive to the child Summary about Parents - high basal cortisol + happy kid = predicts the most parent responsiveness - positive side of cortisol  having plenty of it associated with more contingent interactions with child… shows one way that biology
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