Title: On the Role of Maternal Touch for Child Social Development
Abstract: Extant research in non-human animals has revealed that maternal touch influences offsprings’ social behavior by shaping the development of neural systems involved in social processing. We asked whether maternal touch could play a similar role in humans. As a first experimental step towards addressing this question, we recorded tactile interactions between mothers and their 4-6 year old children (N=42) in a structured 10 minute play session. Following this session, the child completed a short behavioral task assessing social sensitivity. In the social sensitivity task, the child categorized geometrical objects overlaid on distractor images of faces or houses. Social sensitivity was quantified as increased distraction by faces relative to houses. The frequency of affectionate maternal touch positively correlated with child social sensitivity. These results raise the possibility that, similar to maternal touch in non-human animals, maternal touch in humans may play a role in shaping the neural systems involved in child social development.
Speaker: Ms. Christy Recce (M.Soc.Sci. Candidate in Psychology)
Date : Tuesday, 23 Oct 2012
Venue : Seminar Room B, AS7-01-17, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Time : 4.00pm – 5.00pm
About the Speaker
My current interests are focused around the influence of interpersonal tactile interactions. My primary research aim is to investigate the possible role perceived casual tactile interactions play in facilitating pro-social behaviour among adults. I am also continuing to work on a research project I began while I was employed as a research assistant in the Brain and Behaviour Lab, which explores how mother-child touch interactions influence child development, especially cognitive and emotional development.