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Some parenting behaviors can adjust babies' brains to tones of anger



A new study shows that parents who control their children very well can increase the likelihood that their baby will start listening to the angry voice.

According to the study published in PLoS ONE, when babies heard angry voice recordings, an area of ​​the brain involved in the treatment of emotional vocalisations reacted more strongly to infants whose mothers and fathers were more likely to parenthood "directive".

"The message to remember from this study is that the strength of a baby's 6-month-old brain response to angry voices may be influenced by early parenting experiences, including" directive "parenting," said Dr. Chen Zhao, lead author of the study. , who was a researcher at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom when conducting the study.

"By" directive "we mean that in a very specific sense, that is to say the extent to which a parent tends to behave and / or comment in order to control or restrict participation In our study, such behaviors can be a subtle and consistent pattern and involve or not the voice, "Zhao said in an e-mail. "For example, repeated small intrusions by holding a toy near the baby's face or repeatedly calling attention to it."

It depends on how often people adopt this type of parenting style, Zhao said. "We can deduce that parents who usually use a directive style (compared to those who do not) can also, in everyday life, express negative vocal emotions more quickly in order to elicit what can be expected. they regard as a "desired" behavior on the part of their baby, "she added.

Zhao and his colleagues studied the effects of parenthood on 29 mother-child pairs. Mothers and 6-month-old infants were monitored during play sessions and mothers were assessed for frequency of requests, intrusions and / or critical comments. "Babies who experience what we call a directive leadership style are likely to feel limited or limited in what they can do, express and / or contribute to play."

Next, the researchers asked the mothers to hold their baby on their lap while prerecorded, speechless, angry, cheerful or neutral vocalizations were played.

Since MRIs are noisy and intrusive, researchers have turned to another technology to scan babies' brains. Known as functional near infrared spectroscopy, this technique measures blood flow to the cortical areas of the brain. It's a "safe, portable device that looks like a little hat on the baby's head," Zhao explained.

Research shows that baby brains react more strongly to angry voices when their parents are more "intrusive and more demanding," Zhao said. Other research has shown that a more sensitive parenting that meets the needs and interests of the baby has a positive influence on language development, but it can also have an impact on how the baby treats the baby. emotional tones, she added.

The new study is "really cool," said Dr. Nathalie Maitre, a specialist in children's brain development at the Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. "It's really essential that researchers begin to look at how babies' brains react not only to sound but also to the emotional envelope that surrounds it," Master said. "These researchers were able to measure in real time how these babies perceived angry, happy or neutral sounds – it's a necessary element in the field of developmental neuroscience in infants."

Parents should not interpret this study as proving that any "directive" parenting is bad, Master said. Like many things, parenting is a continuum and there are times when directivity is needed, she added. "Directivity is not just about control, but about structure and direction," she said.


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