Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Reciprocal Autonomic Regulation in Mother-Infant Dyads during Social Interaction
by Furman, Senta A., Ph.D., University of Illinois at Chicago, 2013, 135; 3574271
Abstract (Summary)

The concept of emotional and behavioral self-regulation is part of a larger discussion of human behavior, which relates to social functioning. Appropriate social functioning is, of course, essential to quality of life and even to longevity. Healthy social functioning, for example, is essential to finding and maintaining employment and to creating social relationships. Good social support has been cited as important when predicting health outcomes in cancer patients and patients with other serious illnesses. And, of course, poor social functioning is associated with increased risk of psychiatric disorders and suicide. Research has demonstrated that intervention to improve social behaviors is most effective when begun as early as childhood, when specific patterns of social interaction first emerge. Recognizing dysfunctional social behavior early in life, then, is important.

The Mother-Child Play Project, described in the final chapter of this dissertation, was designed to demonstrate the importance of integrating essential subdisciplines within psychology, psychophysiology and neuroscience in order to create a comprehensive model to fully examine the neurophysiologic mechanisms that might underlie emotional and behavioral regulation in infants during the first year of life. The Project results demonstrate that development, individual differences, and social context are integrally related, and isolated study of only one or two of these dimensions is insufficient to achieve meaningful understanding of the underlying processes that guide regulation in infants. To understand the results and discussions presented in this last chapter, the first three chapters were written to offer an introduction to the structure and function of the autonomic nervous system; to present experimental data, which emphasizes the importance of employing accurate, reliable methods of measuring autonomic, specifically parasympathetic, activity in humans; and to detail the historical research and literature focused on characterizing emotional and behavioral regulation in early life.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Maki, Pauline
Commitee: Alford, Simon, Brady, Scott, Rasenick, Mark, Roitman, Jamie
School: University of Illinois at Chicago
Department: Neurosciences
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-B 75/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Neurosciences, Behavioral psychology, Physiological psychology
Keywords: Autonomic nevous systems, Autonomic regulation, Heart rate variability, Mother-infant interactions, Self-regulation, Social interactions, Vagus nerve
Publication Number: 3574271
ISBN: 9781303491450
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