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Title: The Power of an Infant's Smile: Maternal Physiological Responses to Infant Emotional Expressions
Authors: Mizugaki, Sanae
Maehara, Yukio
Okanoya, Kazuo
Myowa-Yamakoshi, Masako
Author's alias: 明和, 政子
Issue Date: 11-Jun-2015
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Journal title: PLOS ONE
Volume: 10
Issue: 6
Thesis number: e0129672
Abstract: Infant emotional expressions, such as distress cries, evoke maternal physiological reactions. Most of which involve accelerated sympathetic nervous activity. Comparatively little is known about effects of positive infant expressions, such as happy smiles, on maternal physiological responses. This study investigated how physiological and psychological maternal states change in response to infants' emotional expressions. Thirty first-time mothers viewed films of their own 6- to 7-month-old infants' affective behavior. Each observed a video of a distress cry followed by a video showing one of two expressions (randomly assigned): a happy smiling face (smile condition) or a calm neutral face (neutral condition). Both before and after the session, participants completed a self-report inventory assessing their emotional states. The results of the self-report inventory revealed no effects of exposure to the infant videos. However, the mothers in the smile condition, but not in the neutral condition, showed deceleration of skin conductance. These findings demonstrate that the mothers who observed their infants smiling showed decreased sympathetic activity. We propose that an infant's positive emotional expression may affect the branch of the maternal stress-response system that modulates the homeostatic balance of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
Rights: © 2015 Mizugaki et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2433/201601
DOI(Published Version): 10.1371/journal.pone.0129672
PubMed ID: 26065903
Appears in Collections:Journal Articles

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