Insecure attachment during infancy predicts greater amygdala volumes in early adulthood

Moutsiana, Christina, Johnstone, Tom, Murray, Lynne, Fearon, Pasco, Cooper, Peter J., Pliatsikas, Christos, Goodyer, Ian, Halligan, Sarah L. (2014) Insecure attachment during infancy predicts greater amygdala volumes in early adulthood. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, . ISSN 0021-9630. E-ISSN 1469-7610. (doi:10.1111/jcpp.12317)

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Abstract

Background The quality of the early environment is hypothesized to be an influence on morphological development in key neural areas related to affective responding, but direct evidence to support this possibility is limited. In a 22-year longitudinal study, we examined hippocampal and amygdala volumes in adulthood in relation to early infant attachment status, an important indicator of the quality of the early caregiving environment. Methods Participants (N = 59) were derived from a prospective longitudinal study of the impact of maternal postnatal depression on child development. Infant attachment status (24 Secure; 35 Insecure) was observed at 18 months of age, and MRI assessments were completed at 22 years. Results In line with hypotheses, insecure versus secure infant attachment status was associated with larger amygdala volumes in young adults, an effect that was not accounted for by maternal depression history. We did not find early infant attachment status to predict hippocampal volumes. Conclusions Common variations in the quality of early environment are associated with gross alterations in amygdala morphology in the adult brain. Further research is required to establish the neural changes that underpin the volumetric differences reported here, and any functional implications.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1111/jcpp.12317
Uncontrolled keywords: Attachment; brain development; amygdala; longitudinal; maternal depression
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Psychology > Cognitive Psychology
Depositing User: Christos Pliatsikas
Date Deposited: 29 Aug 2014 09:28 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 13:02 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/42759 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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