Preliminary evidence for neural responsiveness to infants in mothers with schizophrenia and the implications for healthy parenting

Kathryn Abel, Rebecca Elliott, Darragh Downey, Hilary Strachan, Alya Elmadih, A Wieck, Steve R Williams, J Crowell, Ming Wai Wan

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Abstract

Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness that may significantly affect maternal sensitive behaviour. Neural correlates of maternal behaviour represent a potentially valuable means of differentiating objectively between healthy mothers expressing variations in maternal sensitivity. As mothers with schizophrenia (MWS) show deficits in behavioural responses to infants compared to healthy mothers, we explored whether maternal brain responses to infant stimuli would be significantly reduced in MWS. We also examined whether differences in maternal behaviour between healthy and ill mothers (during play interactions with own infant) were associated with differences in brain activation to infant stimuli.
We found no evidence of differential ‘maternal brain’ responses or ‘maternal behavioural’ responses in 11 new MWS compared to 20 healthy new mums; neither were neural responses to infants linked to behavioural or cognitive aspects of the mother’s relationship with her infant in MWS. These preliminary findings suggest maternal sensitivity differences between MWS and healthy mothers, suggested in previous studies, may be reversible in stable treated MWS.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-457
Number of pages7
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Volume197
Early online date19 Feb 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018

Keywords

  • Maternal brain responses
  • Maternal sensitivity
  • Mothers with schizophrenia

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