Neural Mechanisms of Maternal Motivation in Humans: An ERP Study


Damion Grasso, Jason S. Moser, Mary Dozier & Robert F. Simons


Department of Psychology, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, USA



This study examined the neural correlates of maternal motivation in humans using the P300 of the event-related brain potential (ERP). Fourteen birth mothers and 14 foster/adoptive mothers engaged in a computerized task in which they viewed facial pictures of their own children, and of familiar and unfamiliar children and adults. All mothers, regardless of type, showed P300 patterns suggestive of enhanced motivational processes when viewing their own children’s faces compared to other child and adult faces. Additionally, larger P300 face effects were associated with mothers’ perceptions of the parent-child relationship as positive and influential to their children’s psychological development.


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