Article

Oxytocin Administration, Salivary Testosterone, and Father-Infant Social Behavior.

Authors:
  • Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, Israel
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Abstract

The growing involvement of fathers in childcare is followed by an increased interest in the neurobiology of fatherhood; yet, experimental work on the neuroendocrine basis of paternal care in humans is limited. The steroid Testosterone (T) and the neuropeptide Oxytocin (OT) have each been implicated in complex social behavior including parenting. However, no study to date explored the interaction between these two hormones in the context of fathering. In the current study we first test the relationship between father's basal salivary T and father and infant's social behaviors during parent-child interaction. Second, we examine the effects of intranasal OT administration on father's T production, and, finally, address the relations between OT-induced change in father's T with father-infant social behavior. Thirty-five fathers and their infants participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, within-subject study. Father-infant interaction was micro-coded for paternal and infant social behavior and synchrony was measured as the coordination between their gaze, affect, and vocalizations. Father's salivary T levels were measured at baseline and three times after administration. Results indicate that lower baseline T correlated with more optimal father and infant's behaviors. OT administration altered T production in fathers, relative to the pattern of T in the placebo condition. Finally, OT-induced change in T levels correlated with parent-child social behaviors, including positive affect, social gaze, touch, and vocal synchrony. Findings support the view that neuroendocrine systems in human males evolved to support committed parenting and are the first to describe the dynamic interactions between OT and T within a bio-behavioral synchrony model.

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... Short-term manipulation of oxytocin is likely to influence endogenous release of other hormones expected to exert their own effects on social behaviour [6]. For example, increased testosterone levels have been reported in men [7,8], but not in women [9], who received oxytocin nasal spray versus placebo. Levels of arginine vasopressin, a neurohormone closely related to oxytocin, were found to increase in men and women following oxytocin administration [10]. ...
... Levels of arginine vasopressin, a neurohormone closely related to oxytocin, were found to increase in men and women following oxytocin administration [10]. Also in both sexes, the effects of oxytocin administration on parenting-related behaviours were found to depend on baseline endogenous testosterone levels [8,11]. Notably, oxytocin and testosterone administration have shown opposing effects on various aspect of social behaviour in neurotypical populations and show opposite patterns of alteration in psychiatric conditions such as autism and schizophrenia [12], although such studies rarely assess multiple hormones within individuals. ...
... To date, the effects of oxytocin administration on endogenous steroid hormone levels have been examined in neurotypical individuals. Weisman et al. [8] reported alterations in fathers' salivary testosterone levels after oxytocin administration relative to placebo. Gossen et al. [7] reported alterations in serum testosterone and progesterone, but not in oestradiol, in neurotypical men after oxytocin administration. ...
Article
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Background: Oxytocin administration, which may be of therapeutic value for individuals with social difficulties, is likely to affect endogenous levels of other socially relevant hormones. However, to date, the effects of oxytocin administration on endogenous hormones have only been examined in neurotypical individuals. The need to consider multi-hormone interactions is particularly warranted in oxytocin trials for autism due to evidence of irregularities in both oxytocin and sex steroid systems. Methods: In this double-blind cross-over study, saliva samples were collected from 16 autistic and 29 neurotypical women before and after intranasal administration of 24 IU oxytocin or placebo. Oestradiol, testosterone, and oxytocin levels were quantified in saliva samples. Participants also completed the Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ) and Empathy Quotient (EQ) questionnaires. Results: Distinct patterns of change in testosterone and oestradiol levels pre- to-post-administration were observed in autistic relative to neurotypical women (ANCOVA, p < 0.05 main effect of Group), controlling for sample collection time. The mean percent change oestradiol was + 8.8% for the autism group and - 13.0% for the neurotypical group (t = 1.81, p = 0.08), while the mean percent change testosterone was + 1.1% in the autism group and - 12.6% in the neurotypical group (t = 1.26, p = 0.22). In the oxytocin condition, the mean percent change oestradiol was + 12.6% in the autism group and - 6.9% in the neurotypical group (t = 1.78, p = 0.08), while the mean percent change testosterone was + 14.4% in the autism group and - 15.2% in the neurotypical group (t = 3.00, p = 0.006). Robust regression confirmed that group differences in percent change hormone levels were not driven by a small number of influential individuals. Baseline hormone levels did not differ between groups when considered individually. However, baseline testosterone relative to oestradiol (T:E2 ratio) was higher in autistic women (p = 0.023, Cohen's d = 0.63), and this ratio correlated positively and negatively with AQ and EQ scores, respectively, in the combined sample. Limitations: Further studies with larger and more diverse autistic sample are warranted to confirm these effects. Conclusions: This study provides the first evidence that oxytocin influences endogenous testosterone levels in autistic individuals, with autistic women showing increases similar to previous reports of neurotypical men. These findings highlight the need to consider sex steroid hormones as a variable in future oxytocin trials.
... Table 1), of which 19 focused on endocrine changes and two combined both endocrine and SNPs analysis. Within the endocrine studies, six studies focused exclusively on Oxytocin (OT;Feldman et al., 2010aFeldman et al., ,b, 2011Gordon et al., 2010b;Weisman et al., 2012Weisman et al., , 2013a, five studies focused on Testosterone (T; Gettler et al., 2011;Perini et al., 2012a,b;Corpuz and Bugental, 2020;, one study focused on Prolactin (PRL; Delahunty et al., 2007), two studies analyzed both OT and T (Weisman et al., 2014;Gordon et al., 2017), another two studies observed OT and Cortisol (CORT; Gordon et al., 2010a;Weisman et al., 2013b), one OT and PRL (Gordon et al., 2010c), and two T and CORT (Bos et al., 2018;Kuo et al., 2018). Regarding molecular studies, two studies analyzed both OXTR and CD38 genetic polymorphisms . ...
... Besides controlling for the effect of time of day for hormone values, the majority of the reviewed studies included the following covariates in their models or examined potential correlations with those prior to data analysis: parent age (Feldman et al., ,b, 2011Gordon et al., 2010b,c;Perini et al., 2012a,b;Weisman et al., 2014;Bos et al., 2018;Kuo et al., 2018;Corpuz and Bugental, 2020); education Gordon et al., 2010c;Bos et al., 2018); height (Feldman et al., , 2011Gordon et al., 2010b,c); weight or body mass index (Feldman et al., ,b, 2011Gordon et al., 2010b,c;Perini et al., 2012a,b;Corpuz and Bugental, 2020); smoking (Feldman et al., ,b, 2011Gordon et al., 2010b,c); time of last meal (Feldman et al., , 2011Gordon et al., 2010b,c); use of medication (Feldman et al., , 2011Gordon et al., 2010b,c); and number of children/parity (Gettler et al., 2011;Bos et al., 2018;Kuo et al., 2018). Anecdotally, other studies observed variables related to parents such as: gender , religiosity , ethnicity (Corpuz and Bugental, 2020), birth order , hours of employment , parental status , parental anxiety (Gordon et al., 2010c), parenting stress (Gordon et al., 2010c;Weisman et al., 2013b), and psychosocial stress (Gettler et al., 2011), sleep quality, duration or disruption (Gettler et al., 2011; Episodes of social reciprocity were longer in the OT condition. ...
... Others observed variables related to the infant, such as infant's sex (Kuo et al., 2018) and age (Gordon et al., 2010c). Similarly, a couple of studies observed variables related to the parental marital relationship, such as: relationship duration (Perini et al., 2012a,b), time spent together as a couple and with significant others (Perini et al., 2012b), marital status (Kuo et al., 2018); and finally, a few other variables were considered across studies, such as consumption of caffeine (Perini et al., 2012a,b), activities during the day of saliva sampling (e.g., time with partner and baby; Perini et al., 2012b); hormone levels (Weisman et al., 2014); drug order (i.e., OT first vs. placebo first; Weisman et al., 2014); and maternal care . ...
Article
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During the postpartum period, the paternal brain suffers extensive and complex neurobiological alterations, through the experience of father-infant interactions. Although the impact of such experience in the mother has been increasingly studied over the past years, less is known about the neurobiological correlates of fatherhood-that is, the alterations in the brain and other physiological systems associated with the experience of fatherhood. With the present study, we aimed to perform a scoping review of the available literature on the genetic, neuroendocrine, and brain correlates of fatherhood and identify the main gaps in the current knowledge. PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science electronic databases were searched for eligible studies on paternal neuroplasticity during the postpartum period, over the past 15 years. Reference lists of relevant key studies and reviews were also hand-searched. The research team independently screened the identified studies based on the established inclusion criteria. Extracted data were analyzed using tables and descriptive synthesis. Among the 29 studies that met our inclusion criteria, the vast majority pertained to neuroendocrine correlates of fatherhood (n = 19), followed by brain activity or connectivity (n = 7), association studies of candidate genes (n = 2), and brain structure correlates (n = 1). Collectively, studies published during the past 15 years suggest the existence of significant endocrine (testosterone, oxytocin, prolactin, and cortisol levels) and neurofunctional alterations (changed activity in several brain networks related to empathy and approach motivation, emotional processing and mentalizing, emotion regulation, dorsal attention, and default mode networks) as a result of fatherhood, as well as preliminary evidence of genetic variability accounting for individual differences during the postpartum period in fathers. No studies were so far published evaluating epigenetic mechanisms associated with the paternal brain, something that was also the focus of the current review. We highlight the need for further research that examines neuroplasticity during the experience of fatherhood and that considers both the interplay between hormones and simultaneous assessment of the different biomarkers (e.g., associations between hormones and neural activity); data collection protocols and assessment times should also be refined.
... Fourteen papers came from the laboratory of Ruth Feldman at the Bar-Ilan University in Israel (Abraham et al., 2014;Apter-Levi et al., 2014;Feldman, Gordon, Schneiderman, et al., 2010;Feldman et al., 2011Feldman et al., , 2012Gordon et al., 2010aGordon et al., , 2010bGordon et al., , 2010cGordon et al., , 2017Weisman et al., 2012Weisman et al., , 2013Weisman et al., , 2014Weisman et al., , 2016. Three papers were published by Dorothy Vittner and colleagues at the University of Connecticut (Cong et al., 2015;Vittner et al., 2018Vittner et al., , 2019. ...
... Fourteen studies used a free or semi-structured play session ranging from 5 to 20 min (Abraham et al., 2014;Apter-Levi et al., 2014;Feldman, Gordon, Schneiderman, et al., 2010;Feldman et al., 2011Feldman et al., , 2012Gordon et al., 2010aGordon et al., , 2010bGordon et al., , 2010cGordon et al., , 2017Gray et al., 2007;Miura et al., 2015;Naber et al., 2010Naber et al., , 2013. Four studies used the Face-to-Face Still-Face paradigm (Weisman et al., , 2013(Weisman et al., , 2014(Weisman et al., , 2016, whereas the three studies including preterm infants opted for sessions involving skin-to-skin contact (Cong et al., 2015;Vittner et al., 2018Vittner et al., , 2019. Additionally, Cohen-Bendahan ...
... In other words, whereas psychological adaptation to parenthood may be observed in men (Lindstedt et al., 2020), the neuroendocrine adaptation occurs only after the transi- -Levi et al., 2014;Gordon et al., 2010b) and after (Feldman, Gordon, Schneiderman, et al., 2010) parent-child interaction were linked with increased stimulatory physical activities and better object presentation to the child. This was also supported by studies using controlled intranasal OT administration, which resulted in increased attuned physical stimulation by fathers during father-child interaction (Naber et al., 2010;Weisman et al., 2012Weisman et al., , 2014. It should be highlighted that previous research reported that high levels of OT concentrations in mothers may favor the emergence of other type of caregiving behaviors, such as affectionate or gentle touch and synchronous responses to infants' communicative bids (Scatliffe et al., 2019). ...
Article
With the consolidation of fathers’ engagement in caregiving, understanding the neu- roendocrine and hormonal mechanisms underlying fatherhood becomes a relevant topic. Oxytocin (OT) has been linked with maternal bonding and caregiving, but less is known about the role of OT in human fatherhood and paternal caregiving. A system- atic review of methods and findings of previous OT research in human fathers was car- ried. The literature search on PubMed and Scopus yielded 133 records. Twenty-four studies were included and analyzed. Significant variability emerged in OT methodol- ogy, including laboratory tasks, assessment methods, and outcome measures. Fathers’ OT levels appear to increase after childbirth. OT was significantly correlated with less hostility and with the quality of paternal physical stimulation in play interactions, but not with paternal sensitivity. Fathers’ and children's OT levels were significantly cor- related in a limited subset of studies, intriguingly suggesting that cross-generational OT regulation may occur during the early years of life. This study highlights relevant issues and limitations of peripheral OT assessment in human subjects, especially in fathers. Although the study of paternal neuroendocrinology appears promising, cop- ing with these issues requires dedicated efforts and methodological suggestions are provided to guide future advances in this field.
... For example, although males are not exposed to radical biological changes compared with those of females during pregnancy and postpartum, evidence exists that their hormonal pro les change during this period [23][24][25] . Two of these hormones are oxytocin and testosterone, which play an important role in paternal behaviour 26,27 . ...
... Low levels of testosterone throughout pregnancy and during postpartum in fathers were associated with high levels of paternal involvement in caregiving 27,28 . Moreover, high levels of postpartum oxytocin were related to increased father-infant interaction 29 . ...
... Scientists propose that testosterone and oxytocin play an important role in the parenting behaviour of males 24,27 . The current study found a transient negative correlation between oxytocin and the supplementary motor area during late-pregnancy in fathers. ...
Preprint
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Previous studies have demonstrated that paternal caregiving behaviours are reliant on neural pathways similar to those supporting maternal care. Interestingly, a greater variability exists in parental phenotypes in males than in females among individuals and mammalian species. However, less is known about when or how such variability emerges in human males. We investigated the longitudinal changes in the neural, hormonal and psychological bases of expression of paternal caregiving in humans throughout pregnancy and the first four months postpartum. We measured oxytocin and testosterone, paternity-related psychological traits and neural response to infant-interaction videos using fMRI in first-time fathers and childless men at three time points (early–mid-pregnancy, late-pregnancy and postpartum). We found that paternal-specific brain activity in prefrontal areas distinctly develops during middle-to-late pregnancy and is enhanced postpartum. Additionally, among fathers, the timing of the development of prefrontal brain activity was associated with specific parenting phenotypes.
... Two of these hormones are oxytocin and testosterone, which play an important role in paternal behaviour 26,27 . Low levels of testosterone throughout pregnancy and during postpartum in fathers were associated with high levels of paternal involvement in caregiving 27,28 . ...
... Two of these hormones are oxytocin and testosterone, which play an important role in paternal behaviour 26,27 . Low levels of testosterone throughout pregnancy and during postpartum in fathers were associated with high levels of paternal involvement in caregiving 27,28 . Moreover, high levels of postpartum oxytocin were related to increased father-infant interaction 29 . ...
... Scientists propose that testosterone and oxytocin play an important role in the parenting behaviour of males 24,27 . The current study found a transient negative correlation between oxytocin and the supplementary motor area during late-pregnancy in fathers. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Previous studies have demonstrated that paternal caregiving behaviours are reliant on neural pathways similar to those supporting maternal care. Interestingly, a greater variability exists in parental phenotypes in males than in females among individuals and mammalian species. However, less is known about when or how such variability emerges in human males. We investigated the longitudinal changes in the neural, hormonal and psychological bases of expression of paternal caregiving in humans throughout pregnancy and the first four months postpartum. We measured oxytocin and testosterone, paternity-related psychological traits and neural response to infant-interaction videos using fMRI in first-time fathers and childless men at three time points (early–mid-pregnancy, late-pregnancy and postpartum). We found that paternal-specific brain activity in prefrontal areas distinctly develops during middle-to-late pregnancy and is enhanced postpartum. Additionally, among fathers, the timing of the development of prefrontal brain activity was associated with specific parenting phenotypes.
... Se describe asimismo un importante rol indirecto en las relaciones e interacciones grupales y afectivas mediadas por este mecanismo neurológico y facilitadas por esta hormona 20 . La administración intranasal de OT aumenta el comportamiento explorador durante el juego padre-hijo 21,22 , así como una retroalimentación positiva mutua en los niveles de esta hormona, la que aumenta tras 15 minutos de interacción padre-hijo 1 . ...
... En tamarinos de cabeza de algodón, el nivel de testosterona en machos puede aumentar durante el posparto si las hembras muestran disposición a aparearse 16 . En el mono tití, padres que cargan a sus crías por tiempos prolongados, muestran menores niveles en orina y disminución de los esteroides gonadales y, el olor de la cría propia en edades tempranas disminuye el nivel de andrógenos en sangre promoviendo una conducta de cuidados y atención a las necesidades de ella 22 . ...
... Un meta-análisis reciente mostró que quienes son padres tienen niveles más bajos de testosterona que aquellos sin hijos y, si, además están involucrados en la crianza, son aún menores 23 . Esto sugiere que la experiencia de cuidado paterno, en sí misma, podría reducir los niveles de esta hormona 16,22 . El llanto infantil, asociado con acciones de cuidados posteriores, promueve un decremento androgénico y, lo opuesto ocurre, ante la imposibilidad de ejecutarlos 1,22 . ...
Article
Resumen La crianza cooperativa y en especial la participación paterna en los cuidados de los hijos desde etapas tempranas, ha sido un factor decisivo en la filogenia de nuestra especie, y considerado una de las adaptaciones importantes en la separación evolutiva con el resto de los primates, la neotenia. Esto permitió un desarrollo cerebral acelerado, en recién nacidos poco autónomos y altamente dependientes de sus padres, lo que se conoce como “desarrollo altricial”. Este es un modelo frecuente en aves, con una alta participación del padre (90%), pero escaso en mamíferos (10%). El objetivo de esta revisión es presentar evidencias acerca de la existencia de mecanismos neuroendocrinos y neurológicos que condicionen ancestralmente esta conducta en padres humanos. La literatura revisada que incluye estudios en humanos, animales y paleoantropológicos, sugiere que en la filogenia de nuestra especie se han sucedido cambios neuroendocrinos y cerebrales que han contribuido a la adquisición de conductas de “paternalidad”, decisivos para la sobrevivencia y posiblemente adaptativos hasta los tiempos actuales.
... As proximity to the child is necessary to show parental behavior, one would expect not (only) being or becoming a parent to be related with testosterone levels but parental behavior itself may be an important correlate of testosterone. Indeed, several studies show that fathers' testosterone is lower when they are more involved in parental care (Alvergne et al., 2009;Edelstein et al., 2017;Mascaro et al., 2013;Weisman et al., 2014). Besides this association with parental involvement, paternal testosterone levels were also linked to quality of parenting, in particular sensitive and nurturing behavior (Fleming et al., 2002;Storey et al., 2011). ...
... Based on the different methodology and measures of such studies, it was decided to exclude these studies. Furthermore, one study (Weisman et al., 2014) presented results based on baseline testosterone as well as testosterone levels after an oxytocin administration. As this was the only study outcome related to hormone or neuropeptide administration, we decided to only include the baseline results in the analyses. ...
... Besides testosterone, a number of other hormones and neuropeptides are probably involved in fathering (including, e.g., prolactin and progesterone; Bos, 2017), but besides testosterone three hormones may be of particular relevance in the context of parenting: oxytocin, estradiol, and vasopressin. Oxytocin administration was found to affect testosterone levels in fathers which subsequently influenced quality of the parent-child interaction (Weisman et al., 2014). Furthermore, testosterone is metabolized to estradiol, which in turn is critical for the synthesis of oxytocin (Choleris et al., 2008;Cornil et al., 2006). ...
Article
Full-text available
In fathers testosterone levels are suggested to decrease in the context of caregiving, but results seem inconsistent. In a meta-analysis including 50 study outcomes with N = 7,080 male participants we distinguished three domains of research, relating testosterone levels to parental status (Hedges' g = 0.22, 95% CI: 0.09 to 0.35; N = 4,150), parenting quality (Hedges' g = 0.14, 95% CI: 0.03 to 0.24; N = 2,164), and reactivity after exposure to child stimuli (Hedges' g = 0.19, 95% CI: -0.03 to 0.42; N = 766). The sets of study outcomes on reactivity and on parenting quality were both homogeneous. Parental status and (higher) parenting quality were related to lower levels of testosterone, but according to conventional criteria combined effect sizes were small. Moderators did not significantly modify combined effect sizes. Results suggest that publication bias might have inflated the meta-analytic results, and the large effects of pioneering but small and underpowered studies in the domains of males' parental status and parenting quality have not been consistently replicated. Large studies with sufficient statistical power to detect small testosterone effects and, in particular, the moderating effects of the interplay with other endocrine systems and with contextual determinants are required.
... Fourteen papers came from the laboratory of Ruth Feldman at the Bar-Ilan University in Israel (Abraham et al., 2014;Apter-Levi et al., 2014;Feldman, Gordon, Schneiderman, et al., 2010;Feldman et al., 2011Feldman et al., , 2012Gordon et al., 2010aGordon et al., , 2010bGordon et al., , 2010cGordon et al., , 2017Weisman et al., 2012Weisman et al., , 2013Weisman et al., , 2014Weisman et al., , 2016. Three papers were published by Dorothy Vittner and colleagues at the University of Connecticut (Cong et al., 2015;Vittner et al., 2018Vittner et al., , 2019. ...
... Fourteen studies used a free or semi-structured play session ranging from 5 to 20 min (Abraham et al., 2014;Apter-Levi et al., 2014;Feldman, Gordon, Schneiderman, et al., 2010;Feldman et al., 2011Feldman et al., , 2012Gordon et al., 2010aGordon et al., , 2010bGordon et al., , 2010cGordon et al., , 2017Gray et al., 2007;Miura et al., 2015;Naber et al., 2010Naber et al., , 2013. Four studies used the Face-to-Face Still-Face paradigm (Weisman et al., , 2013(Weisman et al., , 2014(Weisman et al., , 2016, whereas the three studies including preterm infants opted for sessions involving skin-to-skin contact (Cong et al., 2015;Vittner et al., 2018Vittner et al., , 2019. Additionally, Cohen-Bendahan ...
... In other words, whereas psychological adaptation to parenthood may be observed in men (Lindstedt et al., 2020), the neuroendocrine adaptation occurs only after the transi- -Levi et al., 2014;Gordon et al., 2010b) and after (Feldman, Gordon, Schneiderman, et al., 2010) parent-child interaction were linked with increased stimulatory physical activities and better object presentation to the child. This was also supported by studies using controlled intranasal OT administration, which resulted in increased attuned physical stimulation by fathers during father-child interaction (Naber et al., 2010;Weisman et al., 2012Weisman et al., , 2014. It should be highlighted that previous research reported that high levels of OT concentrations in mothers may favor the emergence of other type of caregiving behaviors, such as affectionate or gentle touch and synchronous responses to infants' communicative bids (Scatliffe et al., 2019). ...
... Research shows that having children and investing more time in childcare is in general related to lower T in fathers (e.g., Berg and Wynne-Edwards 2001;Gettler et al. 2011;Kuzawa et al. 2009). Moreover, it seems that lower T levels are associated with more sensitive, responsive, and nurturing behaviors (e.g., Kuo et al. 2015; van Anders et al. 2012;Weisman et al. 2014). However, not all parenting cues elicit a decrease in men's T levels. ...
... Previous research has shown that lower T levels in fathers are related to more sensitive parenting (Fleming et al. 2002;Storey et al. 2000;van Anders et al. 2012). During laboratory-based fatherbaby interactions, fathers with a lower baseline T and a higher T decline showed more optimal parenting behaviors such as a higher frequency and duration of affectionate touch, following the gaze of their baby, and baby-directed speech (Weisman et al. 2014). Moreover, a higher diurnal decline in T levels has been associated with more paternal sensitivity and respect for the child's autonomy during free play (Endendijk et al. 2016). ...
Article
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Objective Individual differences in quality of father involvement in caregiving might in part be explained by fathers’ testosterone (T) levels. We examined the links between fathers’ (n = 32) salivary T levels, amount of time spent with their child (12–30 months of age), type of father-child interaction, and fathers’ sensitivity. Methods During two home visits, video observations of father-child interactions were conducted to measure fathers’ sensitivity during a challenging and harmonious interaction. Fathers’ saliva was collected several times throughout the day on a working day and on the home visit days, including right before and after each father-child interaction. Results Fathers’ T secretion throughout the day was lower on home visit days (i.e., days with a higher amount of time spent with their child) than on a working day. For both challenging and harmonious father-child interactions, mean T levels did not differ before and after father-child interactions. However, individual changes in fathers’ T levels during the father-child interactions did predict fathers’ sensitivity. Specifically, the more T increased during the challenging interaction, or decreased during the harmonious interaction, the more sensitive the father was during that interaction as well as during a subsequent interaction. Conclusions Parenting quality is most optimal when fathers’ T system reacts in the expected direction given the context of the father-child interaction, i.e., a T decrease during a harmonious interaction and a T increase during a challenging interaction. Our study underscores the importance of examining the interplay between biology, behavior, and caregiving context in fathers’ parenting.
... However, maternal psychological distress and trauma related to experiencing a natural disaster were negatively associated with an increase of OXT levels. Authors measured OXT through an ELISA kit less used than the one mentioned above, following the protocol of Feldman, et al. (2014). In addition, although this method allows the measure of OXT levels in units of pg/ml, in this study the data was normalized by protein concentration in the saliva (pg/mg salivary protein), obtaining a narrower range of variation between 8 to 12 pg/mg protein (Nawa et al., 2020). ...
... A study conducted by Domes et al. (2007) Additionally, it has been documented that IAO modulates the action of other hormones such as cortisol (Quirin et al., 2011; and testosterone (Weisman et al., 2014). ...
Article
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This article introduces a review of research that has implemented oxytocin measurements in different fluids such as plasma, cerebrospinal fluid, urine and, mainly, saliva. The main purpose is to evaluate the level of evidence supporting the measurement of this biomarker implicated in a variety of psychological and social processes. First, a review of the technical developments that allowed the characterization, function establishing, and central and peripheral levels of this hormone is proposed. Then, the article approaches the current discussions regarding the level of reliability of the laboratory techniques that enable the measurement of oxytocin, focusing mainly on the determination of its concentration in saliva through Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA). Finally, research results, which have established the major physiological correlates of this hormone in fields such as social neuroscience and neuropsychology, are collected and discussed in terms of the hormone measurement methods that different authors have used. In this way, the article is expected to contribute to the panorama of debates and current perspectives regarding investigation involving this important biomarker.
... Different types of real-life interactions, which are likely to represent fathering behaviors, were therefore reproduced in the laboratories, videotaped, and microanalyzed. For example, Feldman and her colleagues (e.g., Weisman et al., 2014;Gordon et al., 2017) investigated fathers' interactions with their 1-6-month-old infants. They demonstrated that T was negatively related to the amount of father's affectionate touch (e.g., kissing, stroking, hugging) and his vocalization, which resembled the high-pitched speech with repetitive rhythm usually observed in sensitive mother-infant dyads. ...
... This interpretation is in line with numerous research studies that videotaped and microanalyzed parent-child interactions (e.g. Almanza-Sepulveda et al., 2020;Weisman et al., 2014;Gordon et al., 2017). The suppression of fathers' T in relation to cuddling is especially notable in the present study, as we controlled for the effects of fathers' sexual activities beforehand. ...
Article
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The present study examined testosterone (T) and cortisol (Cort) in fathers engaged with caregiving. We collected saliva samples in the mornings and evenings of two consecutive days in 150 fathers of 1- to 5-year-old children. Fathers completed questionnaires on socioeconomic status, family structure and life, sleep characteristics and body mass index (BMI), and reported on their engagement in childcare. Fathers used smartphone-based experience sampling throughout 1 week to sample ongoing activities with their children, including times of supervision, joint play, rough-and-tumble play, and cuddling episodes. External observers rated father–child attachment during a home visit. We began by testing for widely characterized covariates of T and excluded seasonal variations and known predictors associated with lowered T, such as older fathers and those with multiple and young children, lower BMI, shorter sleep duration, and sexual activity before sampling. Most interestingly, however, fathers’ engagement in childcare and attachment to the child appeared more pronounced the greater the diurnal decline in T. Cuddling predicted a similar negative association, whereas joint play and rough-and-tumble play (RTP) showed enhancing effects on declining T. Interestingly, all fathering behaviors (except RTP) were positively related to lower Cort. In contrast, supervision was ineffective on both Cort and T.
... A recent meta-analysis reports that men who are more inclined toward, and invested in, parenting tend to have lower testosterone levels (Grebe et al., 2019). Among new fathers transitioning into parenthood, lower testosterone levels have been detected in men with greater paternal involvement and investment (Gettler et al., 2013;Saxbe, Edelstein et al., 2017;Weisman et al., 2014). Fathers with lower testosterone levels display more positive parenting during father-child interactions and report greater empathy (Kuo et al., 2016). ...
Preprint
The current investigation considered salivary testosterone as a potential biomarker of physical child abuse risk. Parents enrolled in a prospective, longitudinal, multimethod study beginning prenatally provided saliva when their toddlers were 18 months old. Mothers and fathers self-reported on their empathy, frustration tolerance, and child abuse risk, as well as completing analog tasks of frustration intolerance and child abuse risk and participating in structured parent-child interactions. In contrast to mothers, fathers' higher testosterone levels were associated with increased child abuse risk, less observed positive parenting, more observed negative parenting, and an analog task of frustration intolerance; such findings were reflected across time. Further, fathers' socioeconomic status moderated the association between testosterone levels and abuse risk. No evidence of partner effects was observed in dyadic analyses. The current findings suggest that higher testosterone levels reflect an increased likelihood that paternal physically abusive behavior may be expressed.
... Two developments will be mentioned here. First, fathers given intranasal OT had higher quality interactions with their infants (Naber et al., 2010;Weisman et al., 2014) in both typically developing and autistic children (Naber et al., 2010;Naber et al., 2013). Interestingly, infants of the OT-treated fathers also showed an increase in OT in response to their fathers' behavior , with father's head acceleration apparently being the behavior that the baby responds to most during the interaction (Weisman et al., 2013a). ...
Article
We outline the progress on the hormonal basis of human paternal behavior during the past twenty years. Advances in understanding the roles of testosterone, prolactin, oxytocin and vasopressin in fathering behavior are described, along with recent research on hormonal interactions, such as those between testosterone and cortisol, and testosterone and the peptide hormones. In addition, we briefly describe the recent leaps forward in elucidating the neurobiological and neuroendocrine basis of fatherhood, made possible by fMRI technology. Emerging from this literature is a developing and complicated story about fatherhood, highlighting the need to further understand the interplay between behavior, physiology, social context, and individual genetic variation. Given the changing roles of parents in many societies, the continued growth of this research area will provide a strong empirical knowledge base about paternal behavior on which to create policies promoting fathers' involvement in their infants' lives.
... A recent meta-analysis reports that men who are more inclined toward, and invested in, parenting tend to have lower testosterone levels (Grebe et al., 2019). Among new fathers transitioning into parenthood, lower testosterone levels have been detected in men with greater paternal involvement and investment (Gettler et al., 2013;Saxbe, Edelstein et al., 2017;Weisman et al., 2014). Fathers with lower testosterone levels display more positive parenting during father-child interactions and report greater empathy (Kuo et al., 2016). ...
... A recent meta-analysis reports that men who are more inclined toward, and invested in, parenting tend to have lower testosterone levels (Grebe et al., 2019). Among new fathers transitioning into parenthood, lower testosterone levels have been detected in men with greater paternal involvement and investment (Gettler et al., 2013;Saxbe, Edelstein et al., 2017;Weisman et al., 2014). Fathers with lower testosterone levels display more positive parenting during father-child interactions and report greater empathy (Kuo et al., 2016). ...
Article
The current investigation considered salivary testosterone as a potential biomarker of physical child abuse risk. Parents enrolled in a prospective, longitudinal, multimethod study beginning prenatally provided saliva when their toddlers were 18 months old. Mothers and fathers self-reported on their empathy, frustration tolerance, and child abuse risk, as well as completing analog tasks of frustration intolerance and child abuse risk and participating in structured parent-child interactions. In contrast to mothers, fathers’ higher testosterone levels were associated with increased child abuse risk, less observed positive parenting, more observed negative parenting, and an analog task of frustration intolerance; such findings were reflected across time. Further, fathers’ socioeconomic status moderated the association between testosterone levels and abuse risk. No evidence of partner effects was observed in dyadic analyses. The current findings suggest that higher testosterone levels reflect an increased likelihood that paternal physically abusive behavior may be expressed.
... Those men who were relatively more interested in babies, for example, had relatively lower testosterone reactivity to cues of short-term mating (Zilioli et al., 2015). Conversely, men with high levels of testosterone were found to be more interested in extrapair affairs (Edelstein et al., 2011;McIntyre et al., 2006) and less interested in infant-relevant stimuli (Fleming, Corter, Stallings, & Steiner, 2002;Roney, Hanson, Durante, & Maestripieri, 2006;Storey, Walsh, Quinton, & Wynne-Edwards, 2000;Weisman, Zagoory-Sharon, & Feldman, 2014) and families and parenting (Alvergne et al., 2009;Mascaro, Hackett, & Rilling, 2013). ...
Article
What motives do people prioritize in their social lives? Historically, social psychologists, especially those adopting an evolutionary perspective, have devoted a great deal of research attention to sexual attraction and romantic-partner choice (mate-seeking). Research on long-term familial bonds (mate retention and kin care) has been less thoroughly
... In addition, oxytocin administration is associated with a decrease in salivary cortisol levels during stress inducing interventions (Cardoso et al., 2013;Ditzen et al., 2009;Heinrichs et al., 2003), but not when no stress is provoked (Wirth et al., 2015). Oxytocin is also associated with short-term (Weisman et al., 2014) and long-term elevations (Gossen et al., 2012) of salivary testosterone levels, but according to Wirth and colleagues (2015) not under nonstressful circumstances. Since in our study oxytocin did not affect steroid levels compared to placebo, and mood did not change between the moments of saliva collection, we assume that no exogenous alteration in steroid levels was induced and that the drop in cortisol level over time was caused by its diurnal rhythm. ...
... Indeed, fathers with lower testosterone levels have been found to show a more optimal expression of the human parenting repertoire, including more affectionate touch, gaze and vocalization during father-child interaction (Weisman, Zagoory-Sharon, & Feldman, 2014), and feel more sympathy when hearing infant cry sounds (Fleming, Corter, Stallings, & Steiner, 2002). Moreover, fathers' decline in testosterone levels during pregnancy predicted fathers' postpartum investment, commitment, and satisfaction in the couple relationship (Saxbe et al., 2017). ...
Article
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This longitudinal study examined whether prenatal family alliance and prenatal paternal testosterone levels predicted infant–mother and infant–father attachment security and whether this association was mediated by postnatal family alliance and postnatal paternal testosterone levels. In 105 couples expecting their first child, family alliance was assessed in the third trimester of pregnancy with the prenatal version of the Lausanne Trilogue Play (LTP). Family alliance was measured again 6 months postnatally, using the LTP. Fathers provided testosterone samples prenatally and at 6 months postnatally. Infant– parent attachment was assessed with the Attachment Q-Sort (AQS) at 24 months. Results indicated an increase in paternal testosterone levels from the pre- to the postnatal period. A more positive prenatal family alliance predicted higher infant–father attachment security at 24 months, but not infant–mother attachment security. The association between prenatal family alliance and attachment security was not mediated by postnatal family alliance or postnatal paternal testosterone levels. This study highlights the significance of prenatal family relations, and the need to consider in research and practice the divergent effects of prenatal family alliance patterns on the emerging infant–mother and infant–father attachment relationships. The underlying hormonal mechanisms during the transition to fatherhood are important targets for future research.
... ound to be more interested in extra-pair affairs (Edelstein, Chopik, & Kean, 2011;McIntyre, Gangestad, Gray, Chapman, Burnham, O'Rourke, & Thornhill, 2006), while being less interested in infant-relevant stimuli (Fleming, Corter, Stallings, & Steiner, 2002;Roney, Hanson, Durante, & Maestripieri, 2006.;Storey, Walsh, Quinton, & Wynne-Edwards, 2000.;Weisman, Zagoory-Sharon, & Feldman, 2014), and families and parenting (Alvergne, Faurie, & Raymond, 2009;Mascaro, Hackett, & Rilling, 2013). ...
Article
Full-text available
What motives do people prioritize in their social lives? Historically, social psychologists, especially those adopting an evolutionary perspective, have devoted a great deal of research attention to sexual attraction and romantic-partner choice (mate seeking). Research on long-term familial bonds (mate retention and kin care) has been less thoroughly connected to relevant comparative and evolutionary work on other species, and in the case of kin care, these bonds have been less well researched. Examining varied sources of data from 27 societies around the world, we found that people generally view familial motives as primary in importance and mate-seeking motives as relatively low in importance. Compared with other groups, college students, single people, and men place relatively higher emphasis on mate seeking, but even those samples rated kin-care motives as more important. Furthermore, motives linked to long-term familial bonds are positively associated with psychological well-being, but mate-seeking motives are associated with anxiety and depression. We address theoretical and empirical reasons why there has been extensive research on mate seeking and why people prioritize goals related to long-term familial bonds over mating goals. Reallocating relatively greater research effort toward long-term familial relationships would likely yield many interesting new findings relevant to everyday people’s highest social priorities.
... stability is beneficial for the couple. The man lives in a different 'climate' than the woman; the 'testosterone climate' which ensures stability together with adaptation to the environment [28]. Man's hormonal climate has no seasons; man's hormones are regulated to adapt to the needs of the moment. ...
... Reduced aggression and increased social exploration towards an unfamiliar animal have also been reported in male rats after repeated administration of IN OXT (Calcagnoli et al., 2015) and in humans, an increased approach toward the stranger, but not towards the friend has been reported after a single dose of IN OXT (24 IU) in adult males (Cohen and Shamay-Tsoory, 2018). It has also been suggested in other contexts that OXT could alter testosterone levels (Gossen et al., 2012;Weisman et al., 2014), however, we found no difference in testosterone levels between OXT-and SAL-treated males. Thus, the interest in an unfamiliar pair seemed to be an increase in positive social approach, rather than an acceleration of sexual interest in the female of the stranger pair. ...
Article
Intranasal oxytocin (IN OXT) has been proposed as a treatment for autism spectrum disorder (ASD); however, little is known about the effects of long-term exposure. This is the first study in a non-human primate species to examine how developmental exposure to chronic IN OXT affects juvenile's interactions with family members, social preference for parents versus strangers, anxiety-like behavior, and cerebral glucose metabolism. Titi monkeys are socially monogamous and biparental; their family bonds share important characteristics with human family bonds. Fourteen males and 15 females were treated intranasally with saline (n = 14) or 0.8 IU/kg OXT (n = 15), daily from 12 to 18 months of age. Compared to SAL-treated animals, OXT-treated animals of both sexes spent significantly more time grooming other family members (F1 = 8.97, p = 0.006). Overall, OXT-treated subjects were more social (F1 = 8.35, p = 0.005) during preference tests. OXT-treated females displayed an enhanced preference for their parents (t = 2.265, p = 0.026). OXT-treated males had a blunted preference for their parents and an increase in the time spent near unfamiliar pairs (F1 = 10.89, p = 0.001). During anxiety tests, OXT-treated males refused to complete the task more often than SAL-treated males and had longer latencies (p < 0.0001). Neuroimaging studies revealed that OXT-treated animals had higher glucose uptake across the social salience network as a whole after one month of treatment (F1,9 = 1.07, p = 0.042). Our results suggest moderate prosocial effects of chronic IN OXT, that did not depend on anxiolytic properties. We also found important sex differences that should be considered in a translational context.
... Although we focused in this article on OT, there are other biomarkers that have been shown to be linked with the OT system and may be relevant for the therapeutic process, particularly those showing hormonal attunement between mother and child, which are amenable to sensitive and synchronous parenting. These include hormones implicated in the stress response, such as cortisol, salivary alpha amylase, or dehydroepiandrosterone (Feldman, Singer, & Zagoory, 2010;Feldman, Vengrober, Eidelman-Rothman, & Zagoory-Sharon, 2013;Pratt et al., 2017); affiliation-related hormones, such as vasopressin or beta endorphin (Apter-Levi, Zagoory-Sharon, Ulmer-Yaniv et al., 2016); sex hormones, such as testosterone (Gordon, Pratt, Bergunde, Zagoory-Sharon, & Feldman, 2017;Weisman, Zagoory-Sharon, & Feldman, 2014); and markers of the immune system, such as secretory immunoglobulin A (Ulmer-Yaniv et al., 2018;Yirmiya, Djalovski, Motsan, Zagoory-Sharon, & Feldman, 2018). Because the OT system provides a neuroendocrine milieu for the activity of hormones implicated in the bonding process (Feldman, 2016), psychotherapy research may benefit from integrating OT assessment with other attachment-related neuroendocrine systems. ...
Article
The therapeutic alliance is one of the most consistent predictors of therapeutic change, including symptom reduction and improvement in wellbeing and quality of life, across a variety of mental health interventions. Yet, little is known about its biological mechanisms. Oxytocin (OT) has been suggested as a biological mechanism by which bonds are formed and strengthened across species. This article is intended to demonstrate the potential of OT as a biomarker of therapeutic change in psychotherapy and counseling psychology, especially of the therapeutic alliance. We delineate three main potential paths of investigation based on the most recent research on OT in parent-child and romantic partner dyads. For each path, we provide a detailed explanation for whom, when, and how OT should be measured. Each path is illustrated using data collected in a randomized controlled trial of psychotherapy for major depressive disorder. These illustrations demonstrate the great potential of OT as a biomarker of (a) trait-like characteristics of the patients and the therapists, (b) the processes of therapeutic change, and (c) the dyadic synchrony between patients and their therapists. The potential clinical contribution of OT as a biomarker for each of these three paths is further demonstrated using a case study. Practical suggestions and directions for future research are discussed. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
... As the authors suggest, the chronic exposure to testosterone to which men undergo, for example during puberty, may produce the aforementioned reduction in tactile sensitivity (Burris et al., 1991). It has been shown that testosterone levels are inversely correlated with paternal affectionate touch since it appears that fathers with high levels of testosterone are less likely to touch their infants (Weisman et al., 2014). On this account, fatherhood seems to be negatively related to testosterone levels; in fact, fathers have lower levels of testosterone compared to men without children (Grebe et al., 2019). ...
Article
The unmyelinated C-tactile afferents system holds a hedonic function in touch experiences, shaping social functioning in the so-called affective touch hypothesis. Despite the fact that females are recognized as more sensitive to discriminative aspects of touch and respond more positively to touch than men, sex differences in the perception of affective touch have not been extensively investigated. We aimed to fill this gap by meta-analyzing existing studies on this topic. Thirteen studies were eligible and pooled effect sizes (Hedges⿿ g) were compared. Random effect models were used. Results, which are not influenced by publication bias, show that there is a sex asymmetry in the pleasantness perceived during an affective tactile stimulation, with females showing higher pleasantness ratings than males. The size of the association does not vary as a function of sex distribution, age and methodological quality. Hormonal as well as evolutionary differences related to the caregiving and nurturing function of females may explain sex differences in affective touch. Results are limited by the small number of studies included in the meta-analysis.
... ound to be more interested in extra-pair affairs (Edelstein, Chopik, & Kean, 2011;McIntyre, Gangestad, Gray, Chapman, Burnham, O'Rourke, & Thornhill, 2006), while being less interested in infant-relevant stimuli (Fleming, Corter, Stallings, & Steiner, 2002;Roney, Hanson, Durante, & Maestripieri, 2006.;Storey, Walsh, Quinton, & Wynne-Edwards, 2000.;Weisman, Zagoory-Sharon, & Feldman, 2014), and families and parenting (Alvergne, Faurie, & Raymond, 2009;Mascaro, Hackett, & Rilling, 2013). ...
... Although research into the impact of paternal care on infants' physiological events are sparse, a significant amount of research has been done on hormone production in parents. In fathers specifically, active playing 'rough and tumble' interactions have been reported to be positively correlated with oxytocin (Feldman et al., 2010) and testosterone production (Rilling and Mascaro, 2017) whereas empathy-related caring interaction behavior would be negatively correlated with testosterone (Fleming et al., 2002;Mascaro et al., 2014;Weisman et al., 2014). ...
Article
Full-text available
The building of physiological self-regulation during bonding is a crucial developmental process based on early cardio-respiratory maturation. The mother’s role as a facilitator of this physiological maturation has been evidenced and recognized in many respects. Research in fathers, however, remains sparse which may be due to the belief that bonding is a physiological behavior reserved for a mother’s maternal instinct. In the current study we compared the impact of paternal and maternal nurturing stroking touch on infants’ physiological self-regulation in terms of respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA). We compared the impact of a 3-min stroking period (STROKING) with a pre-baseline (PRE-STROKING) and post-baseline (POST-STROKING) of 25 mothers and 25 fathers (unrelated to one another) on their infants, aged 4–16 weeks. We registered infant electrocardiogram (ECG) and respiration to calculate infant RR-interval (RRI), respiration rate (fR) and (respiratory corrected) RSA (RSAcorr). Based on video-recordings, we analyzed the stroking speed. Infants’ RSAcorr significantly increased during and after stroking, no matter whether touch was delivered by fathers or mothers. This effect was mediated by both heart rate (HR) and respiration. However, respiratory mediation occurred later when delivered by fathers than by mothers. Both mothers’ and fathers’ stroking speed occurred within the optimal stimulation range of c-tactile (CT) afferents, a particular class of cutaneous unmyelinated, low-threshold mechano-sensitive nerves hypothesized to be involved in inter-personal bonding. The discussion builds on the idea to mitigate fathers’ doubts about their paternal capabilities and proposes a research agenda regarding the further examination of the role of nurturing touch and its underlying mechanisms within the development of infants’ physiological self-regulation. Finally, the importance of respiratory measurements in infant physiological research is emphasized.
... Specifically, research in multiple societies has shown that men and women often have lower T when they have young children that require intensive childcare (Alvarado et al., 2015;Barrett et al., 2013;Gray, Kahlenberg, Barrett, Lipson, & Ellison, 2002;Kuzawa, Gettler, Huang, & McDade, 2010). In some cultural settings, fathers also have reduced T when they engage in more nurturant, direct caregiving (Alvergne, Faurie, & Raymond, 2009;Edelstein et al., 2017;Gettler, McDade, Agustin, Feranil, & Kuzawa, 2015;Kuo et al., 2018;Mascaro, Hackett, & Rilling, 2013;Weisman, Zagoory-Sharon, & Feldman, 2014). U.S. men and women with lower T also report greater commitment and satisfaction in their romantic relationships, as do their partners (Edelstein, van Anders, Chopik, Goldey, & Wardecker, 2014;Saxbe, Edelstein, et al., 2017). ...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction: Testosterone and oxytocin are psychobiological mechanisms that interrelate with relationship quality between parents and the quantity and quality of parenting behaviors, thereby affecting child outcomes. Their joint production based on family dynamics has rarely been tested, particularly cross-culturally. Methods: We explored family function and salivary testosterone and oxytocin in mothers and fathers in a small-scale, fishing-farming society in Republic of the Congo. Fathers ranked one another in three domains of family life pertaining to the local cultural model of fatherhood. Results: Fathers who were viewed as better providers had relatively lower oxytocin and higher testosterone than men seen as poorer providers, who had lower testosterone and higher oxytocin. Fathers also had higher testosterone and lower oxytocin in marriages with more conflict, while those who had less marital conflict had reduced testosterone and higher oxytocin. In contrast, mothers in conflicted marriages showed the opposite profiles of relatively lower testosterone and higher oxytocin. Mothers had higher oxytocin and lower testosterone if fathers were uninvolved as direct caregivers, while mothers showed an opposing pattern for the two hormones if fathers were seen as involved with direct care. Conclusions: These results shed new light on parents' dual oxytocin and testosterone profiles in a small-scale society setting and highlight the flexibility of human parental psychobiology when fathers' roles and functions within families differ across cultures.
... A global review of parenting programs shows that the large majority undervalues co-parenting compared with mothering, and there is a dearth of robust evaluations that measure father participation or their specific impact on child or family outcomes (Panter-Brick, 2014). The scientific evidence contests this belief -fathers, both biological and non-biological, have been shown to experience neurological changes akin to mothers' as a result of childrearing, including increases in oxytocin and activation in empathy-related neural pathways (Yogman, 1982;Yogman et al. 1983;Feldman, 2003;Gettler et al., 2011;Perini et al., 2012;Feldman et al., 2010;Abraham & Feldman, 2018); which then translate to active behavioral engagement in children's care and stimulation Gordon et al., 2010;Weisman et al., 2014). ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Fathers have a profound and lasting impact on their children’s development. Parents and caregivers are the most important providers of nurturing care for children, and while women have historically taken the role of principal caregivers, this document recognizes the need to support fathers and male caregivers to assume a central parenting role, together with the children’s mothers or female caregivers, as in practice, men’s involvement in childrearing although increasing, is still limited across the world. This paper first summarizes evidence showing how positive male engagement can contribute to children’s physical and mental health, better cognitive development and higher educational achievement, as well as have a profound impact on children’s future relationships as parents and partners, as well as promote gender inequitable relationships and power imbalances in decision-making within the household. Male engagement can contribute to preventing violence in their families. The paper then identifies the existing obstacles to men’s engagement as fathers; the fourth section provides examples of good practices and interventions that have addressed these constraints to engaging men. Finally, it offers conclusions, and research, policy and programmatic recommendations to promote the engagement of men in care giving as equitable, affectionate and non-violent fathers.
... Nell'ultimo decennio, ad esempio, la ricerca ha evidenziato anche nel maschio una naturale predisposizione biologica su base evoluzionistica a prendersi cura dei bambini, testimoniata da modificazioni ormonali e neurobiologiche che si manifestano quando il padre si occupa di un neonato (Abraham et al., 2014;Swain et al. 2014;Fisher et al., 2018;Feldman, Braun e Champagne, 2019). Queste riguardano i livelli aumentati di ossitocina (che favoriscono le attività empatiche e sociali) (Cong et al., 2015;Abraham et al., 2016), la diminuzione di testosterone (che rende i padri più sensibili, meno aggressivi e meglio disposti nei confronti del neonato e della madre) (Weisman et al., 2014;Gettler et al., 2015;Saxbe et al., 2017), livelli più elevati di prolattina (che aumentano quando il neonato piange o è più vulnerabile e bisognoso di cure) (Fleming et al. 2002;Gettler, 2014) e di cortisolo (che intensificano l'attenzione verso il neonato, ma che diminuiscono nel contatto "pelle a pelle") (Fleming et al. 2002;Cong et al. 2015). Le aree e i circuiti cerebrali attivati quando ci si prende cura di un neonato sono gli stessi nell'uomo e nella donna e riguardano le funzioni cerebrali emozionali-empatiche e quelle socio-cognitive (Abraham et al., 2014;Feldman, Braun e Champagne, 2019). ...
Article
Psichiatria e Psicoterapia, 2020, 39 (1), 225-238. 1. Attaccamento familiare e funzione del padre nel periodo perinatale Negli ultimi anni la ricerca scientifica ha fornito prove molto convincenti sull'importanza del padre fin dai primi momenti della gravidanza e riguardo la sua influenza sul rapporto madre-bambino, sulla salute mentale della madre e sullo sviluppo psicofisico dei figli. L'attaccamento tra padre e figlio è risultato molto più importante di quanto non si pensasse, anche se a lungo sottovalutato, forse in conseguenza dell'atteggiamento tenuto dallo stesso Bowlby che ha concentrato la sua attenzione sulla funzione della madre come figura di attaccamento (Baldoni, 2016). Nell'ultimo decennio, ad esempio, la ricerca ha evidenziato anche nel maschio una naturale predisposizione biologica su base evoluzionistica a prendersi cura dei bambini, testimoniata da modificazioni ormonali e neurobiologiche che si manifestano quando il padre si occupa di un neonato (Abraham et al., 2014; Swain et al. 2014; Fisher et al., 2018; Feldman, Braun e Champagne, 2019). Queste riguardano i livelli aumentati di ossitocina (che favoriscono le attività empatiche e sociali) (Cong et al., 2015; Abraham et al., 2016), la diminuzione di testosterone (che rende i padri più sensibili, meno aggressivi e meglio disposti nei confronti del neonato e della madre) (Weisman et al., 2014; Gettler et al., 2015; Saxbe et al., 2017), livelli più elevati di prolattina (che aumentano quando il neonato piange o è più vulnerabile e bisognoso di cure) (Fleming et al. 2002; Gettler, 2014) e di cortisolo (che intensificano l'attenzione verso il neonato, ma che diminuiscono nel contatto "pelle a pelle") (Fleming et al. 2002; Cong et al. 2015). Le aree e i circuiti cerebrali attivati quando ci si prende cura di un neonato sono gli stessi nell'uomo e nella donna e riguardano le funzioni cerebrali emozionali-empatiche e quelle socio-cognitive (Abraham et al., 2014; Feldman, Braun e Champagne, 2019). In modo simile alla madre, quindi, anche il padre è predisposto biologicamente a una relazione precoce di attaccamento e questa relazione svolge una funzione nello sviluppo psicofisico del figlio, come ormai testimoniato da molte ricerche. Nel corso del tempo, quando il bambino cresce, l'influenza dell'attaccamento tra padre-figlio è legata non solo alla capacità di parlargli e di rivolgersi a lui mettendosi nei suoi panni in termini di pensieri, emozioni, aspettative e bisogni (cioè di mentalizzarlo), ma anche al coinvolgerlo in attività fisiche, in azzuffate e in giochi competitivi (come quelli sportivi). Queste esperienze si riveleranno determinanti per lo sviluppo nei figli di una valida regolazione degli impulsi, particolarmente quelli aggressivi, e di capacità a propria volta mentalizzanti (riflessive). Li incoraggeranno, inoltre, nell'esplorazione dell'ambiente interno ed esterno alla famiglia (Grossmann et al., 2002, 2008; Di Folco e Zavattini, 2014). Le attività cerebrali emotive-empatiche del padre a un anno di vita del bambino, ad esempio, favoriscono lo sviluppo di una migliore regolazione emotiva del figlio a quattro anni, mentre quelle socio-cognitive favoriscono le capacità sociali (Abraham et al., 2016). Questo si rivelerà molto utile nella gestione dei rapporti extra-familiari (tra coetanei, con la scuola, con i primi partner sentimentali), in particolare durante l'adolescenza e il periodo di autonomizzazione dei figli. Sarebbe riduttivo, però, considerare il padre solo nel rapporto diretto con il figlio (lo stesso vale per la madre). Un suo compito fondamentale durante la gravidanza e l'infanzia della prole, infatti, è garantire le condizioni perché la relazione tra madre e bambino si sviluppi e si mantenga in modo
... www.nature.com/scientificreports/ lower T in fathers to greater paternal care has been conducted in the U.S., Europe, and the Philippines, which are cultural contexts in which care within the nuclear family has long been primarily prioritized or is increasingly emphasized (Philippines) [21][22][23][24][25] . In these societies, communal caregiving (or "cooperative breeding"), which is widely recognized as a critical adaptation that helped facilitate the evolution of human's "slow" life history, is variably practiced [26][27][28][29] . ...
Article
Full-text available
Humans are rare among mammals in exhibiting paternal care and the capacity for broad hyper-cooperation, which were likely critical to the evolutionary emergence of human life history. In humans and other species, testosterone is often a mediator of life history trade-offs between mating/competition and parenting. There is also evidence that lower testosterone men may often engage in greater prosocial behavior compared to higher testosterone men. Given the evolutionary importance of paternal care and heightened cooperation to human life history, human fathers' testosterone may be linked to these two behavioral domains, but they have not been studied together. We conducted research among highly egalitarian Congolese BaYaka foragers and compared them with their more hierarchical Bondongo fisher-farmer neighbors. Testing whether BaYaka men's testosterone was linked to locally-valued fathering roles, we found that fathers who were seen as better community sharers had lower testosterone than less generous men. BaYaka fathers who were better providers also tended to have lower testosterone. In both BaYaka and Bondongo communities, men in marriages with greater conflict had higher testosterone. The current findings from BaYaka fathers point to testosterone as a psychobiological correlate of cooperative behavior under ecological conditions with evolutionarily-relevant features in which mutual aid and sharing of resources help ensure survival and community health.
... First, the model implies that low levels of T might be linked to parental contexts that are perceived as nurturing. This idea is in line with previous research in humans showing that lower salivary T is associated with increased participation of fathers in child care and enhanced quality of caregiving, both prenatally (Bos et al., 2018;Edelstein et al., 2017) and postnatally (Bos et al., 2018;Gettler et al., 2011;Weisman et al., 2014), although combined effect sizes are small (for a meta-analysis see Meijer et al., 2019). Additionally, the Steroid/Peptide Theory of Social Bonds implies that high levels of T are associated with parental contexts that involve a need for protective responses. ...
Article
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Infant protection is an important but largely neglected aspect of parental care. Available theory and research suggest that endocrine levels and neural responses might be biological correlates of protective behavior. However, no research to date examined associations between these neurobiological and behavioral aspects. This study, preregistered on https://osf.io/2acxd, explored the psychobiology of paternal protection in 77 new fathers by combining neural responses to infant-threatening situations, self-reported protective behavior, behavioral observations in a newly developed experimental set-up (Auditory Startling Task), and measurements of testosterone and vasopressin. fMRI analyses validated the role of several brain networks in the processing of infant-threatening situations and indicated replicable findings with the infant-threat paradigm. We found little overlap between observed and reported protective behavior. Robust associations between endocrine levels, neural responses, and paternal protective behavior were absent.
... 1. The decrease of testosterone and estradiol (which makes fathers more sensitive, less aggressive, and better disposed toward the newborn and the mother) [19][20][21], particularly if the father is involved in the care of the newborn. Research and meta-analytic studies have confirmed that fathers tend to have lower testosterone levels than other males and that fathers with lower testosterone levels tend to look after their children better [22]. ...
Chapter
Nowadays, the functions and roles of the father are the consequence of a gradual transition from a patriarchal family to a contemporary family organization. New fathers today are increasingly the point of reference of the mother, particularly during the perinatal period, and are ever more involved in the care of their offspring. The significant adjustments in the paternal functions are also accompanied by hormonal, neurobiological, and psychological changes. Considering a gender-based approach, this chapter discussed the underlying mechanisms and the characteristics of perinatal affective disorders in fathers, by integrating empirical evidence from neurobiological and behavioral studies with anthropological and clinical observations. Perinatal psychological distress in men can be displayed not only with traditional depressive-like symptoms, but rather through a wide array of other clinical manifestations (anxiety disorders, somatic complaints, behavioral problems, and addictions) which can overlap or mask depressive symptoms, generating complex clinical pictures. Therefore, the definition of paternal perinatal affective disorders (PPAD) has been proposed to replace the term paternal perinatal depression (PPND). Following this perspective, the chapter includes indications to implement effective prevention, screening, and early diagnosis considering male expression of paternal perinatal distress. Implications for treatment are also discussed.
... Even though this evidence is not called into question and some Parental Brain characteristics may be actually hard-wired and sex-specific, it should be acknowledged that most research in the field has failed to take the variability related to parental involvement into consideration (Provenzi et al., 2021). Stressing the importance of caregiving experience, it may also be the case that fathers' neuroendocrine system is responsive to committed parenting (Weisman et al., 2014). In this theoretical framework, it would be advisable to investigate the relationship between paternal involvement and neurobiological responses to infant cues, by focusing on functional brain activations and hormonal regulations when fathers respond to infant stimuli. ...
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As fathering research has flourished, a growing body of studies has focused on behavioral and neurobiological mechanisms, respectively associated with caregiving sensitivity and responsiveness to infant stimuli. However, the association between these aspects and the key concept of paternal involvement in childcare (i.e., contribution in infant care in terms of time, availability, and responsibility) has been poorly investigated. The current work aims to systematically review the role of involvement in childcare on both neural activations and sensitive behaviors in fathers by examining (a) how paternal involvement has been measured and (b) whether paternal involvement has been associated with neurobiological activation and behavioral sensitive responses. Inclusion criteria were peer-reviewed quantitative studies, concerning fathers responding to infant stimuli at neurobiological or behavioral level, and including a quantitative measurement of paternal involvement in childcare. A quality rating for each study has been performed based on the measurements adopted to assess paternal involvement. Of 2,529 articles, 27 studies were included. According to our quality rating, 10 out of 27 studies included fairly good-standard measures for measuring paternal involvement, whereas 17 studies used good-standard measures. In addition, 11 studies provided details of paternal involvement in the context of neurobiological responses to infant stimuli, whereas 16 addressed paternal sensitive behaviors. Overall, only 8 studies reported relevant findings about the relationship between paternal involvement and neurobiological responses or sensitive behaviors in fathers. The present study is the first systematically evaluating the scope of paternal involvement in the field of Paternal Brain and fathers' sensitive responsiveness research. When high-standard measures are used, paternal involvement seems to play a significant role in modulating both the hormonal and the neural pathways associated with paternal behaviors. Remarkably, the role of paternal engagement may underpin an adaptive nurturance that is not dependent on pregnancy and childbirth but on caregiving experience. A promising positive link between paternal involvement and behavioral sensitivity may be expected in further studies, which will need to corroborate our conclusion by adopting detailed and appropriate measures assessing paternal involvement. As a future line of research, the inclusion of gay fathers may be beneficial for the field.
... Moreover, intranasal OT administration was found to impact hormonal response in fathers and infants. OT administered to fathers markedly increased both father's and infant's salivary OT levels (Weisman et al., 2012); decreased father's cortisol (CT) (Weisman et al., 2013), and altered T levels and fluctuations (Weisman et al., 2014), all as a function of an increase in paternal and infant social behavior, including touch, gaze, and exploratory behavior. ...
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With the growing involvement of fathers in childrearing and the application of neuroscientific tools to research on parenting, there is a need to understand how a father's brain and neurohormonal systems accommodate the transition to parenthood and how such neurobiological changes impact children's mental health, sociality, and family functioning. In this paper, we present a theoretical model on the human father’s brain and the neural adaptations that take place when fathers assume an involved role. The neurobiology of fatherhood shows great variability across individuals, societies, and cultures and is shaped to a great extent by bottom-up caregiving experiences and the amount of childrearing responsibilities. Mechanisms of motherfather coparental brain coordination and hormonal correlates of paternal behavior are detailed. Adaptations in the father’s brain during pregnancy and across the postpartum year carry long-term implications for children's emotion regulation, stress management, and symptom formation. We propose a new conceptual model of HEALthy Father Brain that describes how a father’s brain serves as a source of resilience in the context of family adversity and its capacity to “heal”, protect, and foster social brain maturation and functionality in family members via paternal sensitivity, attunement, and support, which, in turn, promote child development and healthy family functioning. Father’s brain provides a unique model on neural plasticity as sustained by committed acts of caregiving, thereby affording a novel perspective on the brain basis of human affiliation.
... Following the birth of a child, T levels decline (Alvergne et al., 2009;Berg and Wynne-Edwards, 2001;Gray et al., 2006;Perini et al., 2012bPerini et al., , 2012a; however, active engagement in their child's life is required for T levels to remain low (Gray and Anderson, 2010). For example, human fathers with lower levels of circulating T gazed at and spent more time in physical contact with their young (Weisman et al., 2014). Additionally, lower T levels in fathers predicted greater child involvement (Kuo et al., 2018). ...
Article
Major life transitions often co-occur with significant fluctuations in hormones that modulate the central nervous system. These hormones enact neuroplastic mechanisms that prepare an organism to respond to novel environmental conditions and/or previously unencountered cognitive, emotional, and/or behavioral demands. In this review, we will explore several examples of how hormones mediate neuroplastic changes in order to produce adaptive responses, particularly during transitions in life stages. First, we will explore hormonal influences on social recognition in both males and females as they transition to sexual maturity. Next, we will probe the role of hormones in mediating the transitions to motherhood and fatherhood, respectively. Finally, we will survey the long-term impact of reproductive experience on neuroplasticity in females, including potential protective effects and risk factors associated with reproductive experience in mid-life and beyond. Ultimately, a more complete understanding of how hormones influence neuroplasticity throughout the lifespan, beyond development, is necessary for understanding how individuals respond to life changes in adaptive ways.
... However, we speculate on one potential pathway of transmission based on extant literature. Elevated paternal T indexes a father's own timing of sexual development (Corpuz & Bugental, 2020) and is associated with lower investment in long term relationships (e.g., Burnham et al., 2003), lower levels of paternal investment (Gettler et al., 2011;Weisman et al., 2014), and increased effort toward mating (e.g., Grebe et al., 2019). The resultant low relationship functioning is associated with elevated maternal cortisol (Ditzen et al., 2008). ...
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Objectives Infant testosterone (T) surges early in life. This period (known as mini puberty) is crucial to development. Little is known as to what the ultimate function of mini puberty might be. We predicted that parents with putative endocrine signatures of challenging environments (elevated levels of maternal cortisol and paternal T) may be related to elevated levels of infant T. In turn, these endocrine relationships are hypothesized to influence infant growth.Methods In a U.S. sample (n = 225 families) of first-time parents and their infants, we measured infant length and weight at three occasions—birth, 3 months old, and 10 months old. We conducted salivary assays of infants for T, mothers for cortisol, and paternal T during the early postnatal period.ResultsWe utilized latent growth curve modeling to explore changes in length and weight as predicted by infant T. Infant T predicted the slope of length gains across the study period. Maternal cortisol and paternal T (positively correlated with one another) were positively related to infant T. Neither maternal cortisol nor paternal T predicted the slope of length gains. In an exploratory model, temperament was not related to neuroendocrine measures. Gains in weight—unlike length—were not related to infant T.Conclusions The ultimate function of mini puberty in infant growth is nuanced. In addition—at a time of rapid hormone changes across mothers, fathers, and infants—our results suggest that a tripartite neuroendocrine relationship is conceivable. Discussion surrounds the potential role of mini puberty and the numerous limitations of the study.
... In the last decade, research has demonstrated that the male is on a natural biological evolution when caring for children, which is evidenced by hormonal and neurobiological changes that occur when fathers care for newborns (2)(3)(4)(5)(6)(7). These biological changes are related to increased levels of oxytocin (which favors empathic abilities, social activities, and willingness to play) (8,9), the decrease in testosterone and estradiol (which makes fathers more sensitive, less aggressive and better disposed toward newborn and mother) (10)(11)(12)(13), higher levels of prolactin (which increases when the baby cries or is more vulnerable and in need of care) (14,15), vasopressin (which in animals favors the territoriality and protection of the partner) and cortisol, a classic stress hormone (which intensifies attention toward the newborn, but which decreases during the "Skin to skin" contact) (8,14). A higher prenatal level of cortisol, however, is predictive of a lower quality of postnatal parenting of fathers (16). ...
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Background: Most studies on parental reactions to a preterm birth and to hospitalization of the newborn in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) have involved mothers. However, emotional responses and behaviors of fathers are equally important. Usually, the father is the first to meet the preterm newborn, to find out information about baby's condition and to communicate to the mother and other family members. In this context he is often left alone and can show psychological difficulties including affective disorders such as depression or anxiety. This paper describes the role of fathers in the NICU, the best practices to support fathers, and to explain the role of a psychologist in the NICU staff. Considerations and suggestions are provided on the difficulties encountered to support parents, with a focus on the role of fathers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods and Discussion: Considering contemporary research data and following an attachment perspective, we analyze the role of the father of a preterm-born child in the relation with the partner and in newborn caring. Research has shown that involving fathers in newborn care in NICU and at home is essential not only because it promotes the father/son attachment relationship and has positive effects on the psychological and somatic development of the newborn, but also for the health of the mother and whole family. Conclusion: Recommendations are provided to enhance the functions of fathers in the NICU, promote their involvement in the care of their infant, and interventions to prevent the manifestation of psychological suffering and/or perinatal affective disorders. The commitments of a psychologist in a NICU team are presented and require not only clinical skills, but also the ability to manage the emotional and relational difficulties of fathers, family and NICU staff. Considerations and suggestions are provided on the difficulties encountered by parents in the NICU during the COVID-19 pandemic.
... The physiological and psychological mechanisms that help solve one of these adaptive problems may be unhelpful with the other. For example, elevated levels of testosterone are associated with increased success in competing for mates (e.g., Gettler et al., 2011), but also with reduced commitment to one's mate, reduced investment in parenting, and reduced quality of caretaking (see Beall and Schaller, 2017;Burnham et al., 2003;Gray et al., 2006;Weisman et al., 2014). ...
Chapter
The cognitive revolution reshaped our understanding of psychology by considering the mind as an assemblage of information-processing mechanisms. A central proposition of this computational theory of mind was that, to understand human behavior, we must attend to the information-processing mechanisms responsible for producing it. Despite the indispensability of the concept of the psychological mechanism for understanding psychology, this fundamental idea remains absent from many psychologists' toolkits. We propose that a major hindrance to progress is a confusion about key terms and concepts in cognitive psychology and evolutionary biology. In this chapter, we first discuss two key terms and concepts: psychological mechanism and human nature. We then present a three-component model of a psychological mechanism and articulate key properties of evolved psychological mechanisms (EPMs), emphasizing their sensitivity to environmental inputs and their highly flexible outputs. Next, we argue that this central feature of EPMs-their variable behavioral output in response to variable environmental contexts-renders the EPM an invaluable conceptual tool for use in multiple key branches of the psychological sciences. This includes all disciplines in the psychological sciences interested in stable between-individual variation or flexible within-individual variation in response to situational influences: personality , social, developmental, and cross-cultural psychology. We conclude by outlining how the EPM concept can be readily and profitably employed in these key branches of psychology to advance the state of our science.
... The fact that the external signs of pathology were significantly more frequent in non-lactating adult females than in lactating females (Fig. 2b) might be related to the immunological properties of oxytocin, produced during lactation to regulate milk production (Wang 2016). On the contrary, testosterone in males can weaken the immune system, potentially explaining the more frequent signs of pathology in adult males than adult females (Roberts et al. 2004;Weisman et al. 2014;Muller 2017). Another, nonexclusive explanation is that females with abnormal swelling may be in poorer health conditions and therefore less able to reproduce (Nguyen et al. 2015). ...
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Human–primate interfaces are expanding and, despite recent studies on primates from peri-urban environments, little research exists on the impact of agriculture and/or pasture areas on primate social behavior and health. We assessed how crop/pasture areas potentially alter social behavior and health of wild geladas ( Theropithecus gelada ) frequenting the unprotected area of Kundi (Ethiopia). We predicted that compared to pasture areas, crop areas (i) would be more challenging for geladas (prediction 1) and (ii) would have a greater impact on both aggressive and affiliative behavior, by reducing grooming time and enhancing competition (prediction 2). During January–May 2019 and December 2019–February 2020, we collected data (via scan, focal animal sampling, and video analyses) on direct human disturbance, external signs of pathologies and social behavior of 140 individuals from 14 one-male units and two all-male units. Animals experienced the highest level of human disturbance in crop areas (in line with prediction 1). Individuals from the groups preferentially frequenting crop areas showed the highest prevalence of external signs of pathologies consistent with chemical and biological contamination (alopecia/abnormally swollen parts). We collected 48 fecal samples. Samples from frequent crop users contained the highest rates of parasitic elements/gram (egg/larva/oocyst/cyst) from Entamoeba histolytica/dispar , a parasite common in human settlements of the Amhara region. In crop areas, subjects spent less time grooming but engaged in lower rates of intense aggression (in partial agreement with prediction 2). We speculate that the reduction in social behavior may be a tactic adopted by geladas to minimize the likelihood of detection and maximize food intake while foraging in crops.
... The research field on parent-child interaction in typical development is slowly, yet consistently, increasing the attention given to father-child interaction (Abraham et al., 2014;Scism & Cobb, 2017;Weisman, Zagoory-Sharon, & Feldman, 2014). This systematic review also reflects the partial inclusion of fathers in this field. ...
Article
Background Parent-child interaction is essential to promote adaptive emotional, cognitive, and social development. The majority of previous research on parent-child interaction is largely dependent on face-to-face exchanges that require the interactive partners to visually recognize reciprocal communicative bids. Therefore, previous findings in the field can only partially apply to the early interactive patterns occurring between visually impaired infants and their parents. The present study was aimed to systematically review the available evidence on parent-child interaction in the context of developmental visual impairment. Methods Fourteen papers were finally selected after literature search on PubMed and Scopus. Data synthesis was focused on three core topics: visually impaired children’s contribution to the interaction, parental caregiving behaviors with visually impaired children, and the association between parents’ behaviors and the developmental outcomes of children with visual impairment. Results Visually impaired children may exhibit reduced reactivity to maternal stimuli and less-than-optimal levels of interactive initiations in social exchanges. Parents of children with visual impairment may use more descriptive communicative acts and greater directiveness compared to mothers of sighted counterparts. Specific caregiving behaviors (e.g., responsiveness and goal setting) of parents of children with visual impairment may significantly support language and socio-emotional development as well as sensorimotor integration. Discussion Children with visual impairment may be less responsive and they may produce less clear communicative bids while interacting with their parents. Their parents may face specific challenges while engaging with them and they may become increasingly directive and intrusive. Nonetheless, even in the presence of visual impairment, the quality of parental caregiving behaviors appears to play a potential preventive role in the face of children’s socio-emotional and cognitive outcomes. These results suggest that early interventions focused on parent-child interactions are especially needed in this population.
... Accordingly, stable relationships and fatherhood have been associated with a decrease in testosterone levels in men (for reviews see Gray, McHale, & Carré, 2015;Grebe, Sarafin, Strenth, & Zilioli, 2019). Low testosterone levels have also been connected to increased paternal responsiveness to infants and better quality of paternal care (e.g., Gettler, Lew-Levy, Sarma, Miegakanda, & Boyette, 2020;Kuo et al., 2018;Mascaro, Hackett, & Rilling, 2013;Mascaro, Hackett, & Rilling, 2014;Storey, Noseworthy, Delahunty, Halfyard, & McKay, 2011;Weisman, Zagoory-Sharon, & Feldman, 2014; for reviews see Gettler, 2020;Meijer, Ijzendoorn, & Bakermans, 2019). Thus, testosterone has been generally assumed to be antagonistic to paternal care (e.g., Rilling & Mascaro, 2017;Storey & Ziegler, 2015). ...
Article
The baby schema elicits care from potential caregivers. However, much of the research on the baby-schema is based on self-report only. To address this issue, we explored the effects of baby schema and child age on facial expressions (EMG), and eye-blink startle, in addition to self-reported liking and caring for 43 men and 48 women (39 parents). Further, basal testosterone was assessed. All groups responded with liking and caring to high baby schema, but only women also responded with more positive facial expressions. Caring and smiling towards infants compared to first graders depended on parenthood and testosterone levels. Basal testosterone levels were associated with overall reduced responsiveness to children in women and fathers, but positively in non-fathers. Whereas the baby schema overall lead to positive affect and caring, the scope of these responses and the processes underlying them, depended on gender, parenthood and hormonal status.
... Other recent work has showed that there are similar neurobiologic bonding mechanisms between human-human and owner-dog pairs, including evidence of increased levels of oxytocin, beta-endorphin, prolactin, betaphenylethylamine, and dopamine in pet owners and their dogs during and after positive interactions (Handlin et al., 2011). Affiliative hormones like prolactin and oxytocin have been shown to promote mother-child bonding (Numan & Young, 2016), and oxytocin has also been found to promote more positive paternal behaviors in men, including greater positive affect and increased physical contact with their infants (Weisman, Zagoory-Sharon, & Feldman, 2014). Thus, the hormone increases revealed in human-animal interactions indicates that people and their pets are forming attachment bonds as parents and children do, bolstering our contention that people often bond with their pets because they assign human characteristics to them and treat them like humans in some respects. ...
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Pets play an important role in their owners’ lives and are often viewed as family members. However, research on human-animal relationships suggests that pet owners often receive relatively less emotional support when experiencing grief after the death of a beloved pet, a phenomenon known as disenfranchised grief. In this internet-based survey study, we explored how people experienced grief surrounding the loss of their pets, and how this experience mirrors emotions that result from the death of a human loved one. We examined how factors such as anthropomorphism, attachment to a pet, and social support influence the grief experience. We also explored how feelings of guilt and shame play a role when grieving the loss of a pet. We found that grief over the loss of a pet is similar to grieving a human loved one in large part due to the anthropomorphic qualities attribute that owners attribute to their pets. Avenues for future exploration of the psychological impact of pet ownership are discussed.
... In fathers, oxytocin has been specifically implicated in stimulatory parenting behaviors Scatliffe et al., 2019) supporting father-infant attachment (George et al., 2010). Furthermore, experimentally administered oxytocin levels elicit more stimulating play in fathers (i.e., interactions that promote child exploration, often described as "rough and tumble" play; Gordon et al., 2010;Naber et al., 2010;Weisman et al., 2014). However, to our knowledge, no study has assessed whether prenatal oxytocin levels in expectant fathers are linked with enhanced postpartum caregiving outcomes or attitudes. ...
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Social cognition may facilitate fathers' sensitive caregiving behavior. We administered the Why‐How Task, an fMRI task that elicits theory of mind processing, to expectant fathers (n = 39) who also visited the laboratory during their partner's pregnancy and provided a plasma sample for oxytocin assay. Three months postpartum, fathers reported their beliefs about parenting. When rating “Why” an action was being performed versus “How” the action was being performed (Why > How contrast), participants showed activation in regions theorized to support theory of mind, including the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex and superior temporal sulcus. Fathers' prenatal oxytocin levels predicted greater signal change during the Why > How contrast in the inferior parietal lobule. Both prenatal oxytocin and attunement parenting beliefs were associated with Why > How activation in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a theory of mind region implicated in emotion regulation. Posterior parahippocampal gyrus and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex activation during the Why > How contrast predicted fathers' attunement parenting beliefs. In conclusion, fathers' neural activation when engaging in a theory of mind task was associated with their prenatal oxytocin levels and their postpartum attunement parenting beliefs. Results suggest biological and cognitive components of fathering may track with the theory of mind processing.
... Muller et al. (2009) compared two African groups showing that high and low parental investment groups differed in testosterone levels in predicted directions. Laboratory studies of human fathers have also shown complex relationships between oxytocin, testosterone and paternal caring (Weisman et al., 2014). Crucially the way testosterone affects male behavior and status seeking is linked to context. ...
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For thousands of years, various spiritual traditions and social activists have appealed to humans to adopt compassionate ways of living to address the suffering of life. Yet, along with our potential for compassion and self-sacrifice, the last few thousand years of wars, slavery, tortures, and holocausts have shown humans can be extraordinarily selfish, callous, vicious, and cruel. While there has been considerable engagement with these issues, particularly in the area of moral psychology and ethics, this paper explores an evolutionary analysis relating to evolved resource-regulation strategies that can be called “ care and share ” versus “ control and hold .” Control and hold are typical of primates that operate through intimidatory social hierarchies. Care and share are less common in non-human primates, but evolved radically in humans during our hunter-gatherer stage when our ancestors lived in relatively interdependent, small, mobile groups. In these groups, individualistic, self-focus, and self-promoting control and hold strategies (trying to secure and accumulate more than others) were shunned and shamed. These caring and sharing hunter-gatherer lifestyles also created the social contexts for the evolution of new forms of childcare and complex human competencies for language, reasoning, planning, empathy, and self-awareness. As a result of our new ‘intelligence’, our ancestors developed agriculture that reduced mobility, increased group size, resource availability and storage, and resource competition. These re-introduced competing for, rather than sharing of, resources and advantaged those who now pursue (often aggressively) control and hold strategies. Many of our most typical forms of oppressive and anti-compassionate behavior are the result of these strategies. Rather than (just) thinking about individuals competing with one another, we can also consider these different resource regulation strategies as competing within populations shaping psychophysiological patterns; both wealth and poverty change the brain. One of the challenges to creating a more compassionate society is to find ways to create the social and economic conditions that regulate control and hold strategies and promote care and share. No easy task.
... 1. The decrease of testosterone and estradiol (which makes fathers more sensitive, less aggressive, and better disposed toward the newborn and the mother) [19][20][21], particularly if the father is involved in the care of the newborn. Research and meta-analytic studies have confirmed that fathers tend to have lower testosterone levels than other males and that fathers with lower testosterone levels tend to look after their children better [22]. ...
Chapter
Nowadays, the functions and roles of the father are the consequence of a gradual transition from a "patriarchal" family to a contemporary family organization. New fathers today, are increasingly the point of reference of the mother, particularly during the perinatal period, and are ever more involved in the care of their offspring. The significant adjustments in the paternal functions are also accompanied by hormonal, neurobiological and psychological changes. Considering a gender-based approach, this chapter discussed the underlying mechanisms and the characteristics of perinatal affective disorders in fathers, by integrating empirical evidence from neurobiological and behavioral studies with anthropological and clinical observations. Perinatal psychological distress in men can be displayed, not only with traditional depressive-like symptoms, but rather through a wide array of other clinical manifestations (anxiety disorders, somatic complains, behavioral problems, and addictions) which can overlap or mask depressive symptoms, generating complex clinical pictures. Therefore, the definition of Paternal Perinatal Affective Disorders (PPAD) has been proposed to replace the term Paternal Perinatal Depression (PPND). Following this perspective, the chapter includes indications to implement effective prevention, screening and early diagnosis considering male expression of paternal perinatal distress. Implications for treatment are also discussed.
... Such parent-specific brain responses have been referred to as the global human caregiving network ( Abraham et al., 2014 ;Feldman et al., 2019 ) or the parental brain ( Abraham et al., 2016 ). This network in- ( Gordon et al., 2010 ), whereas a lower testosterone level is associated with more optimal father-infant social interaction ( Weisman et al., 2014 ). These findings raise further important questions regarding how and when such paternal phenotype variability emerges in human males. ...
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The human parenting brain network mediates caregiving behaviors. When exposed to the stimuli of their infants, compared with non-parents, both fathers and mothers exhibit distinct patterns of neural activation. As human males, relative to females, do not undergo robust physiological changes during pregnancy, when and how the paternal brain networks begin to form remains unclear. Thus, using functional MRI, we examined brain activation in response to infant-interaction videos in two groups, childless males and first-time expectant fathers during their partners’ early pregnancy before remarkable changes in their partners’ appearances commenced. Multivoxel pattern analysis revealed that expectant fathers’ left anterior insula and inferior frontal gyrus showed incipient changes in response to parenthood during early pregnancy. Furthermore, these changes were associated with several paternal traits, such as a negative image toward parenting. Such external factors might influence the paternal brain's development during early pregnancy.
... ound to be more interested in extra-pair affairs (Edelstein, Chopik, & Kean, 2011;McIntyre, Gangestad, Gray, Chapman, Burnham, O'Rourke, & Thornhill, 2006), while being less interested in infant-relevant stimuli (Fleming, Corter, Stallings, & Steiner, 2002;Roney, Hanson, Durante, & Maestripieri, 2006.;Storey, Walsh, Quinton, & Wynne-Edwards, 2000.;Weisman, Zagoory-Sharon, & Feldman, 2014), and families and parenting (Alvergne, Faurie, & Raymond, 2009;Mascaro, Hackett, & Rilling, 2013). ...
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What motives do people prioritize in their social lives? Historically, social psychologists, especially those adopting an evolutionary perspective, have devoted a great deal of research attention to sexual attraction and romantic partner choice (mate-seeking). Research on long-term familial bonds (mate retention and kin care) has been less thoroughly connected to relevant comparative and evolutionary work on other species, and in the case of kin care, less well researched. Examining varied sources of data from 27 societies around the world, we found that people generally view familial motives as primary in importance, and mate-seeking motives as relatively low in importance. College students, single people, and males place relatively higher emphasis on mate-seeking, but even those samples rated kin care motives as more important. Further, motives linked to long-term familial bonds are positively associated with psychological well-being, but mate-seeking motives are associated with anxiety and depression. We address theoretical and empirical reasons why there has been extensive research on mate-seeking, and why people prioritize goals related to long-term familial bonds over mating goals. Reallocating relatively greater research effort toward long-term familial relationships would likely yield many interesting new findings relevant to everyday people’s highest social priorities.
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Social contact is known to impact the partners' physiology and behavior but the mechanisms underpinning such inter-partner influences are far from clear. Guided by the biobehavioral synchrony conceptual frame, we examined how social dialogue shapes the partners' multi-system endocrine response as mediated by behavioral synchrony. To address sex-specific, hormone-specific, attachment-specific mechanisms, we recruited 82 man–woman pairs (N = 164 participants) in three attachment groups; long-term couples (n = 29), best friends (n = 26), and ingroup strangers (n = 27). We used salivary measures of oxytocin (OT), cortisol (CT), testosterone (T), and secretory immuglobolinA (s-IgA), biomarker of the immune system, before and after a 30-min social dialogue. Dialogue increased oxytocin and reduced cortisol and testosterone. Cross-person cross-hormone influences indicated that dialogue carries distinct effects on women and men as mediated by social behavior and attachment status. Men's baseline stress-related biomarkers showed both direct hormone-to-hormone associations and, via attachment status and behavioral synchrony, impacted women's post-dialogue biomarkers of stress, affiliation, and immunity. In contrast, women's baseline stress biomarkers linked with men's stress response only through the mediating role of behavioral synchrony. As to affiliation biomarkers, men's initial OT impacted women's OT response only through behavioral synchrony, whereas women's baseline OT was directly related to men's post-dialogue OT levels. Findings pinpoint the neuroendocrine advantage of social dialogue, suggest that women are more sensitive to signs of men's initial stress and social status, and describe behavior-based mechanisms by which human attachments create a coupled biology toward greater well-being and resilience.
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Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder estimated by the World Health Organization to occur in one of 160 children worldwide. No pharmaceutical treatments are available to improve the deficits in social communication that are common symptoms of ASD. Recent clinical trials have focused on the nasal application of oxytocin, a neuronal peptide known to regulate a variety of social behaviors. However, the effect of oxytocin on this deficit is inconclusive. In contrast, evidence from ASD animal model studies indicates that when animals are treated with oxytocin during early development, improvements in social deficits are observed in adulthood. Thus, it is necessary to examine the effect of therapeutic target medication prescribed in early development. Mice prenatally exposed to valproic acid (VPA) are widely used as an animal model of ASD. However, many behavioral studies have been conducted during adulthood rather than early development. To establish a screening system to identify therapeutic drugs that are effective when delivered during the early postnatal period, it is important to examine the early developmental changes in their communicative behaviors. Here, we examined the ultrasonic vocalization (USV) of VPA‐exposed mice pups during their early postnatal developmental days. USV rates were comparable to those of the controls until the first week of their life but declined more on postnatal day 11. We checked the expression of oxytocin system in the hypothalamus and found the downregulation of oxytocin and CD38, and upregulation of oxytocin receptor in the VPA pups. Acute administration of oxytocin on postnatal day 11 increased the call rate of VPA pups. Taken together, we demonstrated there was a deficiency in the oxytocinergic signaling in the VPA pups and showed the existence of time periods that are effective to screen the therapeutic drugs.
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Parental sensitivity has been studied extensively in parenting research. Recently, there has been increasing attention to endocrine factors that may be related to parental sensitivity, such as oxytocin, vasopressin, testosterone, and cortisol. Although hormones do not act in isolation, few studies integrated multiple hormones and examined their combined associations with parental sensitivity. The current study aimed to explore the hormonal correlates of paternal sensitivity by examining in 79 first-time fathers of young infants (2–4 months old) (1) the separate and combined associations of basal oxytocin, vasopressin, testosterone, and cortisol levels with sensitivity, and (2) the associations between paternal sensitivity and oxytocin, vasopressin, testosterone, and cortisol reactivity following father-infant interactions. We additionally explored whether interactions between the various basal hormone levels could predict paternal sensitivity. Saliva for the quantification of fathers' hormone levels was sampled before and after an interaction with their infant to determine basal levels and reactivity. Results revealed no significant associations between sensitivity and basal hormone levels or reactivity. However, results indicated that cortisol and testosterone interacted in their effects on paternal sensitive parenting. Namely, fathers with low basal cortisol levels showed more sensitivity with increasing T levels, but fathers with high cortisol levels were less sensitive with increasing T levels. However, it should be noted that the latter slope was not significantly different from zero. These findings suggest that variations in parental sensitivity might be better explained by interactions between hormones than by single hormone levels.
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A combination of field and laboratory investigations has revealed that the temporal patterns of testosterone (T) levels in blood can vary markedly among populations and individuals, and even within individuals from one year to the next. Although T is known to regulate reproductive behavior (both sexual and aggressive) and thus could be expected to correlate with mating systems, it is clear that the absolute levels of T in blood are not always indicative of reproductive state. Rather, the pattern and amplitude of change in T levels are far more useful in making predictions about the hormonal basis of mating systems and breeding strategies. In these contexts we present a model that compares the amplitude of change in T level with the degree of parental care shown by individual males. On the basis of data collected from male birds breeding in natural or captive conditions, polygynous males appear less responsive to social environmental cues than are monogamous males. This model indicates that there may be widely different hormonal responses to male-male and male-female interactions and presumably equally plastic neural mechanisms for the transduction of these signals into endocrine secretions. Furthermore, evidence from other vertebrate taxa suggests strongly that the model is applicable to other classes
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Reciprocity - the capacity to engage in social exchange that integrates inputs from multiple partners into a unified social event - is a cornerstone of adaptive social life that is learned within dyad-specific attachments during an early period of neuroplasticity. Yet, very little research traced the expression of children's reciprocity with their mother and father in relation to long-term outcomes. Guided by evolutionary models, we followed mothers, fathers, and their firstborn child longitudinally and observed mother-child and father-child reciprocity in infancy, preschool, and adolescence. In preschool, children's social competence, aggression, and prosocial behavior were observed at kindergarten. In adolescence, children's dialogical skills were assessed during positive and conflict interactions with same-sex best friends. Father-child and mother-child reciprocity were individually stable, inter-related at each stage, and consisted of distinct behavioral components. Structural equation modeling indicated that early maternal and paternal reciprocity were each uniquely predictive of social competence and lower aggression in preschool, which, in turn, shaped dialogical skills in adolescence. Father-adolescent reciprocity contributed to the dialogical negotiation of conflict, whereas mother-adolescent reciprocity predicted adolescents' dialogical skills during positive exchanges. Results highlight the role of parent-child reciprocity in shaping children's social collaboration and intimate relationships with non-kin members of their social world.
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Research on the neurobiology of parenting has defined biobehavioral synchrony, the coordination of biological and behavioral responses between parent and child, as a central process underpinning mammalian bond formation. Bi-parental rearing, typically observed in monogamous species, is similarly thought to draw on mechanisms of mother-father synchrony. We examined synchrony in mothers' and fathers' brain response to ecologically valid infant cues. Thirty mothers and fathers, comprising 15 couples parenting 4- to 6-month-old infants, were visited at home, and infant play was videotaped. Parents then underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging scanning while observing own-infant compared with standard-infant videos. Coordination in brain response between mothers and fathers was assessed using a voxel-by-voxel algorithm, and gender-specific activations were also tested. Plasma oxytocin and arginine vasopressin, neuropeptides implicated in female and male bonding, were examined as correlates. Online coordination in maternal and paternal brain activations emerged in social-cognitive networks implicated in empathy and social cognition. Mothers showed higher amygdala activations and correlations between amygdala response and oxytocin. Fathers showed greater activations in social-cognitive circuits, which correlated with vasopressin. Parents coordinate online activity in social-cognitive networks that support intuitive understanding of infant signals and planning of adequate caregiving, whereas motivational-limbic activations may be gender specific. Although preliminary, these findings demonstrate synchrony in the brain response of two individuals within an attachment relationship, and may suggest that human attachment develops within the matrix of biological attunement and brain-to-brain synchrony between attachment partners.
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Oxytocin seems associated with parenting style, and experimental work showed positive effects of intranasally administered oxytocin on parenting style of fathers. Here, the first double-blind, placebo-controlled, within-subject experiment with intranasal oxytocin administration to fathers of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is presented. Fathers with their typically developing toddler (n = 18), and fathers of toddlers diagnosed with ASD (n = 14), were observed in two play sessions of 15 min each with an intervening period of 1 week. In all fathers oxytocin elevated the quality of paternal sensitive play: fathers stimulated their child in a more optimal way, and they showed less hostility which suggests the positive effects of oxytocin on paternal sensitive play irrespective of clinical status of their child.
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The functions of rapid increases in testosterone seem paradoxical because they can occur in response to different social contexts, such as male–male aggressive encounters and male–female sexual encounters. This suggests that context may impact the functional consequences of changes in testosterone, whether transient or long term. Many studies, including those with California mice (Peromyscus californicus), have addressed these issues using manipulations and species comparisons, but many areas remain to be investigated. We report a study here that suggests transient increases in testosterone after social competition influence future competitive behavior, but social experience alone may also be critical in determining future behavior. In other rodents, a comparable testosterone surge occurs in response to sexual stimulation, but the function is not entirely understood. In addition to competitive and sexual behavior, testosterone impacts other systems instrumental to social behaviors, including paternal behavior and degree of monogamy. Thus, mechanisms regulated by testosterone, such as the vasopressin and aromatase systems, may also be influenced by rapid surges of testosterone in aggressive or sexual contexts. We discuss how the functions of testosterone may overlap in some contexts.
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In species in which males care for young, testosterone (T) is often high during mating periods but then declines to allow for caregiving of resulting offspring. This model may apply to human males, but past human studies of T and fatherhood have been cross-sectional, making it unclear whether fatherhood suppresses T or if men with lower T are more likely to become fathers. Here, we use a large representative study in the Philippines (n = 624) to show that among single nonfathers at baseline (2005) (21.5 ± 0.3 y), men with high waking T were more likely to become partnered fathers by the time of follow-up 4.5 y later (P < 0.05). Men who became partnered fathers then experienced large declines in waking (median: -26%) and evening (median: -34%) T, which were significantly greater than declines in single nonfathers (P < 0.001). Consistent with the hypothesis that child interaction suppresses T, fathers reporting 3 h or more of daily childcare had lower T at follow-up compared with fathers not involved in care (P < 0.05). Using longitudinal data, these findings show that T and reproductive strategy have bidirectional relationships in human males, with high T predicting subsequent mating success but then declining rapidly after men become fathers. Our findings suggest that T mediates tradeoffs between mating and parenting in humans, as seen in other species in which fathers care for young. They also highlight one likely explanation for previously observed health disparities between partnered fathers and single men.
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Hormonal differences between fathers and non-fathers may reflect an effect of paternal care on hormones. However, few studies have evaluated the hormonal responses of fathers after interacting with their offspring. Here we report results of a 30-minute in-home experiment in which Filipino fathers played with their toddlers and consider whether paternal experience and men's perceptions of themselves as fathers affect hormonal changes. Fathers provided saliva and dried blood spot samples at baseline (B) and 30 (P30) and 60 (P60, saliva only) minutes after the interaction. We tested whether testosterone (T), cortisol (CORT), and prolactin (PRL) shifted after the intervention. In the total sample, T did not vary over the study period, while CORT declined from B to P30 and P60, and PRL also declined from B to P30. Fathers who spent more time in daily caregiving and men who thought their spouses evaluated them positively as parental caregivers experienced a larger decline in PRL (B to P30) compared to other fathers. First-time fathers also had larger declines in PRL compared to experienced fathers. Experienced fathers also showed a greater decline in CORT (B to P60) compared to first-time fathers. These results suggest that males' paternal experience and age of offspring affect hormonal responses to father-child play and that there is a psychobiological connection between men's perceptions of themselves as fathers and their hormonal responsivity to childcare.
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In the monogamous and biparental California mouse (Peromyscus californicus), paternal care is critical for maximal offspring survival. Animals form pair bonds and do not engage in extrapair matings, and thus female evaluation of paternal quality during courtship is likely to be advantageous. We hypothesized that male endocrine or behavioral response to courtship interactions would be predictive of future paternal behavior. To test this hypothesis, we formed 20 pairs of California mice, and evaluated their behavior during the first hour of courtship interactions and again following the birth of young. We also collected blood from males at baseline, 1 hr after pairing, 3 weeks paired, and when young were 4 days old to measure testosterone (T). We found that male T-response to courtship interactions predicted future paternal behavior, specifically the amount of time he huddled over young when challenged by the temporary removal of his mate. Males that mounted T increases at courtship also approached pups more quickly during this challenge than males who had a significant decrease in T at courtship. Proximity of the male and female during courtship predicted paternal huddling during a 1-hr observation, and a multiple regression analysis revealed that courtship behavior was also predictive of birth latency. We speculate that male T-response to a female in P. californicus is an honest indicator of paternal quality, and if detectable by females could provide a basis for evaluation during mate choice.
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In species with a high level of paternal care, including humans, testosterone (T) is believed to help mediate the trade-off between parenting and mating effort. This hypothesis is supported by the observation of lower T in pairbonded men or fathers compared to single, non-fathers; however, prior work has highlighted population variation in the association between T and pairbonding or fatherhood status. Here we evaluate this hypothesis in a large (n=890), representative birth cohort of young men (age range 20.5-22.5 years) living in Cebu City, the Philippines. Bioavailable T was measured in saliva collected prior to bed and immediately upon waking the following morning. Plasma T and luteinizing hormone (LH) were measured in morning plasma samples. In this sample, 20% of men were pairbonded, defined as living with a partner or married, 13% were fathers, and roughly half of fathers reported involvement in childcare. Pairbonded men had significantly lower T at both times of day. Unlike in other populations, this relationship was accounted for entirely by fatherhood status: among the large sub-sample of non-fathers, mean T was nearly identical among pairbonded and single men. There was a strong association between self-reported involvement in childcare and lower evening T, supporting the idea that the evening nadir in T is related to social interactions across the day. Similar relationships were found for total plasma T and LH, suggesting that these relationships are coordinated by centrally-mediated changes in LH secretion. The relatively modest T difference in relation to fatherhood at Cebu, in comparison to other studies, may reflect a lower level of paternal involvement in childcare activities in this population. Our findings using a large, well-characterized birth cohort support the hypothesized role of T as a mediator of mating and parenting effort in humans, while contributing evidence for cultural variation in the relative importance of pairbonding and fathering to these relationships.
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In nonhuman mammals, the neuropeptide oxytocin has repeatedly been shown to increase social approach behavior and pair bonding. In particular, central nervous oxytocin reduces behavioral and neuroendocrine responses to social stress and is suggested to mediate the rewarding aspects of attachment in highly social species. However, to date there have been no studies investigating the effects of central oxytocin mechanisms on behavior and physiology in human couple interaction. In a double-blind placebo-controlled design, 47 heterosexual couples (total n = 94) received oxytocin or placebo intranasally before a standard instructed couple conflict discussion in the laboratory. The conflict session was videotaped and coded for verbal and nonverbal interaction behavior (e.g., eye contact, nonverbal positive behavior, and self-disclosure). Salivary cortisol was repeatedly measured during the experiment. Oxytocin significantly increased positive communication behavior in relation to negative behavior during the couple conflict discussion (F = 4.18, p = .047) and significantly reduced salivary cortisol levels after the conflict compared with placebo (F = 7.14, p = .011). These results are in line with animal studies indicating that central oxytocin facilitates approach and pair bonding behavior. Our findings imply an involvement of oxytocin in couple interaction and close relationships in humans.
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Common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) males are bi-parental non-human primates that show extensive paternal behaviour. Fathers are in direct sensory contact with their infants during the natal period. We found that fathers exposed to isolated scents of their infant displayed a significant drop in serum testosterone levels within 20min after exposure, whereas parentally naive males did not. These data suggest that infant's scent may have a causal role in regulating paternal testosterone in their fathers. This is the first study to demonstrate that olfactory cues have an acute effect on paternal care.
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The effect of the neurohypophysial hormones oxytocin and arginine vasopressin (AVP) on testicular steroidogenesis was reevaluated by use of short-term (< 10 h) cultures of isolated adult rat Leydig cells. Oxytocin at 10(-9), 10(-7), and 10(-5) M concentrations significantly increased basal testosterone production in a dose-dependent manner but had no effect on LH-stimulated testosterone production. The specificity of the effect was determined by use of the specific oxytocin receptor antagonist (OTA). OTA from 10(-9) to 10(-5) M concentrations inhibited the oxytocin-stimulated increase in testosterone production. Furthermore, the oxytocin agonist Thr4 Gly7 oxytocin also induced a dose-dependent increase in basal testosterone production. In contrast, AVP from 10(-9) to 10(-5) M concentrations did not consistently affect basal testosterone production by isolated Leydig cells, but significantly decreased LH-stimulated testosterone production. Inclusion of 10(-7) and 10(-5) M OTA with 10(-7) M AVP did not alter the inhibitory effect of the AVP. These data show that oxytocin and AVP have different effects on testosterone production by Leydig cells in vitro and support the hypothesis that oxytocin acts in the testis through a specific oxytocin receptor.
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Although high testosterone (T) levels inhibit paternal behaviour in birds breeding in temperate zones many paternal mammals have a very different breeding biology, characterized by a post-partum oestrus. In species with post-partum oestrus, males may engage in T-dependent behaviours such as aggression and copulation simultaneously with paternal behaviour. We previously found that T promotes paternal behaviour in the California mouse, Peromyscus californicus. We examine whether this effect is mediated by the conversion of T to oestradiol (E(2)) by aromatase. In the first experiment, gonadectomized males treated with T or E(2) implants showed higher levels of huddling and pup grooming behaviour than gonadectomized males treated with dihydrotestosterone or empty implants. In the second experiment, we used an aromatase inhibitor (fadrozole) (FAD) to confirm these results. Gonadectomized males treated with T + vehicle or E(2) + FAD showed higher levels of huddling and pup grooming behaviour than gonadectomized males treated with T + FAD or empty implants. Although E(2) is known to promote the onset of maternal behaviour to our knowledge our results are the first to demonstrate that E(2) can promote paternal behaviour in a paternal mammal. These results may explain how mammals express paternal behaviour while T levels are elevated.
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An infant-oriented parental repertoire contributes to an infant's development and well-being. The role of oxytocin (OT) in promoting affiliative bonds and parenting has been established in numerous animal and human studies. Recently, acute administration of OT to a parent was found to enhance the carer's, but at the same time also the infant's, physiological and behavioural readiness for dyadic social engagement. Yet, the exact cues that are involved in this affiliative transmission process remain unclear. The existing literature suggests that motion and vocalization are key social signals for the offspring that facilitates social participation, and that distance and motion perception are modulated by OT in humans. Here, we employed a computational method on video vignettes of human parent-infant interaction including 32 fathers that were administered OT or a placebo in a crossover experimental design. Results indicate that OT modulates parental proximity to the infant, as well as the father's head speed and head acceleration but not the father's vocalization during dyadic interaction. Similarly, the infant's OT reactivity is positively correlated with father's head acceleration. The current findings are the first to report a relationship between the OT system and parental motion characteristics, further suggesting that the cross-generation transmission of parenting in humans might be underlaid by nuanced, infant-oriented, gestures relating to the carer's proximity, speed and acceleration within the dyadic context.
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This review examines the hypothesis that oxytocin pathways-which include the neuropeptide oxytocin, the related peptide vasopressin, and their receptors-are at the center of physiological and genetic systems that permitted the evolution of the human nervous system and allowed the expression of contemporary human sociality. Unique actions of oxytocin, including the facilitation of birth, lactation, maternal behavior, genetic regulation of the growth of the neocortex, and the maintenance of the blood supply to the cortex, may have been necessary for encephalization. Peptide-facilitated attachment also allows the extended periods of nurture necessary for the emergence of human intellectual development. In general, oxytocin acts to allow the high levels of social sensitivity and attunement necessary for human sociality and for rearing a human child. Under optimal conditions oxytocin may create an emotional sense of safety. Oxytocin dynamically moderates the autonomic nervous system, and effects of oxytocin on vagal pathways, as well as the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of this peptide, help to explain the pervasive adaptive consequences of social behavior for emotional and physical health. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Psychology Volume 65 is January 03, 2014. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/catalog/pubdates.aspx for revised estimates.
Book
We've all heard that a father's involvement enriches the lives of children. But how much have we heard about how having a child affects a father's life? As Peter Gray and Kermyt Anderson reveal, fatherhood actually alters a man's sexuality, rewires his brain, and changes his hormonal profile. His very health may suffer—in the short run—and improve in the long. These are just a few aspects of the scientific side of fatherhood explored in this book, which deciphers the findings of myriad studies and makes them accessible to the interested general reader. Since the mid-1990s Anderson and Gray, themselves fathers of young children, have been studying paternal behavior in places as diverse as Boston, Albuquerque, Cape Town, Kenya, and Jamaica. Their work combines the insights of evolutionary and comparative biology, cross-cultural analysis, and neural physiology to deepen and expand our understanding of fatherhood—from the intense involvement in childcare seen in male hunter-gatherers, to the prodigality of a Genghis Khan leaving millions of descendants, to the anonymous sperm donor in a fertility clinic. Looking at every kind of fatherhood—being a father in and out of marriage, fathering from a distance, stepfathering, and parenting by gay males—this book presents a uniquely detailed picture of how being a parent fits with men's broader social and work lives, how fatherhood evolved, and how it differs across cultures and through time.
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The neuropeptide oxytocin (OT) and the steroid cortisol (CT) have each been implicated in complex social behavior, including parenting, and one mechanism by which OT is thought to exert its pro-social effects is by attenuating hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) response to stress. Yet, no study to date has tested whether OT functions to reduce CT production in the context of the parent-infant attachment. In the current study, we examined the effects of intranasal OT administered to the parent on parent's and infant's CT levels following parent-child interaction that included a social stressor. Utilizing a double-blind, placebo-controlled, within-subject design, 35 fathers and their 5-month-old infants were observed in a face-to-face-still-face paradigm twice, one week apart. Interactions were micro-coded for social synchrony, and salivary CT were repeatedly assessed from parent and child. Results showed that OT increased fathers' overall CT response to the stress paradigm. Furthermore, OT altered infants' physiological and behavioral response as a function of parent-infant synchrony. Among infants experiencing high parent-infant synchrony, OT elevated infant HPA reactivity and increased infant social gaze to the father while father maintained a still-face. On the other hand, among infants experiencing low social synchrony, parental OT reduced the infant's stress response and diminished social gaze toward the unavailable father. Results are consistent with the "social salience" hypothesis and highlight that OT effects on human social functioning are not uniform and depend on the individual's attachment history and social skills. Our findings call to further investigate the effects of OT administration within developmental contexts, particularly the parent-infant relationship.
Article
Synchrony, a concept coined by the first researchers on parenting in social animals (Rosenblatt, 1965; Schneirla, 1946; Wheeler, 1928), describes the dynamic process by which hormonal, physiological, and behavioral cues are exchanged between parent and young during social contact. Over time and daily experience, parent and child adjust to the specific cues of the at-tachment partner and this biobehavioral synchrony provides the foundation for the parent–infant bond (Fleming, O'Day, & Kraemer, 1999). Affiliative bonds—defined as selective and enduring attachments—are formed on the ba-sis of repeated exposure to the coordination between physiological states and interactive behavior within each partner, between partners, and between the physiology of one and the behavior of the other. Such social bonds, in turn, set the framework for the infant's emotional development and shape the life-long capacity to regulate stress, modulate arousal, and engage in coregulatory interactions, achievements that are central components of the child's social– emotional growth (Feldman, 2007a). Moreover, the experience of biobehav-ioral synchrony in the first months of life sets the biological and behavioral systems that enable the child to provide optimal parenting to the next gen-eration, thereby forming the cross-generation transmission of attachment patterns (Feldman, Gordon, & Zagoory-Sharon, 2010a). During the sensitive period of bond formation, infants' brains are sen-sitized to the mutual influences between physiological systems, behavioral indicators, and their interactions. Studies in mammals propose that this pro-cess of synchrony—the system's sensitivity to the coordination of physiology Research reported in this chapter was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (#01/941, #1318/08), the US-Israel Bi-National Science Foundation (2001-241, 2005-273), the March of Dimes Foundation (12-FY04-50), the NARSAD foundation (Independent Investigator Award), and the Irving B. Harris Foundation.
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Extant research has documented the effects of intranasal administration of Oxytocin (OT), and to a lesser degree Arginine Vasopressin