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Investigating the Effects of Mindfulness-Based Training on Mother and Infant Brain Development

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A growing body of research suggests that mental health symptoms of mothers during pregnancy affect the quality of their infants’ brain development well after birth. We’re exploring the effects of a mindfulness-based program during a critical period that shapes early brain development – during pregnancy – as well as examining the impact of mindfulness training during this period on measures of infant brain function and structure.   

Study Details

This project investigates how a type of meditation training in pregnancy – Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting (MBCP) – affects mother and infant well-being. We are focusing on how such training may foster prosocial qualities mothers bring to parenting, particularly mindful presence with and compassionate love for her child, which can plant the seeds for a healthy, positive mother-child relationship that supports prosociality and reduces suffering in the next generation.

Importantly, this research moves beyond self-report measures to assess how the mindfulness-based intervention affects the way mothers’ brains respond to their infants’ emotions. By moving beyond self-report measures and using biological measures, this technique will shed light on the way contemplative practices influence the brain and ultimately shape the way people respond to real-world interactions. 

People Working on This Study

Larissa G. Duncan
Affiliated Faculty at the Center for Healthy Minds, Elizabeth C. Davies Chair in Child & Family Well-Being, Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies
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