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Infant neuronal responses to touch by the mother versus a stranger at 6 months

Grant number: 22/14425-2
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): December 01, 2022
Effective date (End): November 30, 2023
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Psychology - Physiological Psychology
Principal Investigator:Ana Alexandra Caldas Osório
Grantee:Beatriz Van Der Heijden Cardenes
Host Institution: Centro de Ciências Biológicas e da Saúde (CCBS). Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie (UPM). Instituto Presbiteriano Mackenzie. São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:21/06693-4 - The importance of social touch for infant social-emotional development: integrating neuroimaging, psychophysiological, endocrine, and behavioral evidence, AP.JP2


Evidence in adults suggest that neural and behavioral responses to touch vary as a function of the perceived identity of the toucher. Research on infants is significantly scarcer, with only one study published to date. In their seminal work, Aguirre et al. assessed the heart rate of 9-month-old infants in two conditions: a) soft brush strokes administered in the presence of the mother, b) the same type of touch administered in the presence of an unfamiliar female. Interestingly, the authors found a reduction in heart rate only in response to touch perceived as coming from the mother. However, the influence of the toucher's identity on the neuronal responses to touch perceived as coming from the mother (vs. an unfamiliar female) at 6 months of life - a period when the infant begins to show preference for proximity to his/her mother - remains unknown. This is the main aim of this workplan.

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