The neuroendocrinology of human caregiving; implications for intergenerational transmission
Variation in the quality of parental care has a tremendous impact on a child’s social-emotional development. Research investigating the predictors of this variability in human caregiving behavior, has mostly focused on learning mechanisms. Currently, evidence is accumulating for a complementary underlying role of steroid hormones and neuropeptides.
In his talk Peter Bos will give an overview of the hormones and neuropeptides relevant for human caregiving behavior, and describe the developmental factors that stimulate variability in sensitivity to these hormones and neuropeptides, which may result in variability in the behavioral repertoire of caregiving.
Discussed are the role of genetic variation in neuropeptide and steroid receptors, the role of testosterone and oxytocin during fetal development and parturition, and the impact of experienced caregiving in childhood on functioning of the neuroendocrine stress -and oxytocin- system. Besides providing a heuristic framework for further research on the ontogenetic development of human caregiving, also a neuroendocrine model is presented for the intergenerational transmission of caregiving practices.
Peter Bos, Department of Experimental Psychology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands