Influence of perinatal maternal affective state on the attentional functions of mothers and their infants at 6 months

ContributorsMasseran, Camille
Number of pages69
Master program titleMaîtrise universitaire en psychologie
Defense date2022-12-22

The perinatal period represents a critical window of time for the development of the child, during which the maturing plastic brain strongly influences the environment for its construction and maturation. Toxic substances, stressful situations or affective deprivation have been shown to have deleterious effects that last throughout the life of the individual, if not quickly addressed. In this project, we sought to evaluate whether there is a link between the mother's affective state and her attentional skills during pregnancy and the postpartum period and to see if there is a symmetry in the attentional processing of the mother and her infant at 6 months of age. To do so, we developed an emotional cue-target task of Inhibition Of Return (IOR) task – measured by eye tracking - which has the great advantage of testing the performances of the mother and the child in parallel. To our knowledge, no research has evaluated the behavioral and neurophysiological pattern in mother and child using such a paradigm. For the most part, we saw each mother at two measurement times: once during pregnancy and once at 6 months of age. At each measurement time, the mothers were asked to fill out questionnaires to assess their affective state and to perform an attentional task measured by Eye Tracking. At the second measurement time, the infants also performed this attentional task. A control group of non-pregnant women was also added to the study. We hypothesize that we will observe an IOR effect in all groups. Specifically, we suggest that emotional faces would interfere with target position, with this interference mediated with depression and anxiety scale scores. We found an IOR effect only for the control group and pre-test mothers. No IOR effects were found for the posttest mothers and infants. Regarding interference with emotional faces mediated by depression and anxiety scale scores, no results were found in this direction. On the other hand, for pre-test mothers, IOR was found only when neutral faces were presented as a cue but not when sad and happy faces were presented. Future research with larger samples is needed to replicate or not these results.

  • Perinatal maternal affective state
  • Inhibition Of Return
  • Infants
Citation (ISO format)
MASSERAN, Camille. Influence of perinatal maternal affective state on the attentional functions of mothers and their infants at 6 months. 2022.
Main files (1)
Master thesis
  • PID : unige:168854

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Creation04/26/2023 1:03:25 PM
First validation05/19/2023 10:34:22 AM
Update time05/19/2023 10:34:22 AM
Status update05/19/2023 10:34:22 AM
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