Sweet with Sweat? The Neural Correlates of Dynamic Parental Cognitive Training of Primiparous Parents from the 3rd Trimester of Pregnancy to 14 Months After Child Birth

05:30 PM - 06:00 PM 
Yiquan Shi 
TU Dresden, Professur für Allgemeine Psychologie 
part of series
TUD NIC Colloquium 
main topic
Psychology: general, General, Biopsy., Methods

Parenting involves all sorts of challenges to parents, particularly to primiparous (first-time) parents. It influences many aspects of their life including mental health, emotional state, and cognitive function. However, much of the literature regarding postpartum change investigated the mental health of mothers (e.g., post-partum depression). Concerning the change of cognitive function, research has mostly focused on the development of infants and children. The comparison between primiparous parents’ cognitive function pre- and postpartum is surprisingly rare. Yet, little is known as of how parenting processes affect the human brain and cognitive functions.
I assume that the parenting process is in fact comparable to an intensive and long-term training regarding several aspects of cognitive function. Moreover, 1) this dynamic and natural “training program” follows the development of the infant, 2) mother and father may receive different training packages, because of their role divisions in child care giving.
A prospective longitudinal study is planned to measure first-time mothers’ and fathers’ cognitive functions and the relevant neural correlates at selected time points pre- and post-partum. 40 couples of primiparous parents will be tested before childbirth (prepartum test) and three times after. The postpartum test time points are selected based on the motor developmental milestones of the infant (i.e., rolling over, practice standing and walking). Cognitive-task paradigms which can capture both multi-tasking and attentional tracking functions are designed and will be applied. At each time point, participants will perform cognitive tasks within the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner (except the pre-partum test on mothers which will take place outside the scanner because of pregnancy). The neural activation of multi-tasking and attentional tracking functions will be measured by functional MRI (fMRI), meanwhile the behavioural performance and the structural image of brain will be recorded. Whether parenting processes are associated with changes in behavioural performance and/or the brain functioning and structure will be investigated. In addition, the data of mothers and fathers will be compared to check the different parental cognitive training effects on them.
The fMRI and behavioural measurement will be performed at the imaging centre, TU Dresden, Department of Psychology. Participants will be recruited in Dresden in cooperation with a DFG funded cohort study, called “DREAM” (DResdner Studie zu Elternschaft, Arbeit und Mentaler Gesundheit). In this talk, I will focus on the task paradigms, scanning procedure and data analysis of the cross sectional study per se of the prepartum test as well as the longitudinal study overall.


Last update: 11.04.2018 14:24.


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Neuroimaging Centre (NIC) 
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