Infant genotype may moderate sensitivity to maternal affective communications: Attachment disorganization, quality of care, and the DRD4 polymorphism

Judit Gervai, Alexa Novak, Krisztina Lakatos, Ildiko Toth, Ildiko Danis, Zsolt Ronai, Zsofia Nemoda, Maria Sasvari-Szekely, Jean Francois Bureau, Elisa Bronfman, Karlen Lyons-Ruth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

70 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Disorganized attachment is an early predictor of the development of psychopathology in childhood and adolescence. Lyons-Ruth, Bronfman, and Parsons (1999) developed the AMBIANCE coding scheme to assess disrupted communication between mother and infant, and reported the link between maternal behavior and disorganized attachment. The Hungarian group found an association between a polymorphism of the DRD4 gene and disorganized attachment (Gervai et al., 2005; Lakatos et al., 2000, 2002). The present collaborative work investigated the interplay between genetic and caregiving contributions to disorganized attachment. Mother-infant dyads (138), from a Hungarian low-social-risk sample (96) and a US high-social-risk sample (42), were assessed for infant disorganized attachment behavior, for DRD4 gene polymorphisms, and for disrupted forms of maternal affective communication with the infant. In accord with literature reports, we found a robust main effect of maternal AMBIANCE scores on infant disorganization. However, this relation held only for the majority of infants who carried the short form of the DRD4 allele. Among carriers of the 7-repeat DRD4 allele, there was no relation between quality of maternal communication and infant disorganization. This interaction effect was independent of degree of social risk and maternal DRD4 genotype.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-319
Number of pages13
JournalSocial neuroscience
Volume2
Issue number3-4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Development
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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