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The social brain has a nerve: insights from attachment and autistic phenotypes

Jackson, EE, McGlone, FP and Haggarty, CJ (2022) The social brain has a nerve: insights from attachment and autistic phenotypes. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 45. ISSN 2352-1546

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Research in the mid-20th century raised the probability that unloving and neglectful care hinders healthy infant development. More recent observations of atypical neurodevelopment among post-institutionalised and pre-term infants illustrate the relative benefits of nurturing physical care. In short, early touch exposure correlates with subsequent adult behaviour. This paper focuses on recent novel research linking a lack of early nurturing touch, both by necessity (i.e. in the case of NICU infants), and in the case of avoidant individuals who withdraw from social touch, with the subsequent development of colloquially defined ‘autism-like’ phenotypes. Here we propose that avoidant attachment, together with early touch deprivation, plays a central role in the adverse experience of affective touch, as mediated by C-tactile afferents. This manifests as withdrawal motivation, a behaviour commonly observed in Autism Spectrum Condition. Here, this hypothesis, together with evidence of other underlying biological mechanisms are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 1701 Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Divisions: Psychology (from Sep 2019)
Publisher: Elsevier BV
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 07 Oct 2022 09:21
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2022 09:30
DOI or ID number: 10.1016/j.cobeha.2022.101114
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/17728
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