Skip to main content

Parental and romantic attachment systems: neural circuits, genes, and experiential contributions to interpersonal engagement

Intense interpersonal relationships are critical aspects of human life. Important examples are parental and romantic love. Each include a set of highly conserved behaviours and mental states that reflect genetic endowment and the early experience of being cared for as a child, as well as current factors. This paper reviews the neurobiological bases of these states in mammalian species and humans. This includes recent data that suggest that there are critical developmental windows during which the genetically determined microcircuitry of key limbic-hypothalamic-midbrain structures are susceptible to environmental influences that shape human responses to psychosocial stimuli. They may also determine resiliency and vulnerability to various forms of human psychopathology.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to James Swain.

Rights and permissions

Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Swain, J. Parental and romantic attachment systems: neural circuits, genes, and experiential contributions to interpersonal engagement. Ann Gen Psychiatry 5, S314 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1186/1744-859X-5-S1-S314

Download citation

Keywords

  • Human Life
  • Early Experience
  • Environmental Influence
  • Mammalian Species
  • Interpersonal Relationship