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Annals of General Psychiatry

Open Access

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

  • James Swain1
Annals of General Psychiatry20065(Suppl 1):S314

Published: 28 February 2006


Human LifeEarly ExperienceEnvironmental InfluenceMammalian SpeciesInterpersonal Relationship

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.

Authors’ Affiliations

Yale Child Study Center, Yale University School of Medicine, USA


© The Author(s) 2006