Psychobiological Roots of Early Attachment

Genetic predisposition of behavior can reveal possible behavioral, physiological, and neural traits based purely on the biobehavioral systems of the body.  However, attachment bonding seems to also provide a significant involvement towards experimental learning and association.  Pertaining to Sullivan’s experiment on the aversive and positive effects of the pups’ reactions to the neutral odor of their own mother, shows an important point-in-case with children in abusive families (Sullivan, Hofer, & Brake, 1986, p. 87).  The classic argument of nature versus nurture also plays a part in the factors of the bond between mother and child. For example, the warmth of the mother as well as her milk plays a huge role in determining the pup’s heart rate and behavior.  If the mother was unhealthy to begin with and didn’t provide the necessary warmth and nutrients in the milk, the offspring is less likely to show an active interaction or hyper-reactivity.  The change and differences in temperature and milk supply also affects the pup’s rapid eye movement sleep cycle which can bring about possible averse affects in the pup’s reactions towards their environment and attachment with their mother (Parent et al., 2005, p. 87).

Keywords: psychological, neural odor, hyper-reactivity

Carving Out a Stepping Stone

Surprisingly, early-weaned rats as mentioned in the article were less vulnerable than the normally reared ones.  It seems the earlier the age where the offspring had the stimulation of many components in mother-infant interaction, the more it serves towards the development of certain system in the offspring.  Once the offsprings are older, environmental factors tend to play a bigger part in the influence of their mental processes.  This can serve as a stepping stone towards understanding early human development on the effects of maternal separation as well as the process of early learning.  In both humans and animals, visceral sensations play a pivotal part in the development of not only close relationship attachment, but also heighten the development of motivation and incentive that are subtly apparent.


Myron, H. (2006). Current Directions in Psychological Science. Psychobiological Roots of Early Attachment (2 ed., Vol. 15, pp. 84-88).

Parent, C., Zhang, T., Caldji, C., Bagot, R., Champagne, F., Pruessner, J., & Meaney, M. (2005).             Psychobiological Roots of Early Attachment.Maternal Care and Individual Differences in Defensive Responses (Vol. 14, pp. 229-233).

Sullivan, R.M., Hofer, M.A., & Brake, S.C. (1986).  Olfactory-guided orientation in neonatal rats is enhanced by a conditional change in behavior state. Developmental Psychobiology (Vol. 19, pp. 615–623).