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J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2009 Apr;116(4):503-12. doi: 10.1007/s00702-008-0171-z. Epub 2009 Jan 10.

Serotonin transporter gene polymorphism (5-HTTLPR), environmental conditions, and developing negative emotionality and fear in early childhood.

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  • 1Department of Medical Psychology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Giessen, Friedrichstrasse 36, 35392, Giessen, Germany.

Erratum in

  • J Neural Transm. 2009 Sep;116(9):1191. Friedl, Susann [corrected to Friedel, Susann].


Studies on neural and behavioral correlates of the serotonin transporter gene polymorphism (5-HTTLPR) strongly suggested interaction effects between the 5-HTTLPR genotype and environmental conditions on infant emotionality development. However, empirical studies that involve human infants are rare. The present study thus analyzed the interaction of the 5-HTTLPR genotype with the quality of maternal parenting behavior on the development of negative emotionality and fear in infancy. In a sample of 69 healthy firstborn infants, negative emotionality and fear were assessed at 4, 8, and 12 months using a multi-method approach. The quality of previous parenting has been operationalized as the quality of the mother-infant attachment relationship measured by the strange situation procedure at 18 months. Corresponding to hypotheses, to their caregiver insecurely attached infants who were homozygous for the s-variant of the 5-HTTLPR genotype developed a high level of negative emotionality and fear. The results thus are in line with the experimental results in the non-human primate model and point to a more pronounced susceptibility of s/s carrying infants to early rearing experiences.

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