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Soc Neurosci. 2015;10(5):474-8. doi: 10.1080/17470919.2015.1070198. Epub 2015 Aug 25.

Parental buffering of fear and stress neurobiology: Reviewing parallels across rodent, monkey, and human models.

Author information

a Institute of Child Development , University of Minnesota , Minneapolis , MN , USA.
b Institute for Policy Research , Northwestern University , Evanston , IL , USA.
c Department of Psychiatry and Yerkes National Primate Research Center , Emory University , Atlanta , GA , USA.
d Department of Psychology , Columbia University , New York , NY , USA.
e Emotional Brain Institute, Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research , Orangeburg , SC , USA.
f Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, The Child Study Center, New York University Langone School of Medicine , New York , NY , USA.


It has been long recognized that parents exert profound influences on child development. Dating back to at least the seventeenth-century Enlightenment, the ability for parents to shape child behavior in an enduring way has been noted. Twentieth-century scholars developed theories to explain how parenting histories influence psychological development, and since that time, the number of scientific publications on parenting influences in both human and nonhuman animal fields has grown at an exponential rate, reaching numbers in the thousands by 2015. This special issue describes a symposium delivered by Megan Gunnar, Regina Sullivan, Mar Sanchez, and Nim Tottenham in the Fall of 2014 at the Society for Social Neuroscience. The goal of the symposium was to describe the emerging knowledge on neurobiological mechanisms that mediate parent-offspring interactions across three different species: rodent, monkey, and human. The talks were aimed at designing testable models of parenting effects on the development of emotional and stress regulation. Specifically, the symposium aimed at characterizing the special modulatory (buffering) effects of parental cues on fear- and stress-relevant neurobiology and behaviors of the offspring and to discuss examples of impaired buffering when the parent-infant relationship is disrupted.


Amygdala; Fear; Parents; Prefrontal cortex; Social buffering; Stress

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Conflict of interest statement

No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.

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