Effects of an Attachment-Based Intervention on Child Protective Services-Referred Mothers’ Event-Related Potentials to Children’s Emotions




Kristin Bernard, Robert Simons, and Mary Dozier

Brief Type

Journal publication


  • Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-Up (ABC)


This study examined the neurobiology of maternal sensitivity to children's emotions among mothers involved with Child Protective Services (CPS) and low‐risk comparison mothers (Mage = 31.6 years). CPS‐referred mothers participated in the Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch‐up (ABC) intervention or a control intervention. Mothers' event‐related potentials (ERPs) were measured while they categorized images of children with crying, laughing, and neutral expressions. CPS‐referred ABC mothers (n = 19) and low‐risk comparison mothers (n = 30) showed a larger enhancement of ERP responses for emotional faces relative to neutral faces than CPS‐referred control mothers (n = 21). Additionally, the magnitude of ERP responses to emotional faces was associated with observed maternal sensitivity. Findings add to the understanding of the neurobiology of deficits in parenting and suggest that these deficits are changeable through a parenting intervention. (author abstract)

Data Collection Methods

  • Home Visit Observations
  • Standardized assessment tools



For More Information

Bernard, K., Simons, R., & Dozier, M. (2015). Effects of an attachment‐based intervention on Child Protective Services–referred mothers' event‐related potentials to children's emotions. Child Development, 86(6), 1673-1684. doi:  10.1111/cdev.12418
Author Contact Information:
Kristin Bernard


  • Participant, Family, and Program Outcomes
  • Program Enhancements, Innovations, and Promising Approaches