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

Megan R. Gunnar, Camelia E. Hostinar, Mar M. Sanchez, Nim Tottenham, Regina M. Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)474-478
Number of pages5
JournalSocial neuroscience
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 3 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Effort on this manuscript was supported by NSF conference grant BCS-1439258 (to M.R. Gunnar (PI), R.M. Sullivan (co-I), M.M. Sanchez (co-I), N. Tottenham (co-I)), NIMH P50MH078105 (to M.R. Gunnar), F32HD078048 (to C.E. Hostinar), NIH-DC009910 (to R.M. Sullivan), MH091451 (to R.M. Sullivan), NICHD HD083217 (to R.M. Sullivan), R01DA038588 (to M. Sanchez), R01HD077623 (to M. Sanchez), R21HD055255 (to M. Sanchez), R01MH091864 (to N. Tottenham), and the Dana Foundation (to N. Tottenham). The project was also supported by the Office of Research Infrastructure Programs/OD (ORIP/OD) P51OD11132 (YNPRC Base grant, formerly NCRR P51RR000165). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Taylor & Francis.


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


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