Bianca Filippi

      Ritratto di Bianca Filippi

Neuroscience, Technology and Society, XXXVII series 

Grant sponsor
DPSS, Università degli Studi di Padova

Paola Rigo & Alessandra Simonelli 


Project description

Parents play a significant role in their child’s development. During the postpartum period, the mother’s brain undergoes several changes to support the establishment of caregiving behaviors, for example, exhibiting enhanced neural responses to infant cues compared to non-parents, which have been positively associated with maternal sensitivity observed during mother-infant interactions. Notably, sensitivity to infant distress cues, such as cries, seems to be a stronger predictor of favorable outcomes than sensitivity to non-distress cues, shaping the developing self-regulation of the infant. Therefore, mothers’ ability to cope with emotional stress and to regulate emotional responses is needed. At the same time, emotion dysregulation is a core mechanism underlying many clinical disorders, including Somatic Symptom Disorder (SSD), a heterogeneous group of conditions characterized by real physical symptoms that arise from or are influenced by mind and emotions rather than a specific organic cause in the body. SSD has been significantly associated with chronic stimulation of stress response systems, high rates of emotion dysregulation and poor mentalization, resulting in possibly dysfunctional interpersonal patterns. Thus, they represent a risk factor for adjustment to motherhood. My research project aims to investigate the relational, behavioral and neural characteristics of parenting in a sample of mothers with SSD, with an additional focus on the father as a particularly salient protective factor, contributing to co-regulation of negative maternal affect and reducing adverse maternal and infant health outcomes.