Neonatal auditory evoked responses are related to perinatal maternal anxiety

Kyle W. Harvison, Dennis L. Molfese, Janet Woodruff-Borden, Rebecca A. Weigel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Maternal stress and anxiety during pregnancy are related to negative developmental outcomes for offspring, both physiological and psychological, from the fetal period through early adolescence. This robust relationship is likely to be partly explained by alterations in fetal neurodevelopmental programming, calling for further examination of neurophysiologically-based cognitive markers that may be related to the altered structure-function relationships that contribute to these negative developmental outcomes. The current investigation examined the relationship between perinatal maternal anxiety and neonatal auditory evoked responses (AERs) to mother and stranger voices. Results indicated that neonates of low-anxiety mothers displayed more negative frontal slow wave amplitudes in response to their mother's voice compared to a female stranger's voice, while neonates of high-anxiety mothers showed the opposite pattern. These findings suggest that neonates of perinatally anxious mothers may demonstrate neurophysiologically-based differences in attentional allocation. This could represent one pathway to the negative psychological outcomes seen throughout development in offspring of anxious mothers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-374
Number of pages6
JournalBrain and Cognition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety
  • Auditory evoked responses
  • Event-related potentials
  • Neonatal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Neonatal auditory evoked responses are related to perinatal maternal anxiety'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this