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Hypothalamus volume in men: Investigating associations with paternal status, self-reported caregiving beliefs, and adult attachment style

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Long,  Madison
Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute, University of Calgary, AB, Canada;
Research Group Social Stress and Family Health, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Puhlmann,  Lara M.
Research Group Social Stress and Family Health, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Leibniz Institute for Resilience Research (LIR), Mainz, Germany;

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Vrticka,  Pascal
Research Group Social Stress and Family Health, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Centre for Brain Science, Department of Psychology, University of Essex, Colchester, United Kingdom;

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Citation

Long, M., Puhlmann, L. M., & Vrticka, P. (2021). Hypothalamus volume in men: Investigating associations with paternal status, self-reported caregiving beliefs, and adult attachment style. Social Neuroscience, 16(6), 639-652. doi:10.1080/17470919.2021.1997799.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0009-9B1C-A
Abstract
Most studies on mammalian caregiving and attachment focused on the mother-child relationship, particularly in humans. Yet, changing societal roles of male caregivers have highlighted the necessity for research with fathers.We examined the volume of the hypothalamus, an important subcortical brain area for caregiving and attachment, in N = 50 fathering (child age 5-6 years) and N = 45 non-fathering men using a novel technique to identify the hypothalamus in 3T MRI. We furthermore employed three self-report measures to assess interindividual differences in adult attachment style across all men and caregiving beliefs in fathers.While we did not observe any significant difference in hypothalamus volume between fathers and non-fathers or associations between hypothalamus volume and self-reported adult attachment style across all men, self-reported caregiving beliefs were positively related to total hypothalamus volume in fathers. A follow-up analysis showed that fathers' self-reported belief that a father's role is important to child development was specifically related to tuberal hypothalamus volume, while self-reported enjoyment of spending time with the child was not associated with sub-regional hypothalamus volume.Together, these findings suggest that interindividual variability in self-reported caregiving beliefs in fathers is related to brain structure, warranting further research.