Processing children's faces in the parental brain: A meta-analysis of ERP studies

Elisa Vuoriainen, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Rens Huffmeijer, Marinus H. van IJzendoorn, Mikko J. Peltola

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
20 Downloads (Pure)


Event-related potentials (ERPs) are an excellent tool for investigating parental neural responses to child stimuli. Using meta-analysis, we quantified the results of available studies reporting N170 or LPP/P3 ERP responses to children's faces, targeting three questions: 1) Do parents and non-parents differ in ERP responses to child faces? 2) Are parental ERP responses larger to own vs. unfamiliar child faces? 3) Are parental ERP responses to child faces associated with indicators of parenting quality, such as observed parental sensitivity? Across 23 studies (N = 1035), key findings showed 1) larger N170 amplitudes to child faces in parents than in non-parents (r = 0.19), 2) larger LPP/P3 responses to own vs. unfamiliar child faces in parents (r = 0.19), and 3) positive associations between parental LPP/P3 responses to child faces and parenting quality outcomes (r = 0.15). These results encourage further research particularly with the LPP/P3 to assess attentional-motivational processes of parenting, but also highlight the need for larger samples and more systematic assessments of associations between ERPs and parenting.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104604
Publication statusPublished - May 2022
Publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal


  • Children
  • EEG
  • ERP
  • Face processing
  • Meta-analysis
  • Parenting

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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