Depressed and non-depressed mothers’ touching during social interactions with their infants

Irene Mantis, Marisa Mercuri, Dale M. Stack, Tiffany M. Field

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Touch is a critical channel of communication used by mothers to communicate and interact with their infants and to contribute to their infants’ socio-emotional development. The present study examined maternal touching in 41 mothers with and without depressive symptomatology. Mothers and their 4-month-old infants participated in the Still-Face (maternal emotional unavailability) and Separation (maternal physical unavailability) procedures. Maternal touching behaviours were video-recorded and coded using the Caregiver Infant Touch Scale (CITS). Results indicated that mothers with higher levels of depressive symptoms engaged in less touching following the perturbation period in the Still-Face procedure, whereas mothers with lower levels of depressive symptoms maintained stable levels of touching across both interaction periods. Mothers with higher levels of depressive symptoms displayed less playful/stimulating types of touching. Taken together, these results underscore the importance of touch and suggest key differences in touching behaviour between dyads with maternal depressive symptomatology and those without.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-65
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopmental Cognitive Neuroscience
StatePublished - Feb 2019


  • Depression
  • Mother-infant interactions
  • Risk
  • Still-face procedure
  • Touch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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