This study investigated whether exposure to lavender or rosemary would change electroencephalographic (EEG) activity and behavior in infants of depressed and non-depressed mothers. Twenty newborns were exposed to a 10% (v/v) concentration of rosemary oil or lavender oil. Their EEG and behavior (via a video camera) were simultaneously recorded for 2-min each at baseline and during odor exposure. Group inclusion (depressed versus non-depressed) was based on mothers' CES-D scores. Although the groups did not differ at baseline and the two odors did not differentially affect the EEG, the infants of depressed mothers showed increased relative left frontal EEG asymmetry from baseline to the odor exposure phase. Infants of non-depressed mothers showed no change in frontal EEG asymmetry from baseline to the odor exposure phase. At least in adults, greater relative left frontal EEG asymmetry has been associated with an approaching pattern of behavior and response to positive stimuli, while greater relative right frontal EEG asymmetry has been associated with a withdrawing pattern of behavior and response to negative stimuli. Among the behaviors recorded; negative affect, head turns, lip licking, and nose wrinkling, the only differences were that the infants of depressed mothers showed increased head turning during the odor exposure. These results suggest that infants of depressed and non-depressed mothers respond differently to odors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology