Right frontal EEG asymmetry and lack of empathy in preschool children of depressed mothers

Nancy Aaron Jones, Tiffany Field, Marisabel Davalos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


EEG activity, empathic reactions to emotion-inducing stimuli, and the ability to complete a teaching task were examined in preschool children of depressed and non-depressed mothers. EEG activity from frontal and parietal regions was recorded. Repeated measures MANOVAs indicated that the children of depressed mothers had greater relative right frontal EEG asymmetry, a pattern that typically accompanies greater negative affect and showed less empathic responses to a crying infant as well as to their own mothers' simulated distress. Children of depressed mothers were slower in completing the teaching task (involving mutual cooperation with their mother) and they spent more time asking for help than children of non-depressed mothers. Further, the depressed mothers stated their approval less often and spent less time helping their child complete the task.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-204
Number of pages16
JournalChild Psychiatry and Human Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Cooperation
  • EEG
  • Empathy
  • Maternal Depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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