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Changes in attentional processing and affective reactivity in pregnancy and postpartum

Authors Gollan J, Rosebrock L, Hoxha D, Wisner K

Received 19 April 2014

Accepted for publication 11 July 2014

Published 11 November 2014 Volume 2014:3 Pages 99—109


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Jackie K Gollan, Laina Rosebrock, Denada Hoxha, Katherine L Wisner

Asher Center for the Study and Treatment of Depressive Disorders, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, USA

Abstract: The aim of this review is to provide an overview of the research in attentional processing and affective reactivity in pregnancy and postpartum to inform future research. Numerous changes occur in attentional processing and affective reactivity across the childbearing period. This review focuses on the definition and methods of measuring attentional processing and affective reactivity. We discuss research studies that have examined the changes in these two processes during the perinatal phases of pregnancy and postpartum, with and without depression and anxiety. We evaluate the importance of using multiple levels of measurement, including physiological and neuroimaging techniques, to study these processes via implicit and explicit tasks. Research that has identified regions of brain activation using functional magnetic resonance imaging as well as other physiological assessments is integrated into the discussion. The importance of using sophisticated methodological techniques in future studies, such as multiple mediation models, for the purpose of elucidating mechanisms of change during these processes in pregnancy and postpartum is emphasized. We conclude with a discussion of the effect of these processes on maternal psychological functioning and infant outcomes. These processes support a strategy for individualizing treatment for pregnant and postpartum women suffering from depression and anxiety.

Keywords: attentional processing, emotion, affective reactivity, depression, pregnancy, postpartum

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