Associations between infant amygdala functional connectivity and social engagement following a stressor: A preliminary investigation

Yannan Hu, Haitao Chen, Xiaomei Li, Ryan J. Larsen, Bradley P. Sutton, Wei Gao, Nancy L. McElwain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Functional architecture of the infant brain, especially functional connectivity (FC) within the amygdala network and between the amygdala and other networks (i.e., default-mode [DMN] and salience [SAL] networks), provides a neural basis for infant socioemotional functioning. Yet, little is known about the extent to which early within- and between-network amygdala FC are related to infant stress recovery across the first year of life. In this study, we examined associations between amygdala FC (i.e., within-network amygdala connectivity, and between-network amygdala connectivity with the DMN and SAL) at 3 months and infant recovery from a mild social stressor at 3, 6 and 9 months. At 3 months, thirty-five infants (13 girls) underwent resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging during natural sleep. Infants and their mothers completed the still-face paradigm at 3, 6, and 9 months, and infant stress recovery was assessed at each time point as the proportion of infant social engagement during the reunion episode. Bivariate correlations indicated that greater positive within-network amygdala FC and greater positive amygdala-SAL FC, but not amygdala-DMN FC, at 3 months predicted lower levels of stress recovery at 3 and 6 months, but were nonsignificant at 9 months. These findings provide preliminary evidence that early functional synchronization within the amygdala network, as well as segregation between the amygdala and the SAL, may contribute to infant stress recovery in the context of infant–mother interaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13418
JournalDevelopmental science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024


  • amygdala functional connectivity
  • default-mode network
  • infancy
  • salience network
  • still-face paradigm
  • stress recovery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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