PRENOTES ch44 Child’s Brain


from Siegel’s chapter 8 on Interpersonal Connection

“Allan Schore’s work on affect regulation provides an extensive review of the neurobiology of emotional development.  This section highlights some of Schore’s views and integrates them with the framework for emotion regulation proposed in Chapter 7.  (siegel/tdm/278)”

“Children need to be able to regulate their bodily and mental states.  They respond directly to their parents’ neural activation patterns through the processes of emotional communication and the alignment of states of mind.  A child’s response to a parent’s patterns can be described as the child’s “internalization” of the parent.

From a basic biological perspective, the child’s neuronal system – the structure and function of the developing brain – is shaped by the parent’s more mature brainThis occurs within emotional communication.  The attunement of emotional states provides the joining that is essential for the developing brain to acquire the capacity to organize itself more autonomously as the child matures.  (siegel/tdm/278)”

“Reaching out from the brain to the body proper, the autonomic nervous system helps to control the body’s state of arousal.  This system can induce excitatory, arousing, energy-consuming bodily states, which are produced by the activation of one of its two branches, called the “sympathetic branch.”  Examples of physiological responses to the sympathetic branch are increases in heart rate, respiration, sweating, and states of alertness.  (siegel/tdm/278)”

same para

The autonomic nervous system also includes an inhibitory, de-arousing, energy-conserving (siegel/tdm/278) portion called the “parasympathetic branch.”  The parasympathetic branch mediates responses such as decreases in heart rate, respiration, and states of alertness to the outside world.  (siegel/tdm/179)”



all one para

“The sympathetic [arousal] branch’s development predominates during the first year of life.

“The parasympathetic [inhibits] branch comes on-line during the second year.

“The timing is helpful because as the infant becomes ambulatory, it is important to have some way in which the primary emotional states mediated by the sympathetic branch – interest/excitement and enjoyment/joy – can be modulated in order to inhibit potentially dangerous behaviors.

“The sharing and amplification of these positive emotional states, so common during infancy, can be seen as a resonance of the sympathetic branch activity of the two individuals.  [he must mean parent and infant]  These upbeat states are a major part of the emotional communication between infant and parent during the first year of life.

“By the second year, when a child becomes able to walk, prohibitions from the parent must be able to inhibit [external constraint] such activating emotional states in order for te child to remain safe.  The baby must learn to stop moving in the face of danger.

“For example, if a child is climbing up the stairs, it is useful to have him learn what “No!” means:  “Do not do that; stop what you are now doing.”

“Before the first birthday, most parental communications are alignments with the aroused, positive emotional states.  After that time, inhibitory comments from the parent become more prominent.  (Lsiegel/tdm/279)”


“How does the need for contingent communication – for the alignment of states of mind between parent and child – influence the nature of parental behavior and prohibitions?  How can these alignments occur if the child is learning that the parent may not share his excitement about doing something?  Navigating this balance in needs between mental state alignment and parental prohibitions is one aspect of how the child acquires a healthy capacity for self-regulation.  (siegel/tdm/279)”



“Schore has described shame as the emotion evoked when a child’s aroused state is not attuned to by the parent.  Shame in certain degrees is actually an essential emotion for children to experience in order to begin to learn to self-regulate their state of mind and behavioral impulses.  (siegel/tdm/279)”

same para

“However, Alan Sroufe has noted that although this form of shame is inevitable and necessary, parents do not need to use shame intentionally as a strategic form of parenting.  Shame is thought to be based on the activation of the parasympathetic system (to an external “No!”) in the face of a highly charged sympathetic system (an internal “Let’s go!”).  It’s as if the accelerator pedal (the (siegel/tdm/179) sympathetic branch) is pressed down and then the brake (the parasympathetic branch) is applied.  (siegel/tdm/280)”


“Not connecting with a child’s active bid for attunement has been proposed by Schore to lead to shame.  [What on earth happens, then, for children when NONE of their bids are EVER responded to?  Does this create an unbearable and overwhelming sense of shame?] These types of transactions are necessary for a child to learn self-control and then to modulate both behavior and internal emotional states in prosocial ways.  Shame, in this very specific sense, is not damaging.

Same para

“Emotional states emerge from the patterns of changes in states of activation.  Parasympathetic states alone do not produce the feeling of shame.  Shame requires the dynamic profile of high sympathetic tone (a “crescendo” state) followed by onset of the parasympathetic system (a “de-crescendo” state).

“Shame is different from humiliation.  Shame-inducing interactions coupled with sustained parental anger and/or lack of repair of the disconnection lead to humiliation, which Schore has proposed to be toxic to the developing child’s brain. (siegel/tdm/280)”


“The orbitofrontal cortex – the part of the brain just behind the eyes and located at a strategic spot at the top of the emotional limbic system, next to the “higher” associational cortex responsible for various forms of thought and consciousness – plays an important role in affect regulation.  This area of the brain is especially sensitive to face-to-face communication and eye contact.  Because it serves as an important center for appraisal, it has a direct influence on the elaboration of states of arousal into various types of emotional experience.  (siegel/tdm/280)” copied to brain notes 8

Same para

“Schore’s detailed conceptualization of this region’s role in attachment relationships helps describe the steps involved between emotional attunement and affect regulation.  (siegel/tdm/280”



Affect attunement:  “ways in which internal emotional states are brought into external communication with each other within infant-caregiver interactions.  (siegel/tdm/280)”

++  “importance of this communication in the interactive experiences upon which the brain’s development depends.  (siegel/tdm/280)”

++  “what are attuned are psychobiological states in both members of the interacting pair.  (siegel/tdm/280)”

++  “Attunement requires times when individuals are in nonalignment – when they are not directly attempting to match or anticipate each other’s states.  In this way, attunement is a broader concept than alignment:  It includes sensitivity to times when alignment should not occur.  (siegel/tdm/281)”

Two Related Terms:

Alignment:  “one component of affect attunement, in which the state of one individual is altered to approximate that of the other member of the dyad.  Alignment can be primarily a one-way process, in which one individual’s state changes to match and anticipate that of the other; or it can be a bilateral process, involving movement by each member of the dyad.  (siegel/tdm/280)

Resonance:  “The overall process of attunement leads to the mutual influence of each member upon the other – a characteristic described…as “resonance.”  Emotional resonance, for example, involves more than the alignment of states; it also includes the ways in which the interaction affects the individuals in other aspects of their minds.  Resonance also continues after alignment has stopped.  The mutual influence of the alignment of states persists within the mind of each member after direct interaction no longer occurs.  Attunement yields moments of both alignment and nonalignment, and it also permits emotional resonance to occur between two people even after they are no longer in direct communication.  (siegel/tdm/281)”


“The effects of attachment relationships and the process of attunement on the mind have been postulated by Schore to have direct impacts upon the orbitofrontal cortex.  The orbitofrontal cortex can facilitate the regulation of bodily arousal by pushing down a kind of emotional “clutch” that disengages the sympathetic “accelerator” and activates the parasympathetic “brakes.”  The parasympathetic system is later deactivated with realignment, and the proper adjusted or regulated level of arousal is established through reactivation of the sympathetic system.  In other words, the brakes are applied with the disconnection; the repair process allows the child’s energies to be redirected, and then the accelerator is applied again with resumption of the emotional connection during the repair process.  The child essentially learns this:  “My parents may not like what I am doing, but if I change my activities they will then connect with me; things in the end will be OK.”  There is a balance between the accelerator and the brakes.  This is the essence of affect regulation.  (siegel/tdm/281)”

“The band of tolerable levels of activation of the autonomic (siegel/tdm/281) nervous system – of either the sympathetic or parasympathetic branches – may vary widely among individuals.  Movements beyond this window of tolerance, in either the sympathetic or parasympathetic branch direction, may be accompanied by diminished ability to function in an adaptive and flexible manner.  Neither excessive, nonregulated arousal (sympathetic activity) nor excessive inhibition (parasympathetic activation) is healthy for the development or the ongoing function of the brain.  (siegel/tdm/282)”  copied into chapter 51 regulation con’t


all one para

“Studies suggest that the orbitofrontal cortex remains plastic throughout life; that is, it is able to develop beyond childhood.  The orbitofrontal cortex mediates neurophysiological mechanisms integrating several domains of human experience:  social relationships, the evaluation of meaning, autonoetic consciousness, response flexibility, and emotion regulation.  (siegel/tdm/285)” copied to ch 51 reg con’t and dissociation notes 6

“The nonverbal social signals of eye contact, facial expression, tone of voice, and body gestures communicate the state of mind of each member of a dyad.  The interactions that occur have direct effects on the emotional experience in that moment.  Within the context of an attachment relationship, the child’s developing mind and the structure of the child’s brain will be shaped in such a way that the ability to regulate emotion in the future is affected.  (siegel/tdm/285)”


normal process of social referencing usually evident during first year of life…social disconnection,

“Face-to-face communication is one route by which attunement and social referencing enable the emotional state of one individual to be perceived by another.  Such abilities allow for emotionally contingent communication, which is at the developmental heart of emotion regulation. (siegel/tdm/286)”


ENDNOTES ch 44 child’s brain


“Studies of child development reveal that by the third year of life, a “narrative” function emerges in children and allows them to create stories about the events they encounter during their lives.  These narratives are sequential descriptions of people and events that condense numerous experiences into generalizing and contrasting stories. New experiences are compared to old ones.  Similarities are noted in creating generalized rules, and differences are highlighted as memorable exceptions to these rules.  The stories are bout making sense of events and the mental experiences of the characters.  Filled with the elements of the characters’ internal experience in the context of interactions with others in the world, these stories appear to e functioning to create a sense of coherent comprehension of the individual in the world across time.  (siegel/tdm/323)”

“Narratives may at times selectively focus on the minds of othrs and on external contexts, not on one’s own internal experience.  Children begin as biographers and emerge into autobiographers….a child begins to develop an “authorial self” by two years of age….Such a process requires the ability to “uncouple” various versions of (siegle/tdm/323) experience, as well as the “emergence of explicit forms of representation to mark the nature of and movement among the stances of the self.”  This view is based on the notion that the child can adopt different perspectives on or versions of the experience of self.  (siegel/tdm/324)”


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