Multiparity decreases the effect of distractor stimuli on a working memory task: An EEG study

Soc Neurosci. 2021 Jun;16(3):277-288. doi: 10.1080/17470919.2021.1899048. Epub 2021 Apr 5.


Parity modulates the way in which women respond to infant's affective cues. It is known that the cognitive processing of mothers is affected by a baby crying; however, little information is available regarding the effect of reproductive and caregiving experience on efficiency in managing babies' emotional stimuli while other tasks are being attended. This study characterized the affective score, cognitive performance, and electroencephalographic correlation (rEEG) between prefrontal and parietal cortices in first- (FM) and second-time mothers (SM) while solving a working memory task (vsWM) and simultaneously listening to either an emotional or neutral distractor stimulus. During the vsWM-baby crying condition, both groups reported higher arousal. However, SM reported a lower valence and FM lower dominance. In the vsWM-baby crying condition did SM need less time to solve the cognitive task and present a decreased rEEG between prefrontal areas, and between left prefrontal and parietal areas, though an increased rEEG between parietal areas was observed while listening to both distractor stimuli during performance of the vsWM task. These degrees of cortical synchronization could constitute a cerebral mechanism required to achieve better information maintenance and enhance suppression of distractor effects, which allow the SM women to solve the vsWM task more efficiently.

Keywords: EEG correlation; Multiparity; corsi block-tapping task; crying baby; first-time mothers; second-time mothers; visuospatial working memory; white noise.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cortical Synchronization
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Memory, Short-Term*
  • Parietal Lobe
  • Parity
  • Pregnancy