In this Michael Meaney interview, he let an open question at the end. He mentioned that communal parenting, could "in some ways buffer the child by having potentially more positive sources of resilience in their lives". I know the amygdala and medial prefrontal cortex are brain regions important for emotion regulation, however, how communal parenting could change their development and be an explanation for this to happen?
This is the interview last question (to avoid the link):
Interviewer: Have there been studies of the influence of care in societies where the burden of care might be moved between parents or is it reasonably constant across societies?
Michael Meaney: No. We think it’s really interesting and it’s a dynamic. The psychologists speak, for example, of a child as being an organism that’s remarkably good at seeking out nurturance from whatever source may be there. We see in Asia that many children are raised by grandparents or in a more communal environment. In a cohort that we run in Singapore, I believe that in 50% of the cases the mother is not the primary care giver in terms of the person who spends the most amount of time with the child. That wouldn’t be true up to one year of life, but beyond one year it’s very often that children are raised by others, particularly grandparents. People are living in larger, extended families. The irony there is that these care structures may come closer to the original organization of the family who lived in kin groups. In fact, it may be that we in the west are somehow the outliers having created these nuclear families in which parenting and child care is so closely linked to one or two individuals whereas in other societies it can be far more communal. That leads you to some interesting outcomes. For example, a colleague of ours in Singapore was looking at the association between a common feature of early maternal care, which is sensitivity – to what extent is the mother attuned to the cues of the infant? She had a predicted a relationship between development in the prefrontal cortex and maternal sensitivity. She’s seen a rather weak relationship, which surprised her, so she took this large sample she had and she split it and for those whom the mother was the primary care giver, she saw a very strong relationship between maternal sensitivity and prefrontal development, but for those children for whom the mother wasn’t the primary caregiver, it was absent. So I think in these particular instances, you’re seeing more diversity within the child care environment and I think it’s an excellent question to ask, does this in some ways buffer the child by having potentially more positive sources of resilience in their lives? It’s a question well worth noting.