Neurophysiology of Nursing Integrated with Psychoanalysis

The neurophysiology of nursing as related to incipient mental organization of the infant thus consists of an entity that entails three major elements: (1) the role of regulation of subcortical centers, (2) the capability to perform active oral muscular work (first reflexively and later volition-ally) and (3) an incipient mental image of the nursing procedures at the

Fig. 2. Surface electromyogram measured from under the jaw shows the rhythmic sucking activity of a newborn (upperpanel). Each muscular activity burst is accompanied by an immediate response in heart rate. Heart rate increase is visualized by shortening of the distance between consecutive R peaks of the electrocardiogram, i.e., negative deflection of the waveform (lower panel)

Fig. 2. Surface electromyogram measured from under the jaw shows the rhythmic sucking activity of a newborn (upperpanel). Each muscular activity burst is accompanied by an immediate response in heart rate. Heart rate increase is visualized by shortening of the distance between consecutive R peaks of the electrocardiogram, i.e., negative deflection of the waveform (lower panel)

cortical level. It seems plausible that the formation of neurophysiological connectivity between the different subcortical nuclei and cortical areas begins right after birth. However, due to the low level and undifferentiat-ed character of the EEG activity of the newborn, the findings obtained so far from newborn infants need to be taken as preliminary and require further confirmation.

Once the organization of brain-stem, striatal and cortical activity has been established as a functioning unity, however, the ensuing proto-mental ego most likely begins to function as a template for more mature interactions between the developing subject and his/her object. The age of around 2 to 3 months is a landmark in the developmental process from a poorly organized neonatal stage to the first signs of purposeful behavior and sensory-motor coordination, which coincides with the appearance of a social smile and the waning of a disposition to colic-type cry signals [20, 21]. This age has been regarded as a threshold to new developmental organization by Spitz [2, 3], Mahler et al. [5], Stern [6], Gaddini [22] and Greenspan [23] and the mechanisms mediating the promoting effect on the development of infant-mother interaction have been studied extensively by Fonagy et al. [8].

The behavioral changes appearing at this age are concomitant with signs of a new neurophysiological organization which is shown in emergent rhythmic EEG activity that is not yet present in the newborn EEG [24]. The ongoing formation of an organized neural model for processing of stimuli provided by the mother has also been confirmed by means of auditory cortical responses when event-related potentials (ERP) of 4-month-old infants have been recorded in response to the mother's voice and compared to the response to voices of female strangers [25].

Other investigators such as Maulsby [26],Paul et al. [27] and Futagi et al. [28] have made similar observations of the neurophysiological effects of nursing behavior and provided results that support these findings. Maulsby [26] recognized rhythmic theta activity in a 9-month-old infant while the child was being bottle-fed, and also while she was watching pleasant pictures, and termed the rhythm "hedonic theta activity." Futagi et al. [28] were also able to record rhythmic theta activity in connection with handling and gazing of the infant, and also when the infant was crying.

It is plausible that the rhythmic theta activity is connected not only to pleasant, but also to unpleasant affective stimulation, i.e. it may function as a neurophysiological template for early affective experience including both pleasure and unpleasure, a principle that was already suggested by Walter [29] following his classical studies on older children.

Theta rhythm is also activated in the brain during dreaming [30]. Its generation is dependent on the hippocampus and its mapping functions of the bodily, environmental and temporal space [31, 32]. It can be assumed that theta activity during dreaming could be capable of supporting the transformation of a neurophysiological map of bodily functions into a mental space, since spatial and mental imagery are assumed to originate in the same sensory and associative cortical areas, especially in the right hemisphere [33, 34].

Freud's [35] view of the role of the unrepressed unconscious, i.e. the role of systemic, but not yet dynamically repressed unconscious, may thus be linked to neurophysiological phenomena. The infantile origin of the unrepressed unconscious has been suggested by Mancia [36, 37] to be related to the emerging capacity of the infant to form nonverbal implicit memories laid down from the interactions between the infant and the mother, a view that is consonant with the findings and interpretations of the impact of nursing presented in this chapter. The instinctual components of caring for the infant's vital needs and the sensory processes pro viding the basis of memory and cognitive functions should not be seen as separately working developmental lines. They should rather be regarded as reciprocal processes that interact and influence each other and together create the basis of the first mental images representing the bodily self of the infant and, respectively, the nascent image of the caring mother-person.

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Baby Sleeping

Baby Sleeping

Everything You Need To Know About Baby Sleeping. Your baby is going to be sleeping a lot. During the first few months, your baby will sleep for most of theday. You may not get any real interaction, or reactions other than sleep and crying.

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