TransParent is a research project funded by the Academy of Finland. Taking place at the Human Information Processing Laboratory in Tampere University during the years 2017-2023, the project will investigate changes in the behavioral, physiological, and hormonal responses to infant, child, and adult social signals during the transition to parenthood. Recent research suggests that particularly during pregnancy, major changes in hormonal processes as well as brain structure and function take place. Such changes may affect how we respond to emotions, interact with others, and they may be critical for successful adaptation to the challenges of parenthood. However, there has been surprisingly little research systematically investigating the potential changes in responses to social signals – particularly infant signals – across the transition to parenthood, which was the main motivation for the TransParent project.
In the first phase of TransParent (started in May 2018), a cross-sectional study involving women without children and mothers of young infants was carried out. The study consisted of a laboratory assessment during which the participants performed various tasks measuring their behavioral and physiological responses to infant, child, and adult faces, facial emotions, and emotional vocalizations. Saliva samples were collected for analyses of hormonal baseline levels as well as hormonal responses to an “infant simulator”, which is a doll programmed to produce various emotional vocalizations. A set of questionnaires were completed online.
In the later phases of the project, we are conducting several studies to obtain a rich dataset on behavioral, neural and hormonal changes across the transition to parenthood. Our studies include a large online study addressing empathy toward children in men at different points of the transition to fatherhood, a brain imaging study in mothers of young infants, and a comprehensive laboratory data collection with mothers and fathers before and after the birth of the baby. We will inform about the next steps and new results of the project here and on the Twitter page of the Human Information Processing Laboratory, so stay tuned!
TransParent is directed by Mikko Peltola, PhD (Twitter / ResearchGate). The current team consists of two postdocs, two PhD students and research assistants. The study has been designed in collaboration with experts from the Netherlands (Marinus van IJzendoorn, Marian Bakermans-Kranenburg), Scotland (Benedict Jones, Lisa DeBruine), and the USA (Amanda Hahn).
If you have any questions about the project, please contact Mikko Peltola.