The Nurture Science Program is a team consisting of outstanding scientists and clinicians who are dedicated to the exploration of the biological and behavioral basis of the beneficial effects of nurture. The members of the Nurture Science Program believe that the establishment and maintenance of optimal parent-child interactions (nurture) affects subsequent physiological and psychological development of the child and the well-being of the family.

The Nurture Science Program is unique in bringing together a multidisciplinary team that combines the talents and perspectives of basic, translational, and clinical scientists. Insights derived from the fields of cell biology and neurobiology are combined with behavioral physiology and psychiatry to focus on the biology of nurture and to devise practical therapies that harness it.

Our overarching goal is to test Family Nurture Intervention's ability to enhance child development. Preterm infants are at high risk for emotional, behavioral, and developmental disorders including autism and eating disorders. The requisite life-saving care for these infants causes mother-infant separation just at the time that the mother normally inoculates her baby against stress through continuous physical reciprocal calming interactions. Preterm infants offer an opportunity to establish a true prevention model of early intervention through mother-infant nurture interactions in the very first days of their lives.

Family Nurture Intervention is a multi-generational therapy. As such, it can help bring the family together and identify ways family members can help to regulate the child through enhanced calming activities of nurture.

Family Nurture Could Help Preterm Babies Avoid Developmental Problems

A study in San Antonio is designed to determine if a technique called Family Nurture Intervention could help babies who spend their first days in the neonatal intensive care unit. Read full article.

New test scores emotional weight of parent-child connections

Videos of mothers and their infants interacting with each other may contain clues to autism risk. The unpublished results were presented Tuesday at the 2016 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego. Read full article.

Exploring The Science of Nurture

The emotional connection between a mother and her infant is normally present at birth, and vocal soothing, touching, comforting, holding, and making eye contact—behaviors commonly associated with “nurture” — have a profound impact on development and behavior. Studies have shown that they can help a child become more resilient to a broad range of mental, behavioral, and physical disorders and that they play a role in the mother’s wellbeing, too. Read full article

Nurturing Brain Development in Preterm Infants - From the DANA Foundation

Premature infants, loosely defined as babies born before 34 weeks gestation, arrive in a state of arrested development. The lungs, the heart, the digestive system, the eyes, the ears—and the brain—may not have reached their full potential when a preemie comes into the world. Lacking proper brain development, premature infants are at elevated risk for problems with learning, communication, emotional regulation, and social bonding. Read full article

Brain circuit signs flag preterm babies’ risk for autism: Via Spectrum News

Infants born prematurely show alterations in the structure and function of their brain circuits — findings that hint at why they are at increased risk for autism. Researchers presented the unpublished results, from two independent long-term studies, at the 2015 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Chicago. Read full article

Nurturing Families: Via Williams College

On any given day in associate professor of psychology Amie Hane’s Early Experience and Physiology lab, students are gathered around a TV monitor, reviewing video of mothers and tiny infants. They stop the recording every few seconds to take note of the slightest change in glance, touch, or tone of voice. Read Full Article