TransParent is a research project funded by the Academy of Finland. Taking place at the Human Information Processing Laboratory at the University of Tampere during the years 2017-2022, 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 is 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 starting 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 will be carried out. The study includes a laboratory assessment during which the participants perform various tasks measuring their behavioral and physiological responses to infant, child, and adult faces, facial emotions, and emotional vocalizations. Saliva samples are collected to analyze 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 will be completed online at home after the laboratory visit. The first phase of the data collection is estimated to be completed in Spring 2019.

In the later phases of the project (from 2019 onwards), our plan is to initiate a longitudinal study from early pregnancy to the child’s first year, which will also include measurements of brain activity from parents and infants. We will inform about the next steps and new results of the project here and on the Facebook page of the Human Information Processing Laboratory, so stay tuned!

TransParent is directed by Mikko Peltola, PhD (Twitter / ResearchGate) and the current team consists of three 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 (Helena Rutherford, Amanda Hahn, Lane Strathearn).

If you have any questions about the project, please contact Mikko Peltola.