SAGE Journal Articles

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Journal Article 2.1: Mehr, S. A., Kotler, J., Howard, R. M., Haig, D., & Krasnow, M. M. (2017). Genomic imprinting is implicated in the psychology of music. Psychological Science, 28, 1455–1467.

Learning Objective: 2.1: Discuss the genetic foundations of development.

Abstract: Why do people sing to babies? Human infants are relatively altricial and need their parents’ attention to survive. Infant-directed song may constitute a signal of that attention. In Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS), a rare disorder of genomic imprinting, genes from chromosome 15q11–q13 that are typically paternally expressed are unexpressed, which results in exaggeration of traits that reduce offspring’s investment demands on the mother. PWS may thus be associated with a distinctive musical phenotype. We report unusual responses to music in people with PWS. Subjects with PWS (N = 39) moved more during music listening, exhibited greater reductions in heart rate in response to music listening, and displayed a specific deficit in pitch-discrimination ability relative to typically developing adults and children (N = 589). Paternally expressed genes from 15q11–q13, which are unexpressed in PWS, may thus increase demands for music and enhance perceptual sensitivity to music. These results implicate genomic imprinting in the psychology of music, informing theories of music’s evolutionary history.

Summary: This article reports unusual perceptual and behavioral responses to music among individuals with Prader–Willi syndrome. The authors argue that these findings suggest that at least some aspects of music perception are hardwired in the human genome. The research enriches students’ knowledge of genomic imprinting.

Journal Article 2.2: Ziv, I., & Freund-Eschar, Y. (2015). The pregnancy experience of gay couples expecting a child through overseas surrogacy. The Family Journal, 23, 14.

Learning Objective: 2.3: Discuss the choices available to prospective parents in having healthy children.

Abstract: This study aims to analyze the emotional experience of pregnancy for gay couples who turn to overseas surrogacy and face a geographical distance from the pregnancy. In-depth interviews were conducted with 16 gay intended fathers, mean age 35.5 years, most of whom expected a child through surrogacy in India. The unborn children’s gestational age ranged from 10 weeks to 32 weeks. A qualitative thematic analysis of the interviews shows that the interviewees felt frustration and anxiety due to their distance from the physical pregnancy and, specifically, their inability to experience the physical presence of the fetus. The resulting emotional disconnect from the developing fetus impacted the development of their parental sense during the pregnancy. The results highlight the importance for the intended parents of establishing a close relationship with the surrogate mother, as is customary in the United States but generally not in countries such as India. The findings support the value of establishing international guidelines for cross-border reproductive services.

Summary: This article describes how geographical distance from the pregnancy negatively affects the experience of gay couples who have turned to overseas surrogacy to have a child. It therefore adds to students’ knowledge of the choices available to prospective parents.