Towards a neural model of infant cry perception

J. Witteman*, M. H. Van IJzendoorn, J. K. Rilling, P. A. Bos, N. O. Schiller, M. J. Bakermans-Kranenburg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Previous work suggests that infant cry perception is supported by an evolutionary old neural network consisting of the auditory system, the thalamocingulate circuit, the frontoinsular system, the reward pathway and the medial prefrontal cortex. Furthermore, gender and parenthood have been proposed to modulate processing of infant cries. The present meta-analysis (N = 350) confirmed involvement of the auditory system, the thalamocingulate circuit, the dorsal anterior insula, the pre-supplementary motor area and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex and the inferior frontal gyrus in infant cry perception, but not of the reward pathway. Structures related to motoric processing, possibly supporting the preparation of a parenting response, were also involved. Finally, females (more than males) and parents (more than non-parents) recruited a cortico-limbic sensorimotor integration network, offering a neural explanation for previously observed enhanced processing of infant cries in these sub-groups. Based on the results, an updated neural model of infant cry perception is presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-32
Number of pages10
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Early online date30 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


We thank Joaquim Radua and his colleagues for the excellent support on the SDM support website. This work was supported by a European Research Council grant (ERC AdG 669249 ) awarded to M.J.B-K and a Spinoza prize to M.H-vIJ. Appendix B

FundersFunder number
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme669249
European Research Council


    • Auditory
    • Brain
    • Cry
    • Emotion
    • Perception


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