Family nurture intervention increases term age forebrain EEG activity: A multicenter replication trial

Martha G. Welch, Philip G. Grieve, Raymond I. Stark, Joseph R. Isler, Robert J. Ludwig, Amie A. Hane, Alice Gong, Umber Darilek, Judy Austin, Michael M. Myers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: This trial (RCT-2) sought to replicate the EEG findings of a randomized controlled trial of Family Nurture Intervention in the NICU (FNI-NICU) (RCT-1) comparing infants receiving standard care (SC) with infants receiving SC plus FNI. Methods: RCT-2 (NCT02710474) was conducted at two NICUs. Subjects were randomly assigned to receive SC or FNI during their NICU stay. The primary outcome was EEG power in the frontal polar region at 39–41 weeks gestational age (GA). Sixty preterm infants (26–34 weeks GA; 33 SC, 27 FNI) were assessed. FNI-NICU consisted of repeated calming sessions (∼4 times/week) facilitated by Nurture Specialists during which mothers engaged in emotional expression during clothed or skin-to-skin holding, vocal soothing, and eye contact. EEGs were collected from 128 leads. EEG power was computed using Fast Fourier Transforms. Results: RCT-2 replicated RCT-1 results; FNI-NICU led to significantly increased frontal polar power at frequencies > 12 Hz. Effects were spatially more widespread than in RCT-1, with substantial effect sizes (∼0.50) in frontal and parietal regions. Conclusions: RCT-2 results provide further evidence that FNI-NICU increases term age brain activity. Significance: FNI-NICU is designed to facilitate autonomic emotional connection and coregulation between mothers and infants in the NICU resulting in profound effects on early brain development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-60
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • Emotional connection
  • Mother-infant relational health
  • Premature infant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Physiology (medical)


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