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Personal Relationships, Interpersonal Stress, and Mindfulness (PRISM) Lab
Personal Relationships, Interpersonal Stress, and Mindfulness (PRISM) Lab
Personal Relationships, Interpersonal Stress, and Mindfulness (PRISM) Lab
Heidemarie Laurent

Our interdisciplinary research aims to discover what supports flourishing in the face of life stress, and to promote resilience within families at risk for stress-related mental and/or physical health problems.

Toward this aim, we investigate links in the chain by which stress-related health difficulties (i.e., depression, anxiety) are perpetuated, using stress physiology monitoring, neuroimaging, and/or behavioral observation as people respond to stressors in close relationships; and how practices based in mindfulness and compassion can support stress regulation and interrupt intergenerational cycles of suffering.

Ongoing studies

Women and Infants’ Stress and Health (WISH) icon-olus-circle

This project investigates how child-bearers’ stress, mental health, and mindfulness across pregnancy-postpartum calibrate their baby’s biological systems—e.g., HPA axis, inflammatory markers—that form the basis for lifelong stress regulation. The study involves diagnostic interviews and questionnaires, behavioral observations during structured mother/baby tasks, and saliva and stool sampling for physiological stress markers.

  • If you are interested in participating in the WISH Project, take the WISH eligibility questionnaire. Initial eligibility requires that you are less than 32 weeks pregnant, over the age of 18, and English-speaking.

Coping with it All from Labor to Maternity (CALM) icon-olus-circle

This project investigates the effects of childbirth education—Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting (MBCP)—on child-bearers’ mental health and bonding with their babies across pregnancy-postpartum using both behavioral/questionnaire and brain (fMRI) measures.

  • If you are interested in participating in the CALM Project, take the CALM eligibility questionnaire. Initial eligibility requires that you are less than 28 weeks pregnant, over the age of 18, and English-speaking.

How to Get Involved

The PRISM Lab is currently looking for undergraduate and graduate students who would like to be involved in our research (either on a paid or for-credit basis) at both our University Park lab and the Parents and Children Together (PACT) center in Harrisburg. Research assistants will have the opportunity to gain experience in various aspects of study implementation that may include assisting with recruitment and study sessions, administering tasks to assess interpersonal stress and/or babies’ emotion regulation and executive function, data management, and helping to prepare research presentations and manuscripts for publication. Applicants with experience and interest in developmental or clinical psychology and family relationships are particularly encouraged to apply.

If you are interested in participating in the WISH project or CALM project, use the Ongoing Studies links above to submit an eligibility questionnaire.

Contact Information

Additional Information

Affiliates icon-olus-circle
  • Parents and Children (PACT) Center in Harrisburg

  • Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, obstetrics

Representative Publications icon-olus-circle
  • Dawson, D., Fairbairn, C., Jones, M., & Laurent, H. K. (2022). Efficacy of acceptance-based behavioral treatments with African Americans: A meta-analysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 90, 123-136. 

  • Volpe, V. V., Dawson, D. N., & Laurent, H. K. (2022). Gender discrimination and women’s HPA activation to psychosocial stress during the postnatal period. Health Psychology, 27, 352-362. 

  • Dawson, D. N., Volpe, V. V., & Laurent, H. K. (2021). Synergistic effects of psychological intimate partner violence exposure and gender discrimination on postnatal mental health trajectories. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 36, NP8907-NP8932. 

  • Finnegan, M. K., Kane, S., Heller, W., & Laurent, H. (2021). Mothers’ neural response to valenced infant interactions predicts postpartum depression and anxiety. PLoS ONE, 16, e0250487. 

  • Laurent, H. K., Sbrilli, M., Dawson, D., Finnegan, M., & Ramdas-Neal, D. (2021). Disentangling levels of mother-infant neuroendocrine attunement and longitudinal relations with maternal risk/protective factors. Developmental Psychobiology, 63, 88-97. 

  • Ramdas, D. L., Sbrilli, M. D., & Laurent, H. K. (2021). Impact of maternal trauma-related psychopathology and life stress on HPA axis stress response. Archives of Women’s Mental Health, 25, 121-128. 

  • Sbrilli, M. D., Haigler, K., & Laurent, H. K. (2021). The indirect effect of parental intolerance of uncertainty on perinatal mental health via mindfulness during COVID-19. Mindfulness, 12, 1999-2008. 

  • Cintora, P., & Laurent, H. K. (2020). Childhood trauma exacerbates the impact of concurrent intimate partner violence exposure on women’s trauma symptoms. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 33, 1102-1110. 

  • Nelson, B. W., Bernstein, R., Allen, N. B., & Laurent, H. K. (2020). The quality of early infant-caregiver attachment and longitudinal changes in infant inflammation across 6 months. Developmental Psychobiology, 62, 674-683. 

  • Nelson, B. W., Wright, D. B., Allen, N. B., & Laurent, H. K. (2020). Maternal stress and social support prospectively predict infant inflammation. Brain, Behavior and Immunity, 86, 14-21. 

  • Kern, S., & Laurent, H. K. (2019). Childhood abuse predicts affective symptoms via HPA reactivity during mother-infant stress. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 107, 19-25. 

  • Khan, F., & Laurent, H. K. (2019). Assessing the impact of mindfulness and life stress on maternal well-being. Mindfulness, 10, 26-35. 

  • Laurent, H. K., Wright, D., & Finnegan, M. (2018). Mindfulness-related differences in neural response to own infant negative versus positive emotion contexts. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 30, 70-76. 

  • Laurent, H. K. (2017). Early calibration of the HPA axis by maternal psychopathology. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 78, 177-184. 

  • Laurent, H. K., Duncan, L. G., Lightcap, A., & Khan, F. (2017). Mindful parenting predicts mothers’ and infants’ hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal activity during a dyadic stressor. Developmental Psychology, 53, 417-424. 

  • Wright, D. B., Laurent, H. K., & Ablow, J. C. (2017). Mothers who were neglected in childhood show differences in neural response to their infant’s cry. Child Maltreatment, 22, 158-166. 

  • Bernstein, R., Laurent, S. M., & Laurent, H. K. (2016). Much ado about your thing: Conflict context moderates the effect of romantic attachment on self-partner overlap. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, 5, 168-179. 

  • Laurent, H. K., Hertz, R., Nelson, B., & Laurent, S. M. (2016). Mindfulness during romantic conflict moderates the impact of negative partner behaviors on cortisol responses. Hormones and Behavior, 79, 45-51. 

  • Laurent, H. K., Laurent, S. M., Lightcap, A., & Nelson, B. (2016). How situational mindfulness during conflict stress relates to well-being. Mindfulness, 7, 909-915. 

  • Hertz, R. M., Laurent, H. K., & Laurent, S. M. (2015). Attachment mediates effects of trait mindfulness on stress responses to conflict. Mindfulness, 6, 483-489. 

  • Laurent, H. K., Nelson, B., Wright, D., De Araujo, M., & Laurent, S. (2015). Dispositional mindfulness moderates the effect of a brief mindfulness induction on physiological stress responses. Mindfulness, 6, 1192-1200. 

  • Laurent, H. K., & Ablow, J. C. (2013). A face a mother could love: Depression-related maternal neural responses to infant emotion faces. Social Neuroscience, 8, 228-239. 

  • Laurent, H., Laurent, S., Hertz, R., Egan-Wright, D., & Granger, D. A. (2013). Sex-specific effects of mindfulness on romantic partners’ cortisol responses to conflict and relations with psychological adjustment. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 38, 2905-2913. 

  • Laurent, H. K., & Ablow, J. C. (2012). The missing link: Mothers’ neural response to infant cry related to infant attachment behaviors. Infant Behavior and Development, 35, 1-12. 

  • Laurent, H. K., & Ablow, J. C. (2012). A cry in the dark: Depressed mothers show reduced neural activation to their own infant’s cry. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 7, 125-134. 

  • Musser, E., Kaiser-Laurent, H., & Ablow, J. C. (2012). Neural correlates of maternal sensitivity, intrusiveness, and mother-infant dyadic harmony: An fMRI study. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 2, 428-436. 

  • Laurent, H. K., Stevens, A., & Ablow, J. C. (2011). Neural correlates of mothers’ hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal regulation with their infants. Biological Psychiatry, 70, 826-832. 

Recent Grants icon-olus-circle
  • Engaging Stakeholders in Perinatal Depression Research in the Context of COVID-19; Funder: Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI); PI: Karen Tabb Dina; Role: Co-Investigator (8/1/20-7/31/21)

  • Neurobehavioral Effects of Prenatal Mindfulness Training on Maternal Presence and Compassionate Love; Funder: Mind and Life PEACE Grant; Role: PI (12/1/18-6/30/23) 

  • Racial/Ethnic Differences in Perceived Perinatal Depression Screening Quality; Funder: UIUC School of Social Work Research Incentive Program; PI: Karen Tabb Dina; Role: Co-Investigator (12/18/19-2/1/20) 

  • Maternal Depression Calibrates Infants’ Neuroendocrine, Autonomic, and Inflammatory Stress Responsiveness R01HD093627-01A1; Funder: National Institute of Child Health & Human Development; Role: PI (8/3/18-5/31/23)