The body comes first. Embodied reparation and the co-creation of infant bodily-self

Rosario Montirosso, Francis McGlone

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


During infancy relational experiences of body-to-body exchanges (i.e., embodied interactions) contribute to the infant's bodily perception. Early embodied interactions are based on countless multimodal reciprocal exchanges, in which mother and infant contribute to interpersonal rhythmic cycles of co-regulation (i.e., attunement). However, it remains unclear how infants and their mothers actually accomplish attunement in their exchanges. Interactions between mothers and their infants typically fluctuate between attuned and misattuned states and recovery attunement states by a process called ‘reparation’. Here, we discuss recent neuroscientific evidence that provides insight into the mechanisms underpinning the concepts of attunement and misattunement in early embodied interactions. We propose that a process of embodied reparation might be achieved within the dyad through tactile contact behaviors (e.g., skin-to-skin, affectionate touch) and maternal interoceptive sensitivity (i.e., ability to perceive internal input about the state of one's own body). We describe how these elements that mothers provide during embodied interactions with their infants, might contribute not only to bodily attunement, but also to co-create the infant bodily-self.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-87
Number of pages11
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • Affectionate touch
  • Bio-behavioral synchrony
  • Early interaction
  • Embodied interaction
  • Embodied reparation
  • Infant bodily-self
  • Maternal interoceptive sensitivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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