Myron Hofer, MD

Profile Headshot

Profile Navigation

Overview

Academic Appointments

  • Sackler Institute Professor Emeritus of Developmental Psycho Biology and Special Lecture in Psychiatry

Dr. Hofer's research interests have centered on the role of the parent-infant relationship as the first major environmental influence on postnatal development. He and his colleagues have explored how early maternal separation and different patterns of mothering exert long-term effects on offspring vulnerability to disease.

Through an experimental analysis of the psychobiological interactions that enmesh the infant rat and its mother, they have discovered hidden regulatory processes that have become the basis for a new understanding of the early origins of attachment, the dynamics of the separation response, and the shaping of development by that first relationship.

Recently, Dr. Hofer has become interested in the emerging conceptual synthesis of Development, Ecology and Evolution, and in how this leads to a new understanding of the multi-generational origins of disease.

Currently, he has become involved in a novel clinical intervention study designed to enhance specific maternal interactions with their prematurely born infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Author: The Roots Of Human Behavior, 1981; Journal Editor: Psychosomatic Medicine, 1972-99, Behavioral Neuroscience, 1993-97, Developmental Psychobiology, 1981-present. NIMH Research Scientist Award 1968-2003, NIMH Merit Award 1986-96. International Soc. for Developmental Psychobiology (President 1980-81), American Psychosomatic Soc. (President 1982-83). Thomas William Salmon Award Lectures (1996). Sandor Rado Award Lecture (2008). Senior Investigator Award, International Society for Developmental Psychobiology (2009). Paul Hoch Award, American Psychopathological Association (2012).

Research

I am interested in the developmental origins of psychiatric illness, the environmental influences that shape early development, and in the early parent-infant relationship in particular. I and my colleagues have explored how early maternal separation and different patterns of mothering exert long-term effects on offspring vulnerability to disease. Through an experimental analysis of the psychobiological interactions that enmesh the infant rat and its mother, we have discovered hidden regulatory processes that have become the basis for a new understanding of the early origins of attachment, the dynamics of the separation response and the shaping of development by that first relationship.

Lately, I have become interested in theoretical aspects of development as it relates to evolution and in defining principles that can help bridge the gap between developmental processes at the molecular/cellular, behavioral, and psychological levels. Most recently, I have become a consultant on an intervention study in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at CUMC, in which we are attempting to put into practice some of the principles of early regulatory interactions that have come from the animal model research described above.

Research Interests

  • Psychiatry
  • Developmental Psychobiology

Clinical Trials

Randomized Control Study:- "Family Nurture Intervention"

      Studying the developmental effects on prematurely born infants of increased and enhanced interactions with their mothers starting in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, as early as possible after birth:- in and out of the isolette starting as early as possible after birth, and later during holding and skin-to-skin contact holding sessions out of the isolette.  Infant and child development is assessed in he NICU, and after discharge at 4 and 18 weeks and 

Selected Publications

  • Hofer,MA: The emerging synthesis of development and evolution: A new biology for psychoanalysis;
  • Response to commentaries.. Neuropsychoanalysis: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Psychoanalysis and Neuroscience 2014;16: 3-22 ; 53-56
  • Welch MG, Myers MM, Grieve PG, Isler JR, Fifer WP, Sahni R, Hofer MA, Austin J, Ludwig RJ, Stark RI,: Electroencephalographic activity of preterm infants is increased by Family Nurture Intervention: A randomized controlled trial in the NICU. . Clin. Neurophysiol. 2013;125: 675-684
  • Schechter DS, Moser DA, Wang Z, Marsh R, Hao X, Duan Y, Yu S, Gunter B, Murphy D, McCaw J, Kangarlu A, Willheim E, Myers MM, Hofer MA, Peterson BS.: An fMRI study of brain responses of traumatized mothers to viewing their toddlers during separation and play.. Social, cognitive and affective neurosciences 2012;7: 969-979
  • Hofer, M.A.: Developmental Neuroscience In: Berntson G.G. and Cacioppo J.T. (Eds.): Handbook Of Neuroscience For The Behavioral Sciences., John Wiley, New York, NY, USA, 2009
  • Hofer MA, Sullivan RM : Toward a Neurobiology of Attachment In: C. A. Nelson and M. Luciana (Eds.): Handbook of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, M.I.T. Press, Cambridge, MA, USA, 2008