Neurophysiological Predictors of Child Emotion Regulation
Emotion regulation involves modifying emotions to meet goals and manage arousal, and is an important predictor of competence and psychopathology. Emotion regulation is linked to individual differences in cognitive control and affective style, but due to definitional confusion and a paucity of empirical support, it remains unclear how they interact to influence emotion regulation and adjustment in children. Research that combines neurophysiological and behavioral measures may help clarify distinctions among constructs and set the stage for a direct test of this question. For eight years, the applicant, Dr. Tracy Dennis, Ph.D., has used behavioral methods to study child emotion regulation. This K01 application proposes training that is necessary for the next step in this research, using neurophysiological measures, electroencephalography (EEG) asymmetries and event-related brain potentials (ERPs), to examine predictors of emotion regulation and pathways to psychopathology. Short-term goals involve developing knowledge of electrophysiological recording methods, and examining these measures in relation to observed cognitive control, affective style, and emotion regulation. The specific research aims are to: (1) assess the construct validity of ERPs and EEG asymmetries as markers for observed cognitive control and affective style, respectively;and (2) examine whether these measures conjointly predict observed emotion regulation and measures of adjustment. Long-term goals involve augmenting knowledge of emotion regulation as a mechanism in psychopathology. The proposed training plan is critical to the candidate's transition to independent neurophysiological research, providing needed skills in EEG/ERP recording techniques and data analysis. The proposed research plan will assess a model of emotion regulation that is clinically relevant, and will lead to an R01 proposal involving neurophysiological processes in emotion regulation associated with anxiety and mood disorders. Research will be conducted at the Hunter College Department of Psychology. Researchers who are expert in neurophysiology, child development, emotion regulation, and psychopathology will serve as mentors and consultants. The proposed research is relevant to public health because it has the potential to improve knowledge of the links between emotion and psychological disorders. This, in turn, can improve our ability to create more targeted and effective programs to prevent and treat psychological disorders.