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PSYCHOBIOLOGY OF SELF ‐ REGULATION: STRESS PHYSIOLOGY AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONS IN EARLY CHILDHOOD CLANCY BLAIR, PHD DEPARTMENT OF APPLIED.

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Presentation on theme: "PSYCHOBIOLOGY OF SELF ‐ REGULATION: STRESS PHYSIOLOGY AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONS IN EARLY CHILDHOOD CLANCY BLAIR, PHD DEPARTMENT OF APPLIED."— Presentation transcript:

1 PSYCHOBIOLOGY OF SELF ‐ REGULATION: STRESS PHYSIOLOGY AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONS IN EARLY CHILDHOOD CLANCY BLAIR, PHD DEPARTMENT OF APPLIED PSYCHOLOGY STEINHARDT SCHOOL OF CULTURE, EDUCATION, AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT NEW YORK UNIVERSITY Departments of Psychology and Human Ecology and the Community ‐ University Partnership for the Study of Children, Youth, and Families at the University of Alberta January 21, 2013

2 Self-Regulation  Self-Regulation is composed of multiple components  Cognitive Executive functions and the control of attention  Emotional Reactivity and regulation of the timing and intensity of emotional responses  Physiological Reactivity and regulation of stress response systems

3 Self-Regulation: What is It?  Self-Regulation –  coordination of activity in multiple systems in response to stimulation (internal as well as external) that can be arrayed along a continuum from effortful to automatic  Bottom-up as well as Top-down

4 – Executive Functions Working Memory, Inhibitory Control, Attention Flexibility – Attention Alerting, Orienting – Emotional Reactivity and Regulation Positive and Negative – Stress Physiology Sympathetic, Parasympathetic, HPA – Genes Neuromodulator Receptor Function Controlled Automatic The Architecture of Self-Regulation

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6 Neurobiology  Bottom-up signaling via hormones – cortisol, dopamine, norepinephrine that act as neuromodulators  Top-down activity in prefrontal cortex systems associated with working memory, inhibitory control, attention flexibility  How are bottom-up and top-down influences related?

7 Yerkes-Dodson EMOTION, ATTENTION, PHYSIOLOGY Complex learning, executive function Simple learning, reactivity, fear conditioning EXECUTIV E FUNCTION ABILITY

8 Arnsten & Li (2005). Biological Psychiatry

9 Arnsten (2009). Nature Neuroscience Reviews

10 Context and Development

11 Self-Regulation  Self-regulation in context  Self-regulation early in development is shaped by experiential influences – parenting, home environment, support or lack thereof, for regulating emotion and attention – acting through stress hormones  Leading to generally Reflective or Reactive responses to stimulation

12 Experiential Canalization  Outmoded separation of nature-nurture in which characteristics of the individual exist in isolation from context (statistical interaction)  Gottlieb (1991). How environment and biology combine to shape development in ways appropriate for the context in which development is occurring – biological interaction  As applied to self-regulation (Blair & Raver, 2012), the question is one of the functional role of behavior in context and the extent of malleability

13 Family Life Project  Longitudinal, population based sample (N = 1,292) followed from birth in predominantly non-urban, low-income communities  Data collection in the home at 7, 15, 24, 36, 48, and 60 months of age to assess aspects of parenting and family ecology  Child emotion, attention, stress physiology, and executive functions  Genetic SNPs relating to dopaminergic, adrenergic, glucocorticoid, cholinergic receptor sensitivity

14 Data collection

15 Data collection at 7, 15, and 24 months  Cortisol from saliva at baseline and 20min intervals in response to emotion challenge (mask and toy)  Parenting: observed structured free play coded from video  sensitivity, detachment, positive regard, animation, stimulation for development, intrusiveness and negative regard  Household Chaos  combined household density, hours of TV, preparation for home visits for data collection, cleanliness, neighborhood noise  Cumulative Risk  combined partner, hrs worked, occ prestige, income to need, maternal education, density, safety

16 Chaos and Cortisol 7mos15mos 24mos 48mos Log cortisol µg/dl Blair et al. (2011) Development and Psychopathology

17 Blair et al. (2008) Developmental Psychology Log cortisol μg/dl baseline20-min post40-min post High quality parenting is associated with the cortisol response to emotional arousal at 7 and 15 months Log cortisol μg/dl baseline20-min post40-min post

18 Relation of parenting to the cortisol response at 24mos is dependent on level of child emotional arousal Low emotional arousal: positive parenting associated with low cortisol High emotional arousal: positive parenting associated with high cortisol (reactivity)

19 Executive Function

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28 “Here are two pictures. Something’s the same. They are both flowers.”

29 “Here’s another picture. Which of these… is the same as this one?”

30 Executive Function  Executive Functions assessed with a new longitudinal measure at 36, 48, 60 months  Willoughby, Blair, Wirth, & Greenberg (2010). Psych Assessment; Willoughby, Wirth, & Blair (2011). J of Exp Child Psych; Willoughby & Blair (2010) Child Neuropsych  Flipbook format, computer scoring  Inhibitory control, working memory, attention shifting  Addition of Stroop-like sounds, go no-go, and self-ordered pointing tasks at 48 and 60 months

31 Executive Function at age 3 years Income-to- Need Ratio Maternal Education African American ethnicity Parenting Positive 7, 15, 24 mos Cortisol Baseline 7, 15, 24, mos Executive Functions 36 mos Parenting Negative 7, 15, 24 mos -.42*** -.32***.19*** -.46*** -.26***.14**,.34***,.27*** -.15**,.-26*** -.39*** Blair et al. (2011) Child Development IQ 36 mos -.27***.26***.15

32 Emotion and Cognition  Are measures of emotional arousal and reactivity in infancy related to later executive function?  The combination of high level of reactivity with a high level of regulation predicting better executive functioning would be consistent with an optimal arousal hypothesis  Observed reactivity and regulation in response to a fear evoking mask presentation task

33 Mask  Three levels of negative emotional reactivity : low reactivity behaviors such as fussing, whining, frowning, furrowed brow, crinkled nose, slightly open or pressed lips; medium reactivity including crying, wide squared mouth, and eyes open or partially opened; and high reactivity including screams, wails, eyes partially or completely closed, and wide open mouth  Regulation: orienting to the environment and looking to mother; soothing/communication including self- comforting, neutral vocalizations, gesture, and seeking comfort/ contact; and avoidance/active regulation including avoidance, persistence (barrier task only), tension reduction, and rejection

34 Emotional Reactivity and Regulation at 15mos Predict Executive Function at 48mos Ursache et al. (2012) Developmental Psychology

35 Executive Function Development Mean (SD)EF 36EF 48 EF 36 mos.49 (.21) EF 48 mos.62 (.16).45** EF 60 mos.72 (.14).33**.57** months Executive function accuracy

36 Executive Function Change

37 Predictors of Change in EF ParameterEstimateStd. ErrorSig. Intercept Age Age * Age.000 Black State Maternal Ed Cortisol mean Household chaos Positive parenting Negative parenting Age * positive Age * negative Age * cortisol

38 Leveraging Change in Context  Leveraging change in context to strengthen inference about the relation of the environment to outcome  In the FLP data, incremental change in Home quality and Parenting quality between assessment time points is associated with incremental change in executive function  Among children equal in EF ability at age 36mos, change in home environment is associated with change in EF at age 60mos

39 Mean HOME and Change in HOME from 7 to 36 months

40 Predicting Executive Function Change at age 5 bse β Executive Function age HOME score age HOME dif age 5 – age Controlling for household income-to-need, maternal education, child race Blair et al. (in press) Developmental Psychology

41 Latent change model Blair et al. (in press) Developmental Psychology

42 Cortisol, Risk, and Hours in Child Care β =.16, p <.001 β = -.12, p <.04 β =.19 p <.01 β = -.07, p = ns Berry et al. (in press a) Developmental Psychology

43 Gene X Environment  Variants of genes associated with ‘sensitivity’ to dopamine, norepinephrine, and cortisol will be differentially related to executive function ability depending on level of risk in the environment (GxE interaction)  High sensitivity will be associated with low executive function in high risk contexts and high executive function in low risk (high support) contexts  Interaction will take one of three forms

44 Genetics  COMT rs4680 catechol-o-methyltransferase  Substitution of G for A resulting in valine to methionine substitution at position 158, val 158 met, resulting in less efficient (1/3) breakdown (catabolism) of catecholamines in the synapse  Important in PFC where molecular transporters are less abundant  Codominant; met variant may be specific to humans

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47 COMT and EF

48 Conclusions and Implications  A psychobiological model of self-regulation indicates a focus on the function of behavior in context; adaptation  Prevention efforts can recognize the multilevel manifestation of risk (genes, physiology, emotion, cognition) in efforts to reduce or counteract it  Conditions of poverty have been shown to be stressful physiologically for children, but we know relatively little about stress physiology and genetics of self-regulation  Research and theory suggest the importance of the regulation of stress; not that stress is inherently harmful but is something to be managed – controllable vs. uncontrollable

49 Collaborators and Funders Penn State University Mark Greenberg, PhD Doug Granger, PhD Cynthia Stifter, PhD Leah Hibel, PhD Katie Kivlighan, PhD Kristine Voegtline, PhD UNC Chapel Hill Lynne Vernon-Feagans, PhD Martha Cox, PhD Margaret Burchinal, PhD Mike Willoughby, PhD Patricia Garrett-Peters, PhD Roger Mills-Koonce, PhD Eloise Neebe, MA Laura Kuhn, MA Funding National Institute of Child Health and Human Development R03 HD39750, P01 HD39667, R01 HD51502 (ARRA) Institute of Education Sciences R305A New York University Cybele Raver, PhD, Daniel Berry, PhD Alexandra Ursache, MA Eric Finegood Alyssa Pintar Rachel McKinnon


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