An inability to identify children who are at risk for mental illness early in life limits the impact that programs of prevention, intervention, and treatment can have on lifetime mental health. Systems of approach/withdrawal and systems of cognitive control are impaired or altered in both individuals with internalizing and individuals wih externalizing problems. Both of these systems emerge early in life and are quantifiable using measures of neural activity. Research that delineates the association among these developing systems and early-childhood risk for psychopathology would both clarify the roles of approach/withdrawal and cognitive control as mechanisms of risk for disorder, but also directly impact the effects of early childhood programs of prevention, intervention, and treatment. The applicant has received substantial training in biological markers of risk for anxiety problems and has expertise in the use of the event-related potential (ERP) technique with preschoolers. This application proposes the training that is necessary for the next step of this research, which is to use electroencephalography (EEG) to examine precursors of risk during infancy and track the development of risk for internalizing (i.e., social anxiety) and externalizing (i.e., ADHD) over time. Training goals involve developing conceptual and methodological foundations in the use of EEG with infants, expanding expertise to include the development of externalizing problems, and gaining familiarity with the use of clinical instruments. The specific research aims are to: (1 identify typical and atypical patterns of neurodevelopment for putative markers of risk for social anxiety and ADHD, (2) determine whether putative risk markers represent independent factors of risk or manifestations of a general underlying vulnerability, and (3) test whether putative markers of early risk predict early childhood symptoms of disorder. The proposed training plan is critical to the candidate's transition to an independent line of psychophysiological research, a it provides complete training in the use of both EEG and ERP throughout infancy, toddlerhood, and preschool. Research will be conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison department of Psychology. Researchers with expertise in neurophysiology, child development, temperament, and psychopathology will serve as mentors. The proposed research is relevant to public health because it has the potential to improve knowledge of the links between neurodevelopment and psychological disorders in young children. This, in turn, can improve our ability to create more targeted and effective programs to prevent and treat psychological disorders.

Public Health Relevance

This research will characterize developmental trajectories of neural markers of risk for Social Anxiety Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder between 6 months and 5 years of age. This research will be crucial for accurately identifying which children are at risk for mental illness and allow programs of prevention, intervention, and treatment that to intervene early in life, maximizing their potential benefits on lifetime mental health.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Scientist Development Award - Research & Training (K01)
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Child Psychopathology and Developmental Disabilities Study Section (CPDD)
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Sarampote, Christopher S
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Montana State University - Bozeman
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Brooker, Rebecca J; Buss, Kristin A (2014) Toddler fearfulness is linked to individual differences in error-related negativity during preschool. Dev Neuropsychol 39:1-8
Brooker, Rebecca J; Buss, Kristin A (2014) Harsh parenting and fearfulness in toddlerhood interact to predict amplitudes of preschool error-related negativity. Dev Cogn Neurosci 9:148-59
Brooker, Rebecca J; Buss, Kristin A; Lemery-Chalfant, Kathryn et al. (2014) Profiles of observed infant anger predict preschool behavior problems: moderation by life stress. Dev Psychol 50:2343-52