Individual differences of self regulation have been the focus of temperament research. The emergence of these early regulatory processes may have implications for cognitive development as well. Late in the first year infants begin to exhibit inhibitory control on working memory tasks. It may be, however, that the inhibitory processes associated with cognitive behaviors are similar to those associated with temperament. Indeed, there is much speculation in the infant literature that some relation exists between temperament and cognitive processing, although no known developmental studies have been designed to explore the beginnings of these associations during infancy. The brain/behavior system that has the capacity to tie together these cognitive and temperament processes is Posner's anterior attention system. This system focuses on the emotion (i.e. temperament)-attention and cognitive-attention functions of the anterior cingulate gyms. The goal of this proposed research is to examine the associations between the regulatory processes associated with cognition and temperament. This research project will constitute the infant portion of a longitudinal study. The general hypothesis of this proposed work is that individual differences in temperament, the moderating role of the environment, and the regulatory processes associated with temperament, contribute to individual differences in cognitive processing. Infants will be assessed on cognitive and temperament measures at 5 and 10 months of age. Both behavioral and physiological (EEG, EKG) measures will be utilized. There are 2 primary hypotheses: 1) Maternal sensitivity moderates the effect of temperamental distress on working memory performance. 2) The infant's regulatory processes mediate the maternal sensitivity by temperamental distress moderation effect on working memory performance. These hypotheses are specific to the 10-month assessment period, the time at which early attentional/regulatory processes begin to develop. These hypotheses will not be supported at the 5-month assessment period, prior to the development of these regulatory processes. These data will be unique because they will be the first attempt to examine the effects of an interaction between temperament and environment on cognition during infancy using multiple physiological and behavioral indices. The results of this integration of infant emotion and cognition will advance understanding of typical development. Likewise, they have the potential to generate hypotheses about foundations for the development of extremes in self-regulation (i.e., attention deficit disorder, depression) and associated complexities in cognition. ? ?

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Small Research Grants (R03)
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Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZHD1-DSR-H (01))
Program Officer
Freund, Lisa S
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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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