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)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Child Psychopathology and Developmental Disabilities Study Section (CPDD)
Program Officer
Sarampote, Christopher S
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Wisconsin Madison
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
Zip Code
Brooker, Rebecca J (2018) Maternal Behavior and Socioeconomic Status Predict Longitudinal Changes in Error-Related Negativity in Preschoolers. Child Dev 89:725-733
Van Hulle, Carol A; Moore, Mollie N; Lemery-Chalfant, Kathryn et al. (2017) Infant stranger fear trajectories predict anxious behaviors and diurnal cortisol rhythm during childhood. Dev Psychopathol 29:1119-1130
Brooker, Rebecca J; Canen, Mara J; Davidson, Richard J et al. (2017) Short- and long-term stability of alpha asymmetry in infants: Baseline and affective measures. Psychophysiology 54:1100-1109
Canen, Mara J; Brooker, Rebecca J (2017) ERN, theta power, and risk for anxiety problems in preschoolers. Biol Psychol 123:103-110
Najjar, Reema; Brooker, Rebecca J (2017) Delta-beta coupling is associated with paternal caregiving behaviors during preschool. Int J Psychophysiol 112:31-39
Brooker, Rebecca J; Davidson, Richard J; Goldsmith, H Hill (2016) Maternal negative affect during infancy is linked to disrupted patterns of diurnal cortisol and alpha asymmetry across contexts during childhood. J Exp Child Psychol 142:274-90
Brooker, Rebecca J; Kiel, Elizabeth J; Buss, Kristin A (2016) Early social fear predicts kindergarteners' socially anxious behaviors: Direct associations, moderation by inhibitory control, and differences from nonsocial fear. Emotion 16:997-1010
Phelps, Randi A; Brooker, Rebecca J; Buss, Kristin A (2016) Toddlers' dysregulated fear predicts delta-beta coupling during preschool. Dev Cogn Neurosci 17:28-34
Brooker, Rebecca J; Phelps, Randi A; Davidson, Richard J et al. (2016) Context differences in delta beta coupling are associated with neuroendocrine reactivity in infants. Dev Psychobiol 58:406-18
Brooker, R J; Alto, K M; Marceau, K et al. (2016) Early inherited risk for anxiety moderates the association between fathers' child-centered parenting and early social inhibition. J Dev Orig Health Dis 7:602-615

Showing the most recent 10 out of 15 publications