Subproject II represents an extension into a new area that has evolved from our previous work and brings an entire dimension that was not addressed in earlier studies. Development of early social attention and communication skills in the form of joint attention and gestures may be precursors to later language skills. In the mother-infant interaction, both participants bring skills and regulatory capacities that act dynamically in the dyad. Autoregulation of the infant may play an important role in this developmental process. Autoregulation can be represented as a homeostatic system in which there is an optimal level of stimulation from both internal and external sources for the best interaction of the infant with his/her environment. High-risk infants are more likely to have autoregulatory problems that affect their ability to attend to and interact with their social environment. For example, the infant who is disorganized, overaroused, and/or irritable tends to have fewer and/or less efficient autoregulatory strategies and thus tends to be unable to handle increased amounts of stimulation and so turns away from stimulation, whether it is from persons or objects. The infant who is underaroused tends to need more stimulation to bring him/herself to attend to stimuli. Deficits in autoregulation may underlie the deficits in early social attention and communication that are more likely to occur in high-risk infants, and the characteristics of the CNS insult (e.g., acute or chronic) and when it occurs may differentially affect these outcomes. Maternal responsivity to infant autoregulatory capacity would be crucial in this circumstance as different styles and degree of sensitivity could ameliorate or enhance dysfunctional interactions in typically developing infants, but even more so in infants with CNS problems. Moreover, such deficits in early social attention and communication associated with dysfunctional interactions may be precursors for later deficits in language skills that are known to be more prevalent in CNS-injured infants. This project will be able to use information on autoregulation, attention, and reactivity from Core procedures as well as understand how motor regulation as evaluated by Subproject I may play a role in social interactions and communication.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Program Projects (P01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZHD1)
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Institute for Basic Research in Dev Disabil
Staten Island
United States
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