The Genetics of Emotional Ontogeny (GEO) project entails two fine-grained longitudinal studies of behavioral development in twins. Genetic and environmental underpinnings of the timing of behavioral development are investigated. Previous twin studies have frequently focused on the level of expression of emotional, social, and cognitive behaviors, but seldomly on the timing of behavioral development. Biobehavioral scientists seem confident that dynamic gene action affects behavioral change throughout the lifespan, yet a genetic basis for the timing of such changes has not been convincingly demonstrated. The primary study, Project A, is a longitudinal twin study with biweekly laboratory to assessment, supplemented by maternal report. Thus, even short intrapair differences in the appearance of a newly organized affective-behavioral patterns, such as social smiling, can be detected. During the first year, the initial appearance and increasing organization of primary emotions (e.g., joy, anger, and fear) is studied. Later, the emergence of more complex social emotional reactions (e.g., empathy, pride, shame, and guilt) is studied. The three-pronged assessment approach includes (1) weekly maternal reports; (2) biweekly elicitation of emotional reactions during laboratory visits; and (3) brief interviews with mothers. It is unlikely that the rate of emotional development is independent of changes in other domains, so fine-grained ordinal scales to assess thc timing of maturation in certain physical, motoric, and cognitive domains is included. These include neonatal reflexes, motoric skills, spatial search ability, lateralization, cognitive sophistication of social play, and ability to represent the self. Project B is designed to increase the sample size for key analyses economically. It involves recruiting larger numbers of twins and assessing them with an abbreviated protocol that can be implemented by regular visits to the home in a research van, questionnaires, and telephone interviews. This extended study focuses only on certain key time periods.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
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Human Development and Aging Subcommittee 3 (HUD)
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University of Wisconsin Madison
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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; 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
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Volbrecht, Michele M; Goldsmith, H Hill (2010) Early temperamental and family predictors of shyness and anxiety. Dev Psychol 46:1192-205
Kiel, Elizabeth J; Buss, Kristin A (2006) Maternal accuracy in predicting toddlers' behaviors and associations with toddlers' fearful temperament. Child Dev 77:355-70
Buss, Kristin A; Goldsmith, H Hill; Davidson, Richard J (2005) Cardiac reactivity is associated with changes in negative emotion in 24-month-olds. Dev Psychobiol 46:118-32

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