Parasympathetic reactivity and disruptive behavior problems in young children during interactions with their mothers and other adults: A preliminary investigation

Citation:

Cooper-Vince, C. E., DeSerisy, M., Cornacchio, D., Sanchez, A., McLaughlin, K. A., & Comer, J. S. (2017). Parasympathetic reactivity and disruptive behavior problems in young children during interactions with their mothers and other adults: A preliminary investigation. Developmental Psychobiology , 59 (4), 543โ€“550.
PDF178 KB

Date Published:

may

Abstract:

Parasympathetic nervous system influences on cardiac functions-commonly indexed via respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA)-are central to self-regulation. RSA suppression during challenging emotional and cognitive tasks is often associated with better emotional and behavioral functioning in preschoolers. However, the links between RSA suppression and child behavior across various challenging interpersonal contexts remains unclear. The present study experimentally evaluated the relationship between child RSA reactivity to adult (mother vs. study staff) direction and disruptive behavior problems in children ages 3-8 with varying levels of disruptive behavior problems (N = 43). Reduced RSA suppression in the context of mothers' play-based direction was associated with more severe child behavior problems. In contrast, RSA suppression in the context of staff play-based direction was not associated with behavior problems. Findings suggest that the association between RSA suppression and child behavior problems may vary by social context (i.e., mother vs. other adult direction-givers). Findings are discussed in regard to RSA as an indicator of autonomic self-regulation that has relevance to child disruptive behavior problems.

Last updated on 09/06/2018