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Infant EEG and temperament negative affectivity: Coherence of vulnerabilities to mothers' perinatal depression

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 October 2016

Cara M. Lusby
Emory University
Sherryl H. Goodman
Emory University
Ellen W. Yeung
Arizona State University
Martha Ann Bell
Virginia Tech
Zachary N. Stowe
Emory University
E-mail address:


Associations between infants' frontal EEG asymmetry and temperamental negative affectivity (NA) across infants' first year of life and the potential moderating role of maternal prenatal depressive symptoms were examined prospectively in infants (n = 242) of mothers at elevated risk for perinatal depression. In predicting EEG, in the context of high prenatal depressive symptoms, infant NA and frontal EEG asymmetry were negatively associated at 3 months of age and positively associated by 12 months of age. By contrast, for low depression mothers, infant NA and EEG were not significantly associated at any age. Postnatal depressive symptoms did not add significantly to the models. Dose of infants' exposure to maternal depression mattered: infants exposed either pre- or postnatally shifted from a positive association at 3 months to a negative association at 12 months; those exposed both pre- and postnatally shifted from a negative association at 3 months to a positive association at 12 months. Prenatal relative to postnatal exposure did not matter for patterns of association between NA and EEG. The findings highlight the importance of exploring how vulnerabilities at two levels of analysis, behavioral and psychophysiological, co-occur over the course of infancy and in the context of mothers' depressive symptomatology.

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