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Parenting style moderates the effects of exposure to natural disaster-related stress on the neural development of reactivity to threat and reward in children

  • Ellen M. Kessel (a1), Brady D. Nelson (a1), Megan Finsaas (a1), Autumn Kujawa (a2), Alexandria Meyer (a3), Evelyn Bromet (a4), Gabrielle A. Carlson (a4), Greg Hajcak (a3), Roman Kotov (a4) and Daniel N. Klein (a1)...


Little is known about the effect of natural disasters on children's neural development. Additionally, despite evidence that stress and parenting may both influence the development of neural systems underlying reward and threat processing, few studies have brought together these areas of research. The current investigation examined the effect of parenting styles and hurricane-related stress on the development of neural reactivity to reward and threat in children. Approximately 8 months before and 9 months after Hurricane Sandy, 74 children experiencing high and low levels of hurricane-related stress completed tasks that elicited the reward positivity and error-related negativity, event-related potentials indexing sensitivity to reward and threat, respectively. At the post-Hurricane assessment, children completed a self-report questionnaire to measure promotion- and prevention-focused parenting styles. Among children exposed to high levels of hurricane-related stress, lower levels of promotion-focused, but not prevention-focused, parenting were associated with a reduced post-Sandy reward positivity. In addition, in children with high stress exposure, greater prevention-focused, but not promotion-focused, parenting was associated with a larger error-related negativity after Hurricane Sandy. These findings highlight the need to consider contextual variables such as parenting when examining how exposure to stress alters the development of neural reactivity to reward and threat in children.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Ellen M. Kessel, Department of Psychology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-2500. E-mail:


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Parenting style moderates the effects of exposure to natural disaster-related stress on the neural development of reactivity to threat and reward in children

  • Ellen M. Kessel (a1), Brady D. Nelson (a1), Megan Finsaas (a1), Autumn Kujawa (a2), Alexandria Meyer (a3), Evelyn Bromet (a4), Gabrielle A. Carlson (a4), Greg Hajcak (a3), Roman Kotov (a4) and Daniel N. Klein (a1)...


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