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Behavioral Inhibition (BI) is a temperament type that predicts social withdrawal in childhood and anxiety disorders later in life. However, not all BI children develop anxiety. Attention bias (AB) may enhance the vulnerability for anxiety in BI children, and interfere with their development of effective emotion regulation. In order to fully probe attention patterns, we used traditional measures of reaction time (RT), stationary eye-tracking, and recently emerging mobile eye-tracking measures of attention in a sample of 5- to 7-year-olds characterized as BI (N = 23) or non-BI (N = 58) using parent reports. There were no BI-related differences in RT or stationary eye-tracking indices of AB in a dot-probe task. However, findings in a subsample from whom eye-tracking data were collected during a live social interaction indicated that BI children (N = 12) directed fewer gaze shifts to the stranger than non-BI children (N = 25). Moreover, the frequency of gazes toward the stranger was positively associated with stationary AB only in BI, but not in non-BI, children. Hence, BI was characterized by a consistent pattern of attention across stationary and ambulatory measures. We demonstrate the utility of mobile eye-tracking as an effective tool to extend the assessment of attention and regulation to social interactive contexts.
Koraly Pérez-Edgar, Department of Psychology, The Pennsylvania State University.
Thank you to Bradley Taber-Thomas and Amanda Guyer for their excellent advice and commentary on earlier drafts of this chapter. Support for manuscript preparation was provided by a grant from the National Institutes of Health to Koraly Pérez-Edgar (MH# 094633).
Correspondence concerning this chapter should be addressed to Koraly Pérez-Edgar, Department of Psychology, The Pennsylvania State University, 270 Moore Bldg, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802-3106. E-mail: email@example.com
Behavioral inhibition, a temperament identifiable in infancy, is associated with heightened withdrawal from social encounters. Prior studies raise particular interest in the striatum, which responds uniquely to monetary gains in behaviorally inhibited children followed into adolescence. Although behavioral manifestations of inhibition are expressed primarily in the social domain, it remains unclear whether observed striatal alterations to monetary incentives also extend to social contexts. In the current study, imaging data were acquired from 39 participants (17 males, 22 females; ages 16–18 years) characterized since infancy on measures of behavioral inhibition. A social evaluation task was used to assess neural response to anticipation and receipt of positive and negative feedback from novel peers, classified by participants as being of high or low interest. As with monetary rewards, striatal response patterns differed during both anticipation and receipt of social reward between behaviorally inhibited and noninhibited adolescents. The current results, when combined with prior findings, suggest that early-life temperament predicts altered striatal response in both social and nonsocial contexts and provide support for continuity between temperament measured in early childhood and neural response to social signals measured in late adolescence and early adulthood.
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