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Caregiving experiences are implicated in children’s depression risk; however, children’s neural reactivity to positive and negative feedback from mothers, a potential mediator of depression risk, is poorly understood. In a sample of 81 children (Mage = 11.12 years, SDage = 0.63), some of whom were recruited based on a maternal history of depression (n = 29), we used fMRI to characterize children’s neural responses to maternal praise and criticism. Maternal history of depression was unrelated to children’s brain activity during both the praise and criticism conditions; however, ROI analyses showed that children’s self-reported depressive symptoms were negatively associated with functional activity in the left anterior insula and right putamen while hearing maternal criticism. Whole-brain analyses showed that children’s depressive symptoms were positively associated with left inferior frontal gyrus activity while listening to maternal praise. These findings complement past work implicating these brain regions in the processing of emotionally salient stimuli, reward processing, and internal speech. Given associations between early depressive symptoms and later disorder, findings suggest that maladaptive neural processing of maternal feedback may contribute to children’s early emerging risk for depression.
While child self-regulation is shaped by the environment (e.g., the parents’ caregiving behaviors), children also play an active role in influencing the care they receive, indicating that children's individual differences should be integrated in models relating early care to children's development. We assessed 409 children's observed temperamental behavioral inhibition (BI), effortful control (EC), and the primary caregiver's parenting at child ages 3 and 5. Parents reported on child behavior problems at child ages 3, 5, and 8. Mediation analyses were conducted to examine relations between child temperament and parenting in predicting child problems. BI at age 3 was positively associated with structured parenting at age 5, which was negatively related to child internalizing and attention-academic problems at age 8. In contrast, parenting at child age 3 did not predict child BI or EC at age 5, nor did age 3 EC predict parenting at age 5. Findings indicate that child behavior may shape the development of caregiving and, in turn, long-term child adjustment, suggesting that studies of caregiving and child outcomes should consider the role of child temperament toward developing more informative models of child–environment interplay.
We investigated the extent to which second-language (L2) learning is influenced by the similarity of grammatical features in one's first language (L1). We used event-related potentials to identify neural signatures of a novel grammatical rule – grammatical gender – in L1 English speakers. Of interest was whether individual differences in L2 proficiency and age of acquisition (AoA) influenced these effects. L2 and native speakers of French read French sentences that were grammatically correct, or contained either a grammatical gender or word order violation. Proficiency and AoA predicted Left Anterior Negativity amplitude, with structure violations driving the proficiency effect and gender violations driving the AoA effect. Proficiency, group, and AoA predicted P600 amplitude for gender violations but not structure violations. Different effects of grammatical gender and structure violations indicate that L2 speakers engage novel grammatical processes differently from L1 speakers and that this varies appreciably based on both AoA and proficiency.
We examined spoken sentence comprehension in school-age children with developmental dyslexia or language impairment (LI), compared to age-matched and younger controls. Sentence–picture matching tasks were employed under three different working memory (WM) loads, two levels of syntactic difficulty, and two sentence lengths. Phonological short-term memory (STM) skills and their relation to sentence comprehension performance were also examined. When WM load was minimized, the LI group performed more poorly on the sentence comprehension task compared to the age-matched control group and the dyslexic group. Across groups, sentence comprehension performance generally decreased as the WM load increased, but this effect was somewhat more pronounced in the dyslexic group compared to the age-matched group. Moreover, both the LI and dyslexic groups showed poor phonological STM compared to the age-matched control group, and a significant correlation was observed between phonological STM and sentence comprehension performance under demanding WM loads. The results indicate subtle sentence processing difficulties in dyslexia that might be explained as resulting from these children's phonological STM limitations.
Clahsen has added to the body of evidence that, on average, regular and irregular inflected words behave differently. However, the dual-mechanism account he supports predicts a crisp distinction; the empirical data instead suggest a fuzzy one, more in line with single-mechanism connectionist models.
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