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1.  Associations Between Temperament at Age 1.5 Years and Obesogenic Diet at Ages 3 and 7 Years 
Objective
To investigate whether temperament in 1.5-year-olds predicts their consumption of potentially obesogenic foods and drinks at ages 3 and 7 years.
Methods
Participants were 6 997 mothers and infants from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study. Questionnaires were collected during pregnancy, at birth, and at child ages 6 months and 1.5, 3, and 7 years. Predictor variables: children’s temperament at age 1.5 (internalizing, externalizing, surgent) and mothers’ negative affectivity. Outcome variables: children’s consumption of sweet foods, sweet drinks, and fruits/vegetables at ages 3 and 7 (dichotomized at the 85th percentile).
Results
Controlling for covariates, internalizing 1.5-year-olds (anxious, dependent) were 77% and 63% more likely to consume sweet drinks daily at ages 3 and 7, respectively; they were 55% and 43% more likely to consume sweet foods daily at ages 3 and 7, respectively. Externalizing 1.5-year-olds (hyperactive, aggressive) were 34% more likely to consume sweet drinks daily at age 7, 39% and 44% more likely to consume sweet foods daily at ages 3 and 7, respectively, and they were 47% and 33% less likely to consume fruits/vegetables daily at ages 3 and 7, respectively. Surgent 1.5-year-olds (active, sociable) were 197% and 78% more likely to consume two portions of fruits/vegetables daily at ages 3 and 7, respectively. The association of maternal negative affectivity was limited to the child’s consumption of sweet foods at 3 and 7 years.
Conclusion
Early child temperament is a risk factor for obesogenic diet in later childhood. Mechanisms explaining this association need to be explored.
doi:10.1097/DBP.0b013e31826bac0d
PMCID: PMC3492946  PMID: 23117597
child; temperament; obesity; diet; eating
2.  The Dopamine Receptor D4 Gene 7-Repeat Allele Interacts with Parenting Quality to Predict Effortful Control in Four-Year-Old Children 
Child development research  2012;2012:863242-.
The dopamine receptor D4 gene (DRD4) 7-repeat allele has been found to interact with environmental factors such as parenting in children and peer attitudes in adults to influence aspects of behavior such as risk taking. We previously found that in toddlers, lower-quality parenting in combination with the 7-repeat allele of the DRD4 gene was associated with greater parent-reported Sensation Seeking (SS), but was unrelated to Effortful Control (EC). We now report findings from a followup assessment with the same sample of children showing that parenting quality interacts with the presence of the 7-repeat allele to predict EC in 3-to 4-year-old children. The change in these patterns of results may reflect the increased role of the executive attention network in older children and adults. However, due to the small sample size (N = 52) and the novelty of the results, these findings should be treated with caution and considered preliminary until they are replicated in an independent sample.
doi:10.1155/2012/863242
PMCID: PMC3712539  PMID: 23869253
3.  Developing Mechanisms of Self-Regulation in Early Life 
Emotion review  2011;3(2):207-213.
Children show increasing control of emotions and behavior during their early years. Our studies suggest a shift in control from the brain's orienting network in infancy to the executive network by the age of 3–4 years. Our longitudinal study indicates that orienting influences both positive and negative affect, as measured by parent report in infancy. At 3–4 years of age, the dominant control of affect rests in a frontal brain network that involves the anterior cingulate gyrus. Connectivity of brain structures also changes from infancy to toddlerhood. Early connectivity of parietal and frontal areas is important in orienting; later connectivity involves midfrontal and anterior cingulate areas related to executive attention and self-regulation.
doi:10.1177/1754073910387943
PMCID: PMC3164871  PMID: 21892360
attention; connectivity; development; orienting
4.  Neural correlates of establishing, maintaining, and switching brain states 
Trends in cognitive sciences  2012;16(6):330-337.
Although the study of brain states is an old one in neuroscience, there has been growing interest in brain state specification owing to MRI studies tracing brain connectivity at rest. In this review, we summarize recent research on three relatively well-described brain states: the resting, alert, and meditation states. We explore the neural correlates of maintaining a state or switching between states, and argue that the anterior cingulate cortex and striatum play a critical role in state maintenance, whereas the insula has a major role in switching between states. Brain state may serve as a predictor of performance in a variety of perceptual, memory, and problem solving tasks. Thus, understanding brain states is critical for understanding human performance.
doi:10.1016/j.tics.2012.05.001
PMCID: PMC3419378  PMID: 22613871
5.  Control Networks and Neuromodulators of Early Development1 
Developmental Psychology  2011;48(3):827-835.
In adults most cognitive and emotional self-regulation is carried out by a network of brain regions, including the anterior cingulate, insula and areas of the basal ganglia, related to executive attention. We propose that during infancy control systems depend primarily upon a brain network involved in orienting to sensory events that includes areas of the parietal lobe and frontal eye fields. Studies of human adults and alert monkeys show that the brain network involved in orienting to sensory events is moderated primarily by the nicotinic cholinergic system arising in the nucleus basalis. The executive attention network is primarily moderated by dopaminergic input from the ventral tegmental area. A change from cholinergic to dopaminergic modulation would be a consequence of this switch of control networks and may be important in understanding early development. We trace the attentional, emotional and behavioral changes in early development related to this developmental change in regulative networks and their modulators.
doi:10.1037/a0025530
PMCID: PMC3253251  PMID: 21942663
6.  Toward A Physical Basis of Attention and Self Regulation1 
Physics of life reviews  2009;6(2):103-120.
The concept of self-regulation is central to the understanding of human development. Self-regulation allows effective socialization and predicts both psychological pathologies and levels of achievement in schools. What has been missing are neural mechanisms to provide understanding of the cellular and molecular basis for self-regulation. We show that self-regulation can be measured during childhood by parental reports and by self-reports of adolescents and adults. These reports are summarized by a higher order factor called effortful control, which reflects perceptions about the ability of a given person to regulate their behavior in accord with cultural norms. Throughout childhood effortful control is related to children’s performance in computerized conflict related tasks. Conflict tasks have been shown in neuroimaging studies to activate specific brain networks of executive attention. Several brain areas work together at rest and during cognitive tasks to regulate competing brain activity and thus control resulting behavior. The cellular structure of the anterior cingulate and insula contain cells, unique to humans and higher primates that provide strong links to remote brain areas. During conflict tasks, anterior cingulate activity is correlated with activity in remote sensory and emotional systems, depending upon the information selected for the task. During adolescence the structure and activity of the anterior cingulate has been found to be correlated with self-reports of effortful control.
Studies have provided a perspective on how genes and environment act to shape the executive attention network, providing a physical basis for self-regulation. The anterior cingulate is regulated by dopamine. Genes that influence dopamine levels in the CNS have been shown to influence the efficiency of self-regulation. For example, alleles of the COMT gene that influence the efficiency of dopamine transmission are related to the ability to resolve conflict. Humans with disorders involving deletion of this gene exhibit large deficits in self-regulation. Alleles of other genes influencing dopamine and serotonin transmission have also been found to influence ability to resolve conflict in cognitive tasks. However, as is the case for many genes, the effectiveness of COMT alleles in shaping self-regulation depends upon cultural influences such as parenting. Studies find that aspects of parenting quality and parent training can influence child behavior and the efficiency of self-regulation.
During development, the network that relates to self-regulation undergoes important changes in connectivity. Infants can use parts of the self-regulatory network to detect errors in sensory information, but the network does not yet have sufficient connectivity to organize brain activity in a coherent way. During middle childhood, along with increased projection cells involved in remote connections of dorsal anterior cingulate and prefrontal and parietal cortex, executive network connectivity increases and shifts from predominantly short to longer range connections. During this period specific exercises can influence network development and improve self-regulation. Understanding the physical basis of self-regulation has already cast light on individual differences in normal and pathological states and gives promise of allowing the design of methods to improve aspects of human development.
doi:10.1016/j.plrev.2009.02.001
PMCID: PMC2748943  PMID: 20161073
Attention; genetic alleles; neural networks; self-regulation
7.  Infant Temperament is Associated with Potentially Obesogenic Diet at 18 Months 
Objective
This study investigated whether infants’ temperament at 18 months is associated with the feeding of foods and drinks that may increase the risk for later obesity.
Methods
This was a cross-sectional study of mothers and infants (N = 40,266) participating in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. Data were collected by questionnaire. Predictor variables were: infants’ temperament at 18 months (internalizing, externalizing, and surgency/extraversion), and mothers’ negative affectivity. Outcomes variables were feeding of sweet foods, sweet drinks, and night-time caloric drinks at 18 months (all dichotomized). Confounders were child’s gender, weight-for-height at 18 months, breastfeeding, and mother’s level of education.
Results
After controlling for confounders, infant temperament dimensions at 18 months were significantly associated with mothers’ feeding of potentially obesogenic foods and drinks independent of mothers’ negative affectivity. Infants who were more internalizing were more likely to be given sweet foods (OR 1.47, CI 1.32–1.65), sweet drinks (OR 1.76, CI 1.56–1.98), and drinks at night (OR 2.91, CI 2.54–3.33); infants who were more externalizing were more likely to be given sweet food (OR 1.53, CI 1.40–1.67) and sweet drinks (OR 1.22, CI 1.11–1.34); and infants who were more surgent were more likely to be given drinks at night (OR1.66, CI 1.42–1.92).
Conclusions
The association between infant temperament and maternal feeding patterns suggests early mechanisms for later obesity that should be investigated in future studies.
doi:10.3109/17477166.2010.518240
PMCID: PMC3128685  PMID: 20854098
infant temperament; sweet foods; sweet drinks; night-time caloric drinks
8.  Brain states and hypnosis research✩,✩✩ 
Consciousness and cognition  2010;20(2):325-327.
Research in cognitive neuroscience now considers the state of the brain prior to the task an important aspect of performance. Hypnosis seems to alter the brain state in a way which allows external input to dominate over internal goals. We examine how normal development may illuminate the hypnotic state.
doi:10.1016/j.concog.2009.11.008
PMCID: PMC3164825  PMID: 20060745
9.  Variations in COMT Gene Interact With Parenting to Influence Attention in Early Development1 
Neuroscience  2009;164(1):121-130.
Attention influences many aspects of cognitive development. Variations in the COMT gene, known to affect dopamine neurotransmission, have frequently been found to influence attention in adults and older children. In this paper we examined 2 year old children and found that variation in the COMT gene influenced attention in a task involving looking to a sequence of visual stimuli. Because the influence of another dopamine related gene (DRD4) has been shown to interact with parenting quality at this age, we explored parenting in relation to variations in the COMT gene. Variations in COMT interacted with parenting quality to influence our attention measure. The Val108/158Met polymorphism of COMT is commonly used to determine allelic groups, but recently haplotypes of several polymorphisms within this gene have been shown to do a better job in reflecting perceived pain. Since attention and pain both involve the activation of the anterior cingulate gyrus in imaging studies, we compared the Val108/158Met influence with the COMT haplotypes and found the latter to be more predictive of attention. Our results confirm that important aspects of cognitive development including attention depend on the interaction of genes and early environment.
doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2009.05.059
PMCID: PMC2760680  PMID: 19482061
10.  A Two-Factor Model of Temperament 
The higher order structure of temperament was examined in two studies using the Adult Temperament Questionnaire. Because previous research showed robust levels of convergence between Rothbart’s constructs of temperament and the Big Five factors, we hypothesized a higher order two-factor model of temperament based on Digman’s higher order two-factor model of personality traits derived from factor analysis of the Big Five factors. Study 1 included 258 undergraduates. Digman’s model did not fit the data well, so we conducted an exploratory two-factor solution. One factor included extraversion/positive emotionality, orienting sensitivity, and affiliativeness, and the other, negative affect versus effortful control content. This two-factor model of temperament model diverged from the Digman model only on the agreeableness-affiliativeness loadings. Study 2 involved a community sample of 700 participants. Confirmatory factor analysis supported the alternative model found in Study 1. Findings are discussed in relation to research on attention and emotion.
doi:10.1016/j.paid.2009.05.010
PMCID: PMC2722842  PMID: 20161172
temperament; personality; Big Five
11.  Development of the time course for processing conflict: an event-related potentials study with 4 year olds and adults 
BMC Neuroscience  2004;5:39.
Background
Tasks involving conflict are widely used to study executive attention. In the flanker task, a target stimulus is surrounded by distracting information that can be congruent or incongruent with the correct response. Developmental differences in the time course of brain activations involved in conflict processing were examined for 22 four year old children and 18 adults. Subjects performed a child-friendly flanker task while their brain activity was registered using a high-density electroencephalography system.
Results
General differences were found in the amplitude and time course of event-related potentials (ERPs) between children and adults that are consistent with their differences in reaction time. In addition, the congruency of flankers affected both the amplitude and latency of some of the ERP components. These effects were delayed and sustained for longer periods of time in the children compared to the adults.
Conclusions
These differences constitute neural correlates of children's greater difficulty in monitoring and resolving conflict in this and similar tasks.
doi:10.1186/1471-2202-5-39
PMCID: PMC529252  PMID: 15500693

Results 1-11 (11)