This study examined the moderating effects of child temperament on the association between maternal socialization and 4–6-year-old children’s dynamic respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) change in response to anger-themed emotional materials (N = 180). We used latent growth curve modeling to explore adaptive patterns of dynamic RSA change in response to anger. Greater change in RSA during anger-induction, characterized by more initial RSA suppression and a subsequent return to baseline, was related to children’s better regulation of aggression. For anger-themed materials, low levels of authoritarian parenting predicted more RSA suppression and recovery for more anger-prone children, whereas more authoritative parenting predicted more RSA suppression and recovery for less anger-prone children. These findings suggest that children’s adaptive patterns of dynamic RSA change can be characterized by latent growth curve modeling, and that these patterns may be differentially shaped by parent socialization experiences as a function of child temperament.
Children; Respiratory sinus arrhythmia; Autonomic flexibility; Emotion regulation; Anger; Aggression; Differential susceptibility; Goodness-of-fit
Previous research has indicated that anxious individuals are more prone to evaluate ambiguous information as negative compared to non-anxious individuals. The feedback-related negativity (FRN) component of event-related brain potential (ERP) has been shown to be sensitive to outcome evaluation. The current ERP study aimed to test the hypothesis that the FRNs associated with ambiguous outcomes and negative outcomes are different between high trait-anxiety (HTA) and low trait-anxiety (LTA) individuals. The FRN was measured as a difference wave created across conditions. We found significantly different FRN responses between high-anxious and low-anxious participants in ambiguous outcome condition, as well as in negative outcome condition. Moreover, the HTA group’s FRN responses under the ambiguous outcome condition were larger than the negative outcome condition. Nevertheless, the FRN following neutral outcome did not show any difference between the two groups. The present results support the idea that there is link between individual differences in anxiety and ambiguous outcome evaluation, which possibly reflects the adaptive function of anxiety. Additionally, the results indicate that the mechanisms underlying the evaluation of neutral outcomes and ambiguous outcomes might be different from each other.
Anxiety; Decision-making; Outcome Evaluation; Feedback-Related Negativity (FRN); Ambiguous Outcome; Neutral Outcome; Guessing Activity
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with problems in intimate relationships, partly due to deficits in social cognition. In this study, the role of arginine vasopressin (AVP) in the link between PTSD and partner-specific social cognition was examined. Participants were 24 individuals from 12 heterosexual couples in which at least one partner exhibited clinically significant PTSD symptoms. Attention to partner expressions of anger was examined as an indicator of distress and need for affiliative behaviors to repair the relationship bond. AVP administration improved the speed of men’s attentional engagement with their partners’ expressions of anger and alleviated the negative impact of PTSD on this social cognitive process. Further, men’s morning urinary AVP levels were negatively correlated with their PTSD severity. No such effects were found among women or for attention to unfamiliar men’s or women’s anger expressions. Thus, the AVP system may function in the relationship problems associated with PTSD.
trauma; PTSD; social information processing; relationship satisfaction
Evidence suggests that respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) may be an important indicator of physiological flexibility. However, few studies have examined the relation between RSA and defensive habituation, a process contingent on physiological flexibility. In three independent samples, habituation was defined as the time course of 9 startle responses. In Sample one and two, startle was recorded (1) while shock electrodes were attached to participants’ and (2) before a threat-of-shock task. In Sample three, startle was recorded without these two components. In the first two samples, startle magnitude significantly decreased over time but in Sample three, startle only decreased at a trend level. Further, low RSA was associated with less of a reduction in startle magnitude over time within the first two samples, but was unrelated to startle reduction in the third. This suggests that low RSA is associated with less habituation to contextual anxiety, which may reflect difficulties regulating anxiety.
Respiratory sinus arrhythmia; Habituation; Startle
•Few studies have examined associations between laboratory and everyday cortisol.•Cortisol responses to laboratory stress were associated with cortisol AUCday.•This provides evidence of the ecological validity of laboratory stress testing.
Relationships between cortisol responses to laboratory stress and cortisol output over the day have not been studied extensively. We tested associations between cortisol responses to a set of laboratory challenges (colour/word interference and mirror tracing) and three aspects of cortisol output over the day, namely total area under the curve (AUCday), the cortisol awakening response (CAR) and the slope of cortisol decline over the day. Participants were 466 men and women aged 54–76 years. We found that cortisol responses to laboratory stress were positively associated with cortisol AUCday independently of sex, age, socioeconomic status, smoking, body mass index, and time of laboratory testing (B = 0.212, 95% C.I. 0.143–0.282, p < 0.001). No associations between laboratory responses and the CAR or cortisol slope were observed. The laboratory–field association was not moderated by demographic or psychosocial factors. The study provides evidence for the ecological validity of acute laboratory stress testing.
Stress reactivity; Laboratory–field; HPA axis; Cortisol
High cardiac vagal control (as measured by respiratory sinus arrhythmia; RSA) is associated with lower depression. Recent theories argue that people’s responsiveness to social resources is a key mechanism in this association. This argument implies two hypotheses: first, high RSA should be related to decreased depressive symptoms only when social resources (social support) are available; second, utilization of available social resources (social engagement) should serve as a mechanism for the positive effects of RSA. To test these hypotheses, we measured RSA in 131 adults. Participants reported their social support, social engagement, and depressive symptoms. Six months later, they again reported their depressive symptoms. Participants with higher RSA reported fewer depressive symptoms six months later, but only under conditions of high social support. The interaction between RSA and social support in predicting depressive symptoms was fully mediated by social engagement. These findings provide crucial support for the idea that cardiac vagal control contributes to decreased depressive symptoms via social processes. Implications for biological sensitivity to context and differential susceptibility theories as well as for the prevention and treatment of depression are discussed.
Heart rate variability; Major depressive disorder; Cardiac vagal control; Respiratory sinus arrhythmia; Social support; Social engagement; Person by environment interaction; Psychophysiology
We examined whether social drinkers whose drinking behavior poses a risk for harmful consequences exhibit altered psychobiological responses to stress following moderate alcohol intake. At risk (n = 17) and low risk drinkers (n = 27), as identified by the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test, completed two laboratory stress sessions, one in which they consumed a drink with alcohol and one without alcohol. Subjective and physiological measures were obtained throughout the study. Reported stimulation following alcohol consumption and sedation post-stress on alcohol day were greater than the no alcohol day in at risk drinkers (ps < .05). Low risk drinkers exhibited stress dampening effects on cortisol levels (p < .05). This was not the case among the high risk drinkers. These results indicate that acute alcohol intake may be associated with enhanced subjective and altered hormonal responses to stress in individuals who are at risk for becoming problem drinkers.
alcohol; cortisol; stress; AUDIT; substance use
While the personality trait of extraversion has been linked to enhanced reward sensitivity and its putative neural correlates, little is known about whether extraverts’ neural circuits are particularly sensitive to social rewards, given their preference for social engagement and social interactions. Using event-related potentials (ERPs), this study examined the relationship between the variation on the extraversion spectrum and a feedback-related ERP component (the error-related negativity or ERN) known to be sensitive to the value placed on errors and reward. Participants completed a forced-choice task, in which either rewarding or punitive feedback regarding their performance was provided, through either social (facial expressions) or non-social (verbal written) mode. The ERNs elicited by error trials in the social – but not in non-social – blocks were found to be associated with the extent of one’s extraversion. However, the directionality of the effect was in contrast with the original prediction: namely, extraverts exhibited smaller ERNs than introverts during social blocks, whereas all participants produced similar ERNs in the non-social, verbal feedback condition. This finding suggests that extraverts exhibit diminished engagement in response monitoring – or find errors to be less salient – in the context of social feedback, perhaps because they find social contexts more predictable and thus more pleasant and less anxiety provoking.
extraversion; event-related potentials; error-related negativity (ERN); reward; social
Cortisol responses are typically more pronounced under low controllability conditions, yet little is known about the role of individual differences. This study examined whether cortisol response to a situation with low controllability differs as a function of preexisting control beliefs and age. We manipulated level of controllability using a driving simulator. Control beliefs were assessed prior to the lab session. Salivary cortisol was measured before and after the driving simulation. Participants were 152 adults aged 22-84 from a Boston area sample. In comparison to the normal controllability condition, those in the low controllability condition reported less perceived control over driving, supporting the effectiveness of the manipulation. In the low controllability condition those with higher control beliefs showed a greater cortisol response than those with low control beliefs. Older adults showed a greater cortisol response than younger adults during the challenge. Implications of acute cortisol responses for performance outcomes are discussed.
Control beliefs; Situational controllability; Cortisol response; Age differences
Dysfunction of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis is believed to play a role in the pathophysiology of depression. To investigate mechanisms that may underlie this effect, we examined several indices of HPA axis function – specifically, diurnal cortisol slope, cortisol awakening response, and suppression of cortisol release following dexamethasone administration – in 26 pre-menopausal depressed women and 23 never depressed women who were matched for age and body mass index. Salivary cortisol samples were collected at waking, 30 min after waking, and at bedtime over three consecutive days. On the third day, immediately after the bedtime sample, participants ingested a 0.5 mg dexamethasone tablet; they then collected cortisol samples at waking and 30 min after waking the following morning. As predicted, depressed women exhibited flatter diurnal cortisol rhythms and more impaired suppression of cortisol following dexamethasone administration than non-depressed women over the three sampling days. In addition, flatter diurnal cortisol slopes were associated with reduced cortisol response to dexamethasone treatment, both for all women and for depressed women when considered separately. Finally, greater self-reported depression severity was associated with flatter diurnal cortisol slopes and with less dexamethasone-related cortisol suppression for depressed women. Depression in women thus appears to be characterized by altered HPA axis functioning, as indexed by flatter diurnal cortisol slopes and an associated impaired sensitivity of cortisol to dexamethasone. Given that altered HPA axis functioning has been implicated in several somatic conditions, the present findings may be relevant for understanding the pathophysiology of both depression and depression-related physical disease.
Stress; Depression; Diurnal cortisol slope; Cortisol awakening response; Dexamethasone suppression test; Inflammation; Health; Disease
To determine whether greater childhood adversity relates to younger menarcheal age;
whether younger menarcheal age relates to increased CVD risk; and whether greater childhood
adversity relates to increased CVD risk, directly or indirectly (mediated by menarcheal age).
Among 650 pre-menopausal women (ages 25-45; M=34.9[5.6]), SEM was performed to estimate
relations between childhood adversity, menarcheal age, and CVD risk.
Results supported a covariate-adjusted model (RMSEA=0.035; CFI=0.983) in which greater
childhood adversity was related to younger menarcheal age (β=−.13,
p<.01) and younger menarcheal age was related to greater CVD risk
(β=−.18, p<.05). Direct and indirect effects of childhood
adversity on CVD risk were non-significant. Re-evaluation of the same model with additional
covariate-adjustment for adulthood body composition showed the relation between menarcheal age and
CVD risk attenuated (β=−.03, p=.376).
Cross-sectional evidence suggests family-related adversity experiences in childhood
confer risk for earlier menarche which, in turn, relates to increased CVD risk in adulthood,
possibly via post-pubertal body size.
childhood adversity; puberty; pubertal timing; menarche; menarcheal age; cardiovascular risk
Alterations in the stress response and endogenous pain regulation mechanisms may contribute directly and indirectly to maintenance of nicotine dependence and relapse. We examined the extent to which nicotine dependence alters endogenous pain regulatory systems, including the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis, cardiovascular activity, and stress-induced analgesia. Smokers and nonsmokers attended a laboratory session that included assessment of hormonal and cardiovascular responses to stress. Smokers smoked at their regular rate prior to the session. The hand cold pressor and heat thermal pain tests were completed twice, once after acute stress (public speaking and math tasks) and the other after rest. While smokers and nonsmokers exhibited significant hormonal and cardiovascular responses to stress, smokers exhibited blunted stress responses relative to nonsmokers. They also exhibited diminished stress-induced analgesia. Results demonstrate altered stress response and diminished stress-induced analgesia among chronic smokers, and suggest that these dysregulated physiological responding may contribute to altered endogenous pain regulation.
Pain; Stress-induced analgesia; Tobacco dependence; Cardiovascular; Cortisol
TOMM40 SNP rs157580 has been associated with triglyceride levels in Genome-wide association studies (GWAS). Chronic caregiving stress moderates the association between triglyceride levels and a nearby SNP rs439401 that is associated with triglyceride levels in GWAS. Here, we report data from two independent Caucasian samples (242 U.S. women and men; 466 Danish men) testing the hypothesis that chronic family stress also moderates the association between rs157580 and triglyceride levels. The interaction of rs157580 and family stress in predicting triglyceride levels was statistically significant in the U.S. sample (p = 0.004) and marginally significant (p = 0.075) in the Danish sample. The G allele of rs157580 was associated with increased triglyceride levels among family stressed cases in both samples compared with A/A cases, but not among controls. Chronic family stress moderates the association of rs157580 variants with triglyceride levels and should be taken into account for disease risk assessment and potential intervention.
Altered attention to alcohol-related cues is implicated in the craving and relapse cycle characteristic of alcohol dependence (ALC). Prior cue reactivity studies typically invoke explicit attention to alcohol cues, so the neural response underlying incidental cue exposure remains unclear. Here, we embed infrequent, task-irrelevant alcohol and non-alcohol cues in an attention-demanding task, enabling evaluation of brain responses to distracting alcohol cues. Alcohol dependent individuals, across illness phase (n=44), and controls (n=20) performed a cue-reactivity fMRI target detection task. Significant Group-by-Distractor effects were observed in dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), inferior parietal lobule, and amygdala. Controls and long-term abstainers increased recruitment of attention and cognitive control regions, while recent and long-term abstainers decreased limbic recruitment to alcohol distractors. Across phases of ALC, self-reported craving positively correlated with cue-related activations in ventral ACC, medial prefrontal cortex, and cerebellum. Results indicate that brain responses elicited by incidental alcohol cues differentiate phases of ALC.
abstinence; alcoholism; amygdala; anterior cingulate; cognitive control; distraction; inferior parietal lobule
Using a picture perception task, here we investigate the relationship of early occipitotemporal and later centroparietal emotion-modulated event-related potentials (ERPs) in one sample to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) estimates of neural activity in another sample in a replicated experiment. Using this approach, we aimed to link effects found in time-resolved electrocortical measures to specific cerebral structures across individual emotional and nonemotional picture stimuli. The centroparietal late positive potential (LPP) showed covariation with emotion-modulated regions of hemodynamic activation across multiple dorsal and ventral visual cortical structures, while the early occipitotemporal potential was not reliably associated. Subcortical and corticolimbic structures involved in the perception of motivationally relevant stimuli also related to modulation of the LPP, and were modestly associated to the amplitude of the early occipitotemporal potential. These data suggest that early occipitotemporal potentials may reflect multiple sources of modulation including motivational relevance, and supports the perspective that the slow-wave LPP represents aggregate cortical and subcortical structures involved in emotional discrimination.
Emotion; attention; perception; fMRI; ERP
In order to more fully understand the abnormalities in emotional responding associated with adolescent depression we examined clinically depressed and non-depressed adolescents’ physiological responses to their parents’ negative emotional behavior, as indexed by their heart rate responses to parental angry and dysphoric behavior during laboratory-based interactions. Maternal angry and dysphoric behavior predicted heart rate deceleration amongst non-depressed adolescents, a response that was not observed in depressed adolescents. Fathers’ angry behavior predicted significant heart rate acceleration in depressed (but not non-depressed) adolescents, whereas fathers’ dysphoric behavior predicted heart rate deceleration amongst depressed but not amongst non-depressed adolescents. These findings are interpreted within the framework of orienting and defense cardiac responses, and suggest that reactivity in adolescent depression is characterized by the absence of a normative orienting response towards aversive maternal behaviors, and a defensive physiological response to aggressive paternal behavior.
Depression; Adolescence; Parent-child interactions; Psychophysiology; Behavioral observation
The present study is the first to assess whether the neural correlates of cognitive control processes differ in adults with and without a behaviorally inhibited temperament during early childhood. Adults with and without childhood behavioral inhibition completed an emotional conflict task while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging scanning. While no group differences in behavior were observed, adults with childhood behavioral inhibition, relative to adults without childhood behavioral inhibition, exhibited greater dorsomedial prefrontal cortex activity during conflict detection and greater putamen activity during conflict adaptation. Lifetime psychopathology predicted behavioral, but not brain-related, differences in conflict adaptation. These data suggest that the brain regions underlying cognitive control processes are differentially influenced by childhood behavioral inhibition, and may be differently related to psychopathology.
behavioral inhibition; conflict detection; conflict adaptation; emotion regulation; fMRI; development
This study investigated whether the mismatch negativity (MMN) event-related brain potential (ERP) could be evoked by purely top-down, attentional control. An infrequently occurring tone was designated as a target prior to presenting a randomized sequence of five equi-probably occurring tones. MMN elicitation to the tones categorized as “high”, “medium”, or “low” frequency, and designated as the target, would indicate that the change detection process can be driven solely by top-down control. However, MMNs were not elicited by the categorized tones. Only the N2b and P3b attention-driven target detection components were elicited. These results suggest that top-down factors alone cannot generate mismatch negativity. Standard formation by stimulus-driven factors is required.
Top-down control; Attention; Mismatch negativity (MMN); Categorization
Emotionally arousing material is typically better remembered than neutral material. Since norepinephrine and cortisol interact to modulate emotional memory, sex-related influences on stress responses may be related to sex differences in emotional memory. Two groups of healthy women – one naturally cycling (NC women, N = 42) and one using hormonal contraceptives (HC women, N = 36) – viewed emotionally arousing and neutral images. Immediately after, they were assigned to Cold Pressor Stress (CPS) or a control procedure. One week later, participants received a surprise free recall test. Saliva samples were collected and later assayed for salivary alpha-amylase (biomarker for norepinephrine) and cortisol. Compared to NC women, HC women exhibited significantly blunted stress hormone responses to the images and CPS. Recall of emotional images differed between HC and NC women depending on noradrenergic and cortisol responses. These findings may have important implications for understanding the neurobiology of emotional memory disorders, especially those that disproportionately affect women.
hormonal contraception; norepinephrine; cortisol; emotional memory; salivary alpha-amylase
Behavior genetic studies of brain activity associated with complex cognitive operations may further elucidate the genetic and physiological underpinnings of basic and complex neural processing. In the present project, monozygotic (N=51 pairs) and dizygotic (N=48 pairs) twins performed a visual oddball task with dense-array EEG. Using spatial PCA, two principal components each were retained for targets and standards; wavelets were used to obtain time-frequency maps of eigenvalue-weighted event-related oscillations for each individual. Distribution of inter-trial phase coherence (ITC) and single trial power (STP) over time indicated that the early principal component was primarily associated with ITC while the later component was associated with a mixture of ITC and STP. Spatial PCA on point-by-point broad sense heritability matrices revealed data-derived frequency bands similar to those well established in EEG literature. Biometric models of eigenvalue-weighted time-frequency data suggest a link between physiology of oscillatory brain activity and patterns of genetic influence.
visual oddball; spatial PCA; time-frequency EEG; twin study
This study examined biological (testosterone) and social (deviant peer affiliation) factors early in treatment as predictors of treatment outcome among adolescent boys receiving Multisystemic Therapy (MST) in community settings. Outcome variables included changes in youth aggression and delinquency as reported by the primary caregiver. Testosterone and deviant peer affiliation were assessed at treatment onset; and outcome variables (aggression and delinquency) were assessed at treatment onset, mid-treatment and end-of-treatment. Participants were 112 adolescent boys (M age = 15.42, SD = 1.31) and their caregivers. Growth curve analyses revealed that the combination of high testosterone and high deviant peer affiliation early in treatment were significantly associated with less of a decline in aggression and delinquency over the course of treatment. Results provide novel evidence for the role of testosterone in the prediction of future externalizing behaviors. Clinical and theoretical implications are discussed.
testosterone; aggression; MST; deviant peers; treatment outcome
A differential fear conditioning paradigm was used with 107 healthy undergraduate participants to evaluate the effect of conditioned stimulus (CS) temporal properties on fear acquisition and extinction. Two minute duration CSs were used for Day 1 fear acquisition. Participants were randomized to receive either 1, 2, or 4 minute CS durations during Day 2 extinction. Extinction re-test was examined on Day 3 using the original acquisition CS duration (2 minutes). Findings indicated that participants who were aware of the CS+/unconditioned stimulus (US) contingency (n=52) develop a temporal expectation about when the unconditioned stimulus will be delivered. Although the shorter duration CS resulted in greater fear reduction during extinction, cessation of fear responding at re-test was the same for CS extinction durations ranging from half the CS acquisition duration to twice the CS acquisition duration. Thus, extinction performance did not predict extinction at re-test, which could have important implications for optimizing exposure therapy for anxiety disorders.
fear conditioning; anxiety; psychophysiology; temporal conditioning; stimulus duration
Sleep timing shifts later during adolescence, thus conflicting with early school start times. This can lead to irregular weekday-weekend schedules and circadian misalignment, which have been linked to depression and substance abuse, consistent with disruptions in the processing of rewards. We tested associations between weekend-weekday shifts in sleep timing and the neural response to monetary reward in healthy adolescents, using actigraphy and a functional magnetic resonance imaging paradigm. Region-of-interest analyses focused on the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and striatum, both of which are implicated in reward function. Analyses adjusted for pubertal stage, sex, and total sleep time. Greater weekend-weekday advances in midsleep were associated with decreased mPFC and striatal reactivity to reward, which could reflect reduced regulatory response and reward sensitivity. We speculate that circadian misalignment associated with weekend shifts in sleep timing may contribute to reward-related problems such as depression and substance abuse.
Sleep timing; adolescence; reward; medial prefrontal cortex; striatum; fMRI
•We improve predictive validity of a general linear convolution method to analyse evoked SCR.•A constrained individual response function provides highest predictive validity.•This IRF is realised by a canonical SCRF together with its time derivative.•A high pass filter of 0.05 Hz cut-off frequency is optimal for analysis.•Non-linear models better reconstruct the observed time-series but have lower predictive validity.
Model-based analysis of psychophysiological signals is more robust to noise – compared to standard approaches – and may furnish better predictors of psychological state, given a physiological signal. We have previously established the improved predictive validity of model-based analysis of evoked skin conductance responses to brief stimuli, relative to standard approaches. Here, we consider some technical aspects of the underlying generative model and demonstrate further improvements. Most importantly, harvesting between-subject variability in response shape can improve predictive validity, but only under constraints on plausible response forms. A further improvement is achieved by conditioning the physiological signal with high pass filtering. A general conclusion is that precise modelling of physiological time series does not markedly increase predictive validity; instead, it appears that a more constrained model and optimised data features provide better results, probably through a suppression of physiological fluctuation that is not caused by the experiment.
Skin conductance responses (SCR); Galvanic skin response (GSR); Electrodermal activity (EDA); General linear convolution model (GLM); Generative model; Model inversion
The neuropeptide vasopressin has traditionally been associated with vasoconstriction and water reabsorption by the kidneys. However, data from experimental animal studies also implicate vasopressin in social bonding processes. Preliminary work suggests that vasopressin also plays a role in social behaviors in humans. The goal of this cross-sectional study was to evaluate associations among plasma vasopressin and self-reported interpersonal functioning in a sample of married couples. During a 24-hour admission to a hospital-based research unit, 37 couples completed measures of interpersonal functioning and provided blood samples for neuropeptide analyses. Results showed that vasopressin was associated with markers of interpersonal functioning, but not with general psychological distress. Specifically, greater plasma vasopressin levels were related to a larger social network, fewer negative marital interactions, less attachment avoidance, more attachment security, and marginally greater spousal social support. These results indicate that vasopressin is likely implicated in different relationship maintenance processes in humans.
vasopressin; social functioning; couples; social support; marital quality