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05-01-2019 | Uitgave 6/2019

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 6/2019

The Presence of a Controlling Parent Is Related to an Increase in the Error-Related Negativity in 5–7 Year-Old Children

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology > Uitgave 6/2019
Auteurs:
Alexandria Meyer, Corinne Carlton, Lyndsey Juliane Chong, Karl Wissemann
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Abstract

Anxiety disorders often begin early in life and there is substantial interest in identifying neural markers that characterize developmental trajectories that result in anxiety. The error-related negativity (ERN) is elicited when people make errors on lab-based reaction-time tasks, is increased in anxious children, and can predict the onset of anxiety across development. In light of this, there is an increasing interest in identifying environmental factors that may shape the ERN in children. Previous work suggests that controlling parenting styles may relate to the ERN in offspring. However, no study had yet examined the specific mechanism whereby parenting style may impact the ERN in children. We propose that it may be children’s repeated exposure to making mistakes in the context of their parents’ reactions (i.e., verbal or non-verbal reactions, displays of parental control, etc.) that may lead to an increased ERN. We test this novel hypothesis by measuring the ERN in 94 children between the ages of 5–7 years old, while their parent observes them and then while an experimenter observes them complete a Go-No/Go task. Results suggest that the presence of parents characterized by high control potentiates the ERN in their children. Moreover, the relationship between controlling parenting styles and child anxiety disorder status was mediated by the parent presence potentiation of the ERN. These findings are important and novel insofar as they highlight the impact of an environmental factor (i.e., parenting) in shaping a neural marker of risk for anxiety in children (i.e., the ERN).

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