Bi-directional growth of effortful control and respiratory sinus arrhythmia and their relation to adjustment in preschool age children
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This study sought to examine the co- development of effortful control and respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), and their role in emerging adjustment problems and social competence during preschool, a period of marked plasticity (both neural and behavioral) and rapid central nervous system development. Effortful control and RSA are indicators of cognitive and emotion regulation, respectively. Despite solid evidence that these components of self-regulation are interrelated, there is almost no research examining the co-development of effortful control and RSA in preschool-age children. Examining how individual differences in the development of effortful control predict changes in RSA, and vice versa, might clarify how particular deficits of attention, behavioral and/or emotional regulation develop. In this study, 167 preschool children (Time 1 M age = 36 mos) completed neuropsychological measures of effortful control, a delay task, and a baseline RSA task, across 3 times points, spaced 9 months apart. An autoregressive latent trajectory model (ALT) was examined to capture two forms of growth. Results indicated that a latent growth curve model best represented the linear changes in effortful control and RSA, whereas there was no support for bidirectional or time specific effects, as tested by an autoregressive latent trajectory model (ALT). In tests of bi-directional effects, children with the lowest levels of initial executive control had the highest rates of growth in RSA, which was contradictory to study hypotheses. This finding was likely the result of the relation between initial levels of effortful control and RSA, as children lower in effortful control also had lower initial RSA with more potential for growth in RSA over time. In addition, there were significant associations of delay ability and RSA with externalizing and anxiety problems, pointing to the need to study how self-regulation is associated with adjustment problems in community samples during the preschool period. Overall, this study depicts a complex picture of the development of self-regulation, in which different components of self-regulation relate to the development of the other.
- Psychology