Child Development Perspectives

Published by Wiley
Online ISSN: 1750-8606
Publications
Article
The nativist-empiricist debate and the nativist commitment to the idea of core knowledge and endowments that exist without relevant postnatal experience continue to distract attention from the reality of developmental systems. The developmental systems approach embraces the concept of epigenesis, that is, the view that development emerges via cascades of interactions across multiple levels of causation, from genes to environments. This view is rooted in a broader interpretation of experience and an appreciation for the nonobvious nature of development. We illustrate this systems approach with examples from studies of imprinting, spatial cognition, and language development, revealing the inadequacies of the nativist-empiricist debate and the inconvenient truths of development. Developmental scientists should no longer abide the nativist-empiricist debate and nativists' ungrounded focus on origins. Rather, the future lies in grounding our science in contemporary theory and developmental process.
 
Article
Although substance use disorders are heritable, their complexity has made identifying genes underlying their development challenging. Endophenotypes, biologically informed quantitative measures that index genetic risk for a disorder, are being recognized for their potential to assist the search for disorder relevant genes. After outlining criteria for an endophenotype that includes developmental considerations, we review how the brain P300 response serves as an index of genetic risk for substance abuse and related externalizing disorders. The P300 response is highly heritable and associated broadly with characteristics of externalizing disorder, including childhood disruptive disorders, antisociality, and precocious expression of deviant behavior. This association appears to be mediated by shared genetic influences. Prospective studies confirm that reduced P300 amplitude present in youth prior to significant exposure to addictive substances is associated with the subsequent development of substance use disorders. Despite pronounced change in mean level over the course of development, P300 amplitude shows strong rank order stability with repeated assessment through young adulthood. In addition, P300 developmental trajectories based on multiple assessments show very high heritability and may be especially informative as measures of genetic risk. Collectively, these findings provide strong support that P300 amplitude and its change through development reflect genetic vulnerability to substance abuse and related externalizing psychopathology.
 
Article
Accessibility to prevention and remediation programs is critical for today's children who face a broad range of adversities placing them at risk for emotional and academic problems. This introduction briefly summarizes the articles in the Special Section, which provide an overview of different interventions aimed at preventing or ameliorating various youths' emotional and behavioral problems. The Special Section concludes with an article and related commentary pertaining to school-related functioning.
 
Article
Few studies include associations of emotions, or of individual differences in emotionality, to academic competence, and there are virtually no empirical data on when or why relations exist (or do not exist). The few studies of emotion and achievement have largely focused on anxiety, but there has been scant theoretical and empirical attention devoted to the treatment of other emotions. It is suggested that considering the moderated and indirect effects of students' emotions on their academic functioning may provide an understanding of whether and under what circumstances emotions are related to achievement. This article briefly reviews findings linking situational and dispositional negative or positive emotions to academic achievement and suggests that researchers can learn much about relations between emotions and achievement by considering the potential moderating role of effortful control, as well as considering the mediating roles that cognitive processes, motivational mechanisms, and classroom relationships play in linking emotions and achievement.
 
A three-tier model for increasingly intense academic and behavioral interventions. The percentages represent estimates of the number of children who are at grade level (Tier 1) and who require Tier 2 and Tier 3 services. Source. From National Association of State Directors of Special Education (2006). Copyright 2006 by the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, Inc. Reprinted with permission. 
A comparison of a traditional eligibility process and a process incorporating response to instruction (RTI) in a three-tier model. On the left side, the student is referred for an eligibility evaluation. The student is either eligible or not eligible; if eligible, the student receives intervention that is evaluated for 1-3 years. In an RTI model, all students are screened and those at-risk receive progress monitoring and intervention in the general education classroom. If the response to different interventions is not sufficient to meet progress-monitoring benchmarks, increasingly intense interventions are provided. If inadequate instructional response continues, the student may be referred for an eligibility evaluation, which would be different because the student was identified as at-risk earlier and the availability of data on instructional response to influence the type of evaluation that is conducted. Source. From Fletcher et al. (2007). Copyright 2007 by Guilford Press. Reprinted with permission.
Article
We address the advantages and challenges of service delivery models based on student response to intervention (RTI) for preventing and remediating academic difficulties and as data sources for identification for special education services. The primary goal of RTI models is improved academic and behavioral outcomes for all students. We review evidence for the processes underlying RTI, including screening and progress monitoring assessments, evidence-based interventions, and schoolwide coordination of multitiered instruction. We also discuss the secondary goal of RTI, which is to provide data for identification of learning disabilities (LDs). Incorporating instructional response into identification represents a controversial shift away from discrepancies in cognitive skills that have traditionally been a primary basis for LD identification. RTI processes potentially integrate general and special education and suggest new directions for research and public policy related to LDs, but the scaling issues in schools are significant and more research is needed on the use of RTI data for identification.
 
Article
Charting change in behavior as a function of age and investigating longitudinal relations among constructs are primary goals of developmental research. Traditionally, researchers rely on a single measure (e.g., scale score) for a given construct for each person at each occasion of measurement, assuming that measure reflects the same construct at each occasion. With multiple indicators of a latent construct at each time of measurement, the researcher can evaluate whether factorial invariance holds. If factorial invariance constraints are satisfied, latent variable scores at each time of measurement are on the same metric and stronger conclusions are warranted. In this paper we discuss factorial invariance in longitudinal studies, contrasting analytic approaches and highlighting strengths of the multiple-indicator approach to modeling developmental processes.
 
Article
Children with specific language impairment (SLI) have a significant and longstanding deficit in spoken language ability that adversely affects their social and academic well-being. Studies of children with SLI in a wide variety of languages reveal diverse symptoms, most of which seem to reflect weaknesses in grammatical computation and phonological short-term memory. The symptoms of the disorder are sensitive to the type of language being acquired, with extraordinary weaknesses seen in those areas of language that are relatively challenging for younger typically developing children. Although these children's deficits warrant clinical and educational attention, their weaknesses might reflect the extreme end of a language aptitude continuum rather than a distinct, separable condition.
 
An emotion-based preventive intervention increased children’s emotion knowledge, which in turn mediated an increase in emotion regulation.Emotion competence (an aggregate index of emotion regulation and emotion knowledge) mediated an increase in social competence reflecting increased emotion utilization (Izard, et al., 2008).
Article
Recent research indicates that emotionality, emotion information processing, emotion knowledge, and discrete emotion experiences may influence and interact with emotion utilization, that is, the effective use of the inherently adaptive and motivational functions of emotions. Strategies individuals learn for emotion modulation and emotion utilization become stabilized in emerging affective-cognitive structures, or emotion schemas. In these emotion schemas, the feeling/motivational component of emotion and perceptual and cognitive processes interact dynamically and continually. The concepts and techniques that promote emotion knowledge, emotion regulation, and emotion utilization have proved effective in promoting favorable behavioral outcomes in both emotion-based and cognitive-behavioral interventions. In this paper, we suggest that current conceptualizations of emotion regulation need to be extended to take these interactions into account.
 
Article
In this article, we address how and why parent-child attachment is related to anxiety in children. Children who do not form secure attachments to caregivers risk developing anxiety or other internalizing problems. While meta-analyses yield different findings regarding which insecurely attached children are at greatest risk, our recent studies suggest that disorganized children may be most at risk. Insecure attachment itself may contribute to anxiety, but insecurely attached children also are more likely to have difficulties regulating emotions and interacting competently with peers, which may further contribute to anxiety. Clinical disorders occur primarily when insecure attachment combines with other risk factors. In this article, we present a model of factors related to developing anxiety.
 
Article
Resilience theory provides a framework for studying and understanding how some youths overcome risk exposure and guides the development of interventions for prevention using a strengths-based approach. In this article, we describe basic concepts of the theory, such as promotive factors, and distinguish assets and resources that help youths overcome the negative effects of risk exposure. We also present three models of resilience theory-compensatory, protective, and challenge-and review empirical research on three promotive factors-ethnic identity, social support, and prosocial involvement-that include individual, family, and community levels of analysis and have modifiable qualities for informing interventions. Finally, we present examples of how research findings from the three promotive factors can be translated into interventions to enhance youth development.
 
Article
The transition to adolescence is characterized by rapid biological transformations that include not only the hormonal and physiological changes of puberty but also dramatic changes in the brain as well. Similar neural and physiological changes are associated with the transition from immaturity to maturity across a variety of mammalian species, along with a variety of common adolescent-typical behavioral characteristics. Among the neural systems undergoing alterations during adolescence are those that modulate sensitivity to a variety of alcohol effects, potentially increasing the propensity for relatively high levels of adolescent alcohol use, which in turn may set the stage for later alcohol use disorders. This article reviews research on adolescent alcohol sensitivities and suggests possible implications of these findings for the frequent initiation and relatively high levels of alcohol intake seen at this age.
 
Article
It can be argued that adolescents' decision making is biased more by motivational factors than by cognitively driven calculations of outcome probabilities. Brain-based models, derived from structural and functional neuroimaging perspectives to account for this bias, have focused on purported differences in rates of development of motivational and regulatory-control systems. This article proposes a neurochemically based framework for understanding adolescents' behavioral biases_and suggests that there should be an increased focus on the dopaminergic substrates of incentive motivation, which increases into adolescence and decreases thereafter. The article also discusses the manner in which this increase interacts with executive control systems in affecting self-regulation.
 
Article
This article provides an overview of existing research on the prevalence and predictors of adolescent self-care and on the consequences associated with it. Self-care, in which the young are left unsupervised during out-of-school hours, is a common experience for millions of American youth, and existing studies suggest that this arrangement may represent a risk for the development of behavior problems. However, the behavior problems associated with self-care depend on both individual and environmental factors and are most likely to develop when self-care (1) occurs out of the home, (2) involves permissive parenting and/or low parental monitoring, (3) takes place in neighborhoods with high levels of crime and disorganization, (4) involves adolescents with preexisting behavioral problems, and (5) represents an intensive and persistent arrangement. Following our survey of current research on self-care, we offer recommendations regarding future research and policy.
 
Article
A mother's mental illness may have a profound effect on her child's development, including an increased risk of the child developing the same disorder. From a developmental psychopathology perspective, offspring provide an opportunity to examine pathways to disorder versus resilience. Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a severe disorder diagnosed in early adulthood involving stormy relationships, an unstable sense of identity, and self-destructive behavior. Interestingly, the domains of dysfunction are conceptually similar to developmental tasks in early childhood reworked in adolescence: attachment, self development, and self-regulation. Early deviation may increase the risk for later disorder. There are five empirical studies of children whose mothers have BPD, two conducted from a developmental perspective. This article proposes a theoretical framework and an innovative methodology with which to extend this research, and suggests an intervention to bring development back on track if necessary.
 
Article
Hispanic adolescents represent a growing segment of the U.S. population. In addition to the typical stressors encountered during adolescence, Hispanic adolescents may experience acculturative stress, perceived discrimination, and conflicts with parents about acculturation, which can lead to maladaptive behaviors such as substance use. Personal cultural resources may help Hispanic youth cope with cultural stressors and avoid substance use, but little is known about how such factors affect decisions about substance use. In 2005, my research group began studying a group of Hispanic adolescents in Los Angeles. The participants completed surveys annually about cultural issues such as acculturation, ethnic identity, and perceived discrimination; family and peer relationships; and use of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana. We found that Hispanic adolescents' perceptions that they were discriminated against put them at greater risk for substance use, and that Hispanic orientation protected the youth from substance use. The findings can inform the development of culturally relevant prevention interventions for Hispanic adolescents and emerging adults.
 
Article
This article reviews empirical evidence for the efficacy of psychosocial interventions for school refusal behavior. Data corresponding to eight experimental single-case and seven group-design studies are presented. Across studies, behavioral and cognitive-behavioral treatments emerged as promising lines of intervention. These interventions produced improvements in school attendance and youths'symptom levels (e.g., anxiety, fear, depression, anger) based on this study's examination of effect sizes. The article concludes with suggestions for interventionists, researchers, and policymakers attempting to deal with the problem of school refusal.
 
Article
A growing number of adoptive families have contact with their children's birth relatives. The Minnesota Texas Adoption Research Project is examining longitudinally the consequences of variations in contact arrangements for birth mothers, adoptive parents, and adopted children in domestic infant adoptions, and is studying the dynamics of relationships within these family systems. Individuals who had contact were more satisfied with their arrangements than those who did not have contact. Satisfaction with contact predicted more optimal adjustment among adopted adolescents and emerging adults. Adoption-related communication predicted identity development among adopted adolescents and emerging adults. Birth mothers who were more satisfied with their contact arrangements, regardless of level of contact, had less unresolved grief 12 to 20 years after placement. Adoptive and birth relatives who engage in contact need flexibility, strong interpersonal skills, and commitment to the relationship. These skills can be learned, and they can be supported by others, through informal, psychoeducational, and therapeutic means.
 
Article
Recent research has shed new light on individual development during the early adulthood years, yet few investigators have examined sibling relationships during this stage of life. These relationships undergo transformations as individuals enter adult roles and orient their lives towards friends and romantic partners and establish independence from parents and siblings. This review examines major life events and role transitions such as leaving home, completing school, obtaining employment, getting married, and having children that influence individuals and their sibling relationships. In addition, the review considers how sibling relationships may affect individuals during the transition to adulthood, and considers the context of family and culture. The article concludes with suggestions for future research on sibling relationships during early adulthood and beyond.
 
Article
We offer a theory of marginal deviations that articulates the processes through which initial behavior that is only slightly deviant from the norm gets transformed into more serious antisocial outcomes. We present evidence that, of the one third of the population that is marginally deviant, about one fourth (or 8% of the total population) becomes seriously deviant over time. Hypothesized factors in this transformation involve the child actor, peer observer-judges, and social transactions between them in processes that derive from self-fulfilling prophecies and dynamic systems theory. Hypotheses and studies are proposed to address the circumstances and processes that determine whether a marginal deviation will be bought back to the norm (through assimilation and attenuation) or accelerated to severe deviance (through accommodation and amplification).
 
Article
Neoconstructivism is a new approach in developmental science that sheds light on the processes underlying change over time. The present commentary evaluates this new approach in the context of existing theories of development and nine central tenets of neoconstructivism proposed by Newcombe (2011). For inspiration, Hull's evaluation of psychological theory in 1935 is discussed. Hull noted a proliferation of theories that he attributed to poorly specified concepts and a lack of rigorous theoretical work. Noting a similar proliferation of "isms" in developmental science, the commentary concludes that existing theories have much to offer and suggests that what is needed is not a new "ism" but a rigorous evaluation and integration of modern developmental concepts.
 
Article
Maladaptive emotional reactions are common among individuals diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and often impair functioning. Most research on emotional processes in ASD has focused on the recognition of emotion in others. This article argues for a broader approach to affective research in ASD, one that includes investigations into emotional reactivity and regulation. For example, research has typically looked at perseveration in ASD from a cognitive or perceptual perspective, yet perseveration also appears to have emotional aspects. This article discusses examples of emotion regulation research in other populations to illustrate how this approach could inform understanding of perseveration in ASD, particularly related to affective interference with cognitive control. More broadly, it highlights the potential contributions of emotion regulation research in ASD in relation to improving treatment specificity, increasing understanding of individual differences and diagnostic conceptualizations, and, potentially, contributing to a deeper understanding the neurobehavioral underpinnings of ASD.
 
Article
Face perception remains one of the most intensively researched areas in psychology and allied disciplines, and there has been much debate regarding the early origins and experiential determinants of face processing. This article reviews studies, the majority of which have appeared in the past decade, that discuss possible mechanisms underlying face perception at birth and document the prominent role of experience in shaping infants' face-processing abilities. In the first months of life, infants develop a preference for female and own-race faces and become better able to recognize and categorize own-race and own-species faces. This perceptual narrowing and shaping of the "face space" forms a foundation for later face expertise in childhood and adulthood and testifies to the remarkable plasticity of the developing visual system.
 
Article
Digital games combining exercise with game play, known as exergames, can improve youths' health status and provide social and academic benefits. Exergame play increases caloric expenditure, heart rate, and coordination. Psychosocial and cognitive impacts of exergame play may include increased self-esteem, social interaction, motivation, attention, and visual-spatial skills. This article summarizes the literature on exergames, with a special emphasis on physical education courses and the potential of exergames to improve students' physical health, as well as transfer effects that may benefit related physical, social, and academic outcomes.
 
Article
In response to the commentaries on our paper (Spencer et al., 2009) we summarize what a developmental systems perspective offers for a twenty-first century science of development by highlighting five insights from developmental systems theory. Where applicable, the discussion is grounded in a particular example-the emergence of ocular dominance columns in early development. Ocular dominance columns are a paragon of epigenesis and are inconsistent with the nativist view. We conclude with optimism that developmental science can move beyond the nativist-empiricist debate armed with both modern technological tools and strong theory to guide their use.
 
Article
Children raised in poverty are prone to physical health problems late in life. To understand these findings and address the scientific challenge they represent, we must formulate integrative conceptual frameworks at the crossroads of behavioral and biomedical science, with a strong developmental emphasis. In this article, we outline such a framework and discuss research bearing on its validity. We address how childhood poverty gets under the skin, at the level of tissues and organs, in a manner that affects later disease risks. We also tackle questions about resilience; Even with lengthy exposure to childhood poverty, why do only a subset of people acquire diseases? Why are some individuals protected while others remain vulnerable? Maternal nurturance might be a source of resilience, buffering children from the long-term health consequences of poverty. We conclude with research priorities.
 
Article
There is a gap between scientific knowledge about typical and atypical emotional development and efforts to identify and serve children's mental health needs. The gap can be bridged with research that integrates clinical perspectives into the study of emotional development. We illustrate this by discussing typical emotional development in early childhood and how it differs from the atypical features of emotion seen among preschool-age children with depression. We suggest new research directions that integrate the study of typical emotional development with clinical evidence of risk for and presence of affective disorders in young children.
 
Article
Young children involved in the child welfare system are susceptible to behavioral and physiological dysregulation. These children need nurturing care to develop organized attachments to caregivers; they need synchronous care to support their physiological and behavioral regulation; and they need stable caregivers who can commit to them, supporting their sense of self and behavioral regulation. Without intervention at the level of the parent and the system, most children involved with the child welfare system are unlikely to have these needs met. We present two models of intervention designed to enhance parents' synchrony and nurturance, and highlight aspects of the system that can enhance the stability and commitment of caregivers.
 
Article
Grolnick and Pomerantz (this issue) take on the difficult challenge of rethinking how investigators might use the concept of parental control in the study of child and adolescent development. They note that previous conceptual and empirical work has employed a wide variety of definitions of parental control and argue that this broad range of approaches has created problems for the field. For example, they cite Rollins and Thomas (1979), who identified more than 15 different labels for the construct. This multiplicity of definitions, the authors suggest, has led to ambiguity in the interpretation of research findings. In particular, Grolnick and Pomerantz propose that the multiple-forms approach to defining parental control is so fraught with problems that scholars should replace it with another strategy for describing and measuring control and related constructs. They then suggest a new approach that they believe will solve the problem and also increase the theoretical value of research on these types of parenting behaviors. In this commentary, I first discuss their critique of the multiple-forms approach and then analyze their proposed solution to the conceptual difficulties they describe.
 
Article
This Special Section of Child Development Perspectives highlights the contributions of developmental science to the study of substance use and disorder. It focuses on the specific question of how genetic, biological, and environmental factors vary in the way they interactively predict substance use and disorder over the course of development. The first three articles outline answers to this question that are emerging from the study of substance use disorder and contributing contexts, particularly the work on the externalizing or behavioral-undercontrol risk pathway to substance use disorder. The markers of risk and contextual variation are further integrated in the final contribution, which evaluates current evidence for this pathway to substance use disorder.
 
Article
Spanking remains a common, if controversial, childrearing practice in the United States. In this article, I pair mounting research indicating that spanking is both ineffective and harmful with professional and human rights opinions disavowing the practice. I conclude that spanking is a form of violence against children that should no longer be a part of American childrearing.
 
Article
The gestures children use when they talk often reveal knowledge that they do not express in speech. Gesture is particularly likely to reveal these unspoken thoughts when children are on the verge of learning a new task. It thus reflects knowledge in child learners. But gesture can also play a role in changing the child's knowledge, indirectly through its effects on the child's communicative environment and directly through its effects on the child's cognitive state. Because gesture reflects thought and is an early marker of change, it may be possible to use it diagnostically. Gesture (or its lack) may be the first sign of future developmental difficulty. And because gesture can change thought, it may prove to be useful in the home, the classroom, and the clinic as a way to alter the pace, and perhaps the course, of learning and development.
 
Article
We describe important elements in the process of engagement with tribal communities in research with children and youth and their families. We believe it helpful to understand the research relationship with tribal communities through the lens of kinship relations. This calls for re-examination of the nature of research and researcher, with important implications for the research process, design and organization, recovery from errors, and dissemination of results. Implications include a re-examination of some of our canons of research methods and research ethics, along with a willingness to address new challenges, to share control of the research process, and to be open to new conceptual perspectives, including alternative research strategies. Its repercussions hold promise for a deepening of the research relationship, and the role of researcher in the community.
 
Article
Lying is common among adults and a more complex issue in children. In this article, I review two decades of empirical evidence about lying in children from the perspective of speech act theory. Children begin to tell lies in the preschool years for anti- and prosocial purposes, and their tendency to lie changes as a function of age and the type of lies being told. In addition, children's ability to tell convincing lies improves with age. In the article, I highlight the central roles that children's understanding of mental states and social conventions play in the development of lying. I also identify areas for research to be done to develop a more comprehensive picture of the typical and atypical developmental courses of verbal deception in children.
 
Article
This article reviews the major contributions of dynamic systems theory in advancing thinking about development, the empirical insights the theory has generated, and the key challenges for the theory on the horizon. The first section discusses the emergence of dynamic systems theory in developmental science, the core concepts of the theory, and the resonance it has with other approaches that adopt a systems metatheory. The second section reviews the work of Esther Thelen and colleagues, who revolutionized how researchers think about the field of motor development. It also reviews recent extensions of this work to the domain of cognitive development. Here, the focus is on dynamic field theory, a formal, neurally grounded approach that has yielded novel insights into the embodied nature of cognition. The final section proposes that the key challenge on the horizon is to formally specify how interactions among multiple levels of analysis interact across multiple time scales to create developmental change.
 
Article
All sciences use models of some variety to understand complex phenomena. In developmental science, however, modeling is mostly limited to linear, algebraic descriptions of behavioral data. Some researchers have suggested that complex mathematical models of developmental phenomena are a viable (even necessary) tool that provide fertile ground for developing and testing theory as well as for generating new hypotheses and predictions. This paper explores the concerns, attitudes, and historical trends that underlie the tension between two cultures: one in which computational simulations of behavior are an important complement to observation and experimentation, and another which emphasizes evidence from behavioral experiments and linear models enhanced by verbal descriptions. This tension is explored as a dialogue between three characters: Ed (Experimental Developmentalist), Mira (Modeling Inclusive Research Advocate), and Phil (Philosopher of Science).
 
Article
So important is the perspective of development for understanding psychopathology that it spawned a new discipline-"developmental psychopathology"-which has seen remarkable advances since its introduction,, but has yet to completely fulfill its promise. To do this requires maintaining a thoroughgoing developmental perspective. When we take development seriously, there are implications for how we understand psychopathology, describe and conceptualize the origins and course of disorder, and interpret research findings. From this perspective, disorders are complex products of development; for example, we can view neurophysiological associates of disorder not as causes but as markers, the development of which we need to understand. Research on developmental psychopathology requires an examination of the history of problem behavior from early in life, and it unites multiple features of adaptation and maladaptation (contextual, experiential, physiological, and genetic).
 
Article
Counterfactual reasoning (CFR)-mentally representing what the world would be like now if things had been different in the past-is an important aspect of human cognition and the focus of research in areas such as philosophy, social psychology, and clinical psychology. More recently, it has also gained broad interest in cognitive developmental psychology, mainly focusing on the question of how this kind of reasoning can be characterized. Studies have been inconsistent in identifying when children can use CFR. In this article, we present theoretical positions that may account for this inconsistency and evaluate them in the light of research on counterfactual emotions.
 
Article
This article considers the effects of psychosocial stress on child development and describes mechanisms through which early stress in the context of poverty affects the functioning of neural networks that underlie executive functions and self-regulation. It examines the effects of early experience on glucocorticoid and catecholamine levels that influence neural activity in areas of the brain associated with executive functions, primarily as studied in animal models. Finally, it considers the strengths and limitations of this research, its relevance to understanding stress reactivity from the perspective of biological sensitivity to context, and the implications for the study of risk and resilience processes and early intervention to prevent developmental delays.
 
Article
In describing the impact of an intervention, a single effect size, odds ratio, or other summary measure is often employed. This single measure is useful in calibrating the effect of one intervention against others, but it is less meaningful when the intervention displays variation in impact. A single intervention trial can show differential effects when subgroups respond differentially, when impact varies by environmental context, or when there is varying impact with different outcome measures or across follow-up time. This article presents a multilevel mixture modeling approach for meta-analyses that summarizes these sources of impact variation across trials and measured outcomes.
 
Article
For decades, a spirited debate has existed over whether infants' remarkable capacity to learn words is shaped primarily by universal features of human language or by specific featuers of the particulare native language they are acquiring. A strong focus for this debate has been a well-documented difference in early word learning: Infants' success in learning verbs lags behind their success in learning nouns.. In this review, we articulate both sides of the debate and summarize new cross-linguistic evidence from infants that underscores the role of universal features and begins to clarify the impact of distinctly different languages on early language and conceptual development.
 
Article
Clinical depression is a significant mental health problem that is associated with personal suffering and impaired functioning. These effects underscore the continuing need for new approaches that can inform researchers and clinicians when designing interventions. We propose that individual differences in the self-regulation of sadness and distress provide an important link between stress, depressed mood, and the onset of depressive disorder, and that if we have a better understanding of the ways children successfully manage negative emotions, we can better prevent and treat pediatric depression. In this article, we therefore examine the normative development of responses that children use to attenuate sadness, and aspects of the neurobiological infrastructure that both enable and constrain such self-regulatory efforts. We also address the emerging literature on affect regulation among children at familial risk for depressive disorders. We conclude that problems with adaptively self-regulating sadness and distress represent one pathway that can lead to juvenile-onset depression. And we need integrated, developmental studies of the psychosocial and neurobiological aspects of self-regulatory responses to sadness and distress in order to better understand this process, and to design age-sensitive intervention strategies for pediatric depression.
 
Article
This article examines the strengths and weaknesses of several translation techniques currently in use through the lens of emerging opinions on the science and ethics of intercultural research. Broad scientific and ethical dimensions relevant to translating instruments and a distinction between generating multiple language forms of two kinds of instruments are introduced: those in which wording in the source language cannot be altered and those in which constraints of the target language can lead to changes in the original instrument's wording. Developmental psychologists engaged in intercultural research can consider techniques for minimizing the influence of Western perspectives while pursuing conceptual equivalence in order to satisfy science's concern for internal validity of translated instruments.
 
Article
Because individual differences in emotion regulation are associated with risk for childhood behavioral problems, multidisciplinary investigation of the genetic and neural underpinnings of emotion regulation should be a research priority. Here, we summarize research findings from three independent laboratories to demonstrate the ways in which a variety of developmental human neuroscience-based approaches can address critical conceptual issues in the emergence of emotion regulation. To do so, we present three perspectives on how developmental neurobiology constrains and enriches theories of ER. The three perspectives of (1) genetics, (2) brain structure and function, and (3) plasticity of development are illustrated with empirical results derived from both typical and atypical samples of children and adults. These perspectives are complementary and sometimes represent different levels of analysis of the same question.
 
Article
A long-standing and diverse body of evidence has documented the importance of externalizing characteristics as very early etiologic predictors of a pathway to severe alcohol and other drug problems and substance use disorder. At the same time, much remains unclear about the mechanistic structure of this pathway, including understanding what the defining characteristics are that encompass the diverse behaviors included in the externalizing domain. This article proposes that the core risk phenotype unifying this domain is behavioral undercontrol/disinhibition. It describes the defining features of this phenotype and outlines the mediators, moderators, and developmental course that characterize the pathway from early risk to a substance use disorder endpoint. A brief summary of the neurocognitive and brain functional response systems that underlie the behavioral phenotype emphasizes the operation of two systems in dynamic tension, one an effortful control system, the other an incentive reactivity system.
 
Article
Fletcher and Vaughn (this issue) describe recent changes to federal laws governing special education eligibility for specific learning disabilities focusing on what is commonly known as response to intervention (RTI). We are concerned about what appears to us as a selective review of empirical support for RTI and a consequently overly optimistic view of many practical issues surrounding the implementation of RTI models that neglects the potential negative long-term impact on the range of students with and without a learning disability. These include (1) the lack of a firm evidence base reflected in vagaries and ambiguity of the critical details of the model in practice; (2) the worrisome shortcomings of the RTI process as a means of diagnosis or determination of a disability; (3) the contextual, situation-dependent nature of who is identified; (4) the seeming lack of consideration of bright struggling readers in the RTI process; and (5) the apparent lack of student-based data to guide the most effective choice of approaches to, and specific components of, intervention.
 
Article
Self-control plays an important role in healthy development and has been shown to be amenable to intervention. This article presents a theoretical framework for the emerging area of "brain-training" interventions that includes both laboratory-based direct training methods and ecologically valid school-, family-, and community-based interventions. Although these approaches have proliferated in recent years, evidence supporting them is just beginning to emerge, and conceptual models underlying many of the techniques they employ tend to be underspecified and imprecise. Identifying the neural systems responsible for improvements in self-control may be of tremendous benefit not only for overall intervention efficacy but also for basic science issues related to underlying shared biological mechanisms of psychopathology. This article reviews the neurodevelopment of self-control and explores its implications for theory, intervention, and prevention. It then presents a neurally informed framework for understanding self-control development and change and discusses how this framework may inform future intervention strategies for individuals suffering with psychopathology or drug abuse/dependence, or for young children with delays in cognitive or emotional functioning.
 
Models of approximate number representations (left) and exact integer representations (right), depicting distributions of mental activation as a function of target numerosity.
Relation between children's accuracy on a nonsymbolic numerical discrimination task at about age 4 years and their score on a test of symbolic math ability (Test of Early Mathematical Ability–3) 6 months later, adjusted for age at time of testing.
Article
Humans share with other animals a system for thinking about numbers in an imprecise and intuitive way. The Approximate Number System (ANS) that underlies this thinking is present throughout the lifespan, is entirely nonverbal, and supports basic numerical computations like comparing, adding, and subtracting quantities. Humans, unlike other animals, also have a system for representing exact numbers. This linguistically mediated system is slowly mastered over the course of many years and provides the basis for most of our formal mathematical thought. A growing body of evidence suggests that the nonverbal ANS and the culturally invented system of exact numbers are fundamentally linked. In this article, we review evidence for this relationship, describing how group and individual differences in the ANS correlate with and even predict formal math ability. In this way, we illustrate how a system of ancient core knowledge may serve as a foundation for more complex mathematical thought.
 
Article
— J. P. Spencer et al. (2009) ask readers to reject the nativist–empiricist dialogue and adopt a new theoretical perspective on cognition, focusing on “developmental process.” This commentary argues that the dialogue between nativism and empiricism is a rich source of insight into the nature and development of human knowledge. Indeed, the dialogue is entering a new and exciting phase, in which new methods of controlled rearing and of cognitive neuroscience, and new conceptual tools for understanding learning, allow exploration of how human concepts emerge through the interaction of innate cognitive structures shaped by natural selection, with statistical learning processes shaped by specific encounters with the world. This approach fosters new, interdisciplinary research that promises to increase dramatically understanding of human knowledge.
 
Article
In this commentary, we take issue with only one idea in Fletcher and Vaughn's overall balanced description of the potential advantages and disadvantages of RTI: the assertion that RTI models are best conceptualized as a set of processes, not as a single model of service delivery. We argue that RTI's major goal, to prevent long-term and debilitating academic failure, is better served by a unified model that encourages shared understanding among all school-based practitioners about intervention intensity, roles and responsibilities, and constructive and effective relationships between general and special education. We briefly describe a unified model, explain how it eases some of the challenges associated with RTI implementation, and consider implications for learning disabilities.
 
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Abstract— America’s political leaders, parents, social thinkers, educators, and child-development and child-welfare professionals have long emphasized society’s responsibility to children, but these efforts assumed new prominence around 1900. The federal government has supported and provided services from health care to poverty alleviation and enforced a wide range of laws and regulations to enhance the well-being of Americans under age 21. The record of federal child policy implementation has been mixed. Despite this, political and fiscal impediments, and conflicting social science research and popular values, Washington still needs to play a leadership role in improving the well-being of America’s children and families. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said in 1935: “It must not for a moment be forgotten that the core of any social plan must be the child.”
 
Top-cited authors
Jeffrey Jensen Arnett
  • Clark University
Philip Zelazo
  • University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Carolyn J. Hill
  • Georgetown University
Mark W Lipsey
  • Vanderbilt University
Rand D Conger
  • University of California, Davis