Infant and Child Development

Published by Wiley
Online ISSN: 1522-7219
Publications
Article
Using a sample of 263 mother-child dyads, we examined the extent to which maternal emotional and cognitive support during a joint problem solving task when children were 3-years-old predicted children's academic skills one year later independent of each other, the quality of the home learning environment, and maternal emotional responsiveness. When all parenting measures were examined simultaneously, only maternal emotional support during problem solving and the quality of the home learning environment predicted unique variation in gains in pre-academic skills from age 3 to age 4. The positive effect of emotional support during problem solving was especially apparent for children whose pre-academic skills were low at age 3. These findings are discussed in light of the changing demands placed on young children and their parents as they prepare for entry to the formal school system.
 
Article
Are shy young children reluctant emergent scholars? If so, what longer-term effects might shyness have on scholastic performance? This timely Special Issue assembles an interesting set of papers reporting findings with respect to interrelationships between shyness and emergent literacy, shyness and pragmatic language, shyness and vocabulary (among preschoolers in an Arabic culture), and selective mutism and academic performance. The papers address several fascinating dimensions that can raise awareness not only of the potential vulnerabilities attendant on shyness as it relates to both normative and atypical development, and also potential strengths of shy children.
 
Article
Fetal magnetoencephalography (fMEG) is the only non-invasive method for investigating evoked brain responses and spontaneous brain activity generated by the fetus in utero. Fetal auditory as well as visual evoked fields have been successfully recorded in basic stimulus-response studies. Moreover, paradigms investigating precursors for cognitive development, such as habituation and mismatch response have been applied successfully with fMEG. These and other studies have shown that the prenatal stage of life could be an important indicator for later cognitive development. This review addresses the achievements of fMEG and constructively discusses its challenges. It concludes with proposals for future studies as well as with designated new applications. Fetal MEG is a promising, and to date it is the only non-invasive approach for the prenatal assessment of precursors for cognitive development. Future fMEG studies might even enable the diagnosis of developmental delays. Furthermore, fMEG could be critical for the implementation and evaluation of fetal intervention programs in at-risk populations.
 
Article
The goal of this multi-method study was to examine how child gender and coparenting processes influence associations between family stress and toddlers' social adjustment. The participants, 104 dual-earner couples and their 2-year-old children, were videotaped in their home during a freeplay activity. Mothers and fathers completed questionnaires about stress in their roles as partners, workers, and parents and their child's social-emotional adjustment. Consistent with previous research, higher levels of family stress were associated with poorer adjustment for children. Family harmony, represented by warmth and cooperation, was significantly associated with fewer internalizing problems for children even when family stress was considered. Conversely, coparental banter or 'playful humour' between parents moderated the nature of the association between family stress and children's adjustment. Banter between parents was especially protective for girls suggesting that, even in families with toddler-aged children, gender plays an important role in family-level coparenting processes. Future research needs to consider more fully the impact that child characteristics, such as gender, have on the interplay between the family context and children's development.
 
Article
The presence and quality of friendships are posited to have developmental significance, yet little is known about the extent to which children without friends versus low-quality friendships compare on socioemotional adjustment. The current study utilized data from a subsample of 567 children (289 boys) participating in the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. Based on maternal reports at kindergarten, four friendship groups were formed: no friends, low quality, average quality, and high quality, and these groups were used to predict teacher-reported behavior problems and social skills concurrently (in kindergarten) and longitudinally (in first and third grade). Concurrently, low-quality friendships were associated with greater externalizing behavior, whereas high-quality friendships were associated with greater social skills. Longitudinally, having no friends in kindergarten was associated with higher levels of externalizing behavior for boys, but lower levels for girls. Children without friends also showed more internalizing problems at first grade. Lastly, having a high-quality friendship in kindergarten was associated with greater social skills in first and third grades, but only for boys. Results underscore high-quality friendship as a context for the development of social skills and indicate different trajectories of problem behavior for kindergarten children with no friends versus low-quality friendships.
 
Article
In the current study, we examined parent gender differences in feelings (negativity and positivity) and perceptions of child behavioural and emotional problems in adoptive and biological parent-child dyads. In a sample of 85 families, we used a novel within-family adoption design in which one child was adopted and one child was a biological child of the couple, and tested whether the links between parent feelings and child maladjustment included effects of passive gene-environment correlation. Parents reported more negativity and less positivity as well as higher levels of externalizing behaviour for the adopted child compared to the non-adopted child, although effect sizes were small and no longer statistically significant after correcting for multiple comparisons. Fathers and mothers did not differ significantly in their reports of positive and negative feelings towards their children or in regard to child externalizing and internalizing behaviours. The correlations between parental negativity and positivity and child externalizing and internalizing were similar for fathers and mothers, and for adopted and non-adopted children. The findings suggest similar parent-child relationship processes for fathers and mothers, and that genetic transmission of behaviour from parent to child does not account for the association between parental warmth and hostility and child-adjustment problems.
 
Article
Do preschoolers think adults know more about everything than children? Or do they recognize that there are some things that children might know more about than adults? Three-, four-, and five-year-olds (N = 65) were asked to decide whether an adult or child informant would better be able to answer a variety of questions about the nutritional value of foods and about toys. Children at all ages chose to direct the food questions to the adult and the toy questions to the child. Thus, there are some kinds of information for which preschoolers expect that a child would be a better informant than an adult.
 
Article
The present study examined children's and adults' categorization and moral judgment of truthful and untruthful statements. 7-, 9-and 11-year-old Chinese children and college students read stories in which story characters made truthful or untruthful statements and were asked to classify and evaluate the statements. The statements varied in terms of whether the speaker intended to help or harm a listener and whether the statement was made in a setting that called for informational accuracy or politeness. Results showed that the communicative intent and setting factors jointly influence children's categorization of lying and truth-telling, which extends an earlier finding (Lee & Ross, 1997) to childhood. Also, we found that children's and adults' moral judgments of lying and truth-telling were influenced by the communicative intent but not the setting factor. The present results were discussed in terms of Sweetser's (1987) folkloristic model of lying.
 
Article
The goal of this study was to determine whether verbal interactions between mothers and their 6-month-old infants during media exposure ('media verbal interactions') might have direct positive impacts, or mitigate any potential adverse impacts of media exposure, on language development at 14 months. For 253 low-income mother-infant dyads participating in a longitudinal study, media exposure and media verbal interactions were assessed using 24-hour recall diaries. Additionally, general level of cognitive stimulation in the home [StimQ] was assessed at 6 months and language development [Preschool Language Scale-4] was assessed at 14 months. Results suggest that media verbal interactions play a role in the language development of infants from low-income, immigrant families. Evidence showed that media verbal interactions moderated adverse impacts of media exposure found on 14-month language development, with adverse associations found only in the absence the these interactions. Findings also suggest that media verbal interactions may have some direct positive impacts on language development, in that media verbal interactions during the co-viewing of media with educational content (but not other content) were predictive of 14-month language independently of overall level of cognitive stimulation in the home.
 
Article
In this study, we examined the relation between physiological stress-reactivity and temperamental fearfulness in 162 preschool-aged children. Both the autonomic and neuroendocrine arms of the mammalian stress system were examined. Larger stress responses were defined as greater sympathetic activation, parasympathetic withdrawal and cortisol increases to stressor tasks. Fearful temperament was examined using parent report and behavior in response to fear-evocative laboratory tasks. There was little evidence that larger sympathetic activation or parasympathetic withdrawal was associated with fearful temperament. Greater cortisol reactivity, however, was associated with fearful temperament. Additional analyses examined those children who were consistently fearful across all measures, and the results remained largely the same. However, there was some suggestion that consistently fearful compared to non-fearful children might be more likely to exhibit sympathetic activation to the fear-evocative stimuli. These findings provide support for the argument that fearful temperament is associated with greater stress reactivity in young children. Nonetheless the size of the associations was small and future studies will need to determine whether reactivity of stress-sensitive physiological systems contributes to the development of individual differences in fearful temperament or merely reflects these differences.
 
Article
The assessment of infant temperament has been typically accomplished with parent questionnaires. When compared with temperament behaviours observed in the laboratory, parents and observers generally do not agree, leading some researchers to question the validity of parent report. This paper reports on a representative sample of infants whose families resided in non-metropolitan counties and whose temperament was measured in three ways: (1) standard parent report (Infant Behavior Questionnaire); (2) observer ratings across two lengthy home visits; and (3) observer coding of second-by-second reactions to specific emotion-eliciting tasks. In order to account for both trait and method variance, structural equation modelling was applied to a sample of 955 infants (M age = 7.3 months) using variables from the three methods that reflected the dimensions of positivity and negativity. Although models based solely on method factors and trait factors fit the data well, results indicated that a model that included method and trait factors provided the best fit. Results also indicated that parents and observers (either across the home visit or to specific tasks) converge, to a degree, on ratings of the positivity dimension but diverge on the negativity dimension.
 
Article
The present study examined the role of positive parenting on externalizing behaviors in a longitudinal, genetically informative sample. It often is assumed that positive parenting prevents behavior problems in children via an environmentally mediated process. Alternatively, the association may be due to either an evocative gene-environment correlation, in which parents react to children's genetically-influenced behavior in a positive way, or a passive gene-environment correlation, where parents passively transmit a risk environment and the genetic risk factor for the behavioral outcome to their children. The present study estimated the contribution of these processes in the association between positive parenting and children's externalizing behavior. Positive parenting was assessed via observations at ages 7, 9, 14, 24, and 36 months and externalizing behaviors were assessed through parent report at ages 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11, and 12 years. The significant association between positive parenting and externalizing behavior was negative, with children of mothers who showed significantly more positive parenting during toddlerhood having lower levels of externalizing behavior in childhood; however, there was not adequate power to distinguish whether this covariation was due to genetic, shared environmental, or nonshared environmental influences.
 
Article
The current study examined the role of maternal behavior and toddlers' emotion regulation strategies in the development of children's sustained attention abilities. Participants for this study included 447 children (232 girls) obtained from three different cohorts participating in a larger ongoing longitudinal study. When the children were 2 years of age, mothers brought their children to the laboratory and were videotaped during several tasks designed to elicit emotion regulation and mother- child interaction. Sustained attention was also measured at the same visit via a laboratory task and in a subsequent visit when children were 4.5 years of age. Results indicated that toddlers' use of help-seeking emotion regulation strategies was positively related to sustained attention while avoidance behaviors and maternal behavior characterized by high levels of overcontrolling/intrusiveness were negatively related to sustained attention at age 2. Significant interactions emerged such that high levels of maternal warmth/responsiveness buffered the negative associations between low use of distraction and high use of self-comforting emotion regulation strategies and sustained attention at age 2. Maternal behavior characterized by high levels of warmth/responsiveness also predicted greater growth in sustained attention from age 2 to 4.5. These findings are discussed in terms of how maternal behaviors and children's use of active versus passive emotion regulation strategies relate to sustained attention abilities.
 
Article
Recent research has demonstrated that social responsiveness (comprised of social awareness, social information processing, reciprocal social communication, social motivation, and repetitive/restricted interests) is continuously distributed within the general population. In the present study, we consider temperament as a co-occurring source of individual differences in social responsiveness in young children. The sample consisted of 62 infants assessed at 2-, 3-, and 4-years-old. Measures of temperament were obtained at each age (Early Childhood Behavior Questionnaire, Children's Behavior Questionnaire) and social responsiveness was measured at 4-years-old (Social Responsiveness Scale; SRS). Multivariate patterns of association between components of temperament and social responsiveness were observed at each age, with overall findings in line with the broader literature examining temperament and socio-development associations. Importantly, these results provide support for the usefulness of temperament as a relevant source of variability in social responsiveness, as measured by the SRS, in typically developing young children.
 
Article
This study investigated how parental beliefs about children's emotions and parental stress relate to children's feelings of security in the parent-child relationship. Models predicting direct effects of parental beliefs and parental stress, and moderating effects of parental stress on the relationship between parental beliefs and children's feelings of security were tested. Participants were 85 African American, European American, and Lumbee American Indian 4(th) and 5(th) grade children and one of their parents. Children reported their feelings of security in the parent-child relationship; parents independently reported on their beliefs and their stress. Parental stress moderated relationships between three of the four parental beliefs about the value of children's emotions and children's attachment security. When parent stress was low, parental beliefs accepting and valuing children's emotions were not related to children's feelings of security; when parent stress was high, however, parental beliefs accepting and valuing children's emotions were related to children's feelings of security. These findings highlight the importance of examining parental beliefs and stress together for children's attachment security.
 
Article
This longitudinal study examined individual differences and correlates of focused attention when toddlers were approximately 18 months old (T1; n = 256) and a year later (T2; n = 230). Toddlers' attention and negative emotionality were reported by mothers and non-parental caregivers and rated globally by observers. Toddlers' focused attention also was observed during two mother-child interactions and an independent play task. Measures of maternal emotional support and control were obtained via self-report and observation. Some contemporaneous relations among indices of toddlers' attention were obtained, particularly for observed measures. Moreover, all measures of attention demonstrated stability across time. Negative emotionality was negatively related to toddlers' observed attention at both ages, whereas maternal praise had positive concurrent associations. Maternal control was negatively related to observed observed attention at T2 and also predicted longitudinally, but only for children who initially had low or moderate attention. The findings suggest that individual differences in focused attention evidence stability early in life but can be influenced by adult socialization.
 
Article
This study examined bidirectional relations between mothers' lax and overreactive discipline and children's misbehavior and negative affect. We examined the moment-to-moment stability of mothers' and children's behaviors (actor effects) and mothers' and children's influence on their partners' subsequent behaviors (partner effects). Participants were 71 mothers and their 24-48-month-old children observed during a thirty-minute interaction. Both children and mothers exhibited stability in their own behaviors and influenced the subsequent behaviors of their partners. Additionally, a comparison of partner effects indicated that overreactive discipline more strongly predicted child negative affect than child negative affect predicted overreactive discipline. In contrast, although a child's negative affect predicted lax discipline, lax discipline did not predict subsequent child negative affect.
 
Article
This study examined potential non-shared environmental processes in middle childhood by estimating statistical associations between monozygotic (MZ) twin differences in externalizing and internalizing problems and positive social engagement, and differential maternal positivity and negativity, over 1 year. Seventy-seven pairs of identical twins participated (M = 6.08-years old, 65% male) in two annual home visits. Observers' ratings and maternal reports were gathered. At both assessments, the twin who showed more conduct problems (maternal report and observers' ratings) and less positive social engagement (positive affect, responsiveness) received more maternal negativity and less maternal warmth (self-reports and observers' ratings), relative to his or her genetically identical co-twin. The same patterns held over time, for the associations between change in differential MZ twin conduct problems and social engagement and change in differential maternal behaviour. Effects for child internalizing problems were not consistent within or across raters. Overall, these results indicated that differential maternal warmth and negativity-self-perceived and observed by others- are important aspects of sibling differentiation for both problematic and adaptive behaviours during middle childhood.
 
Effects of maternal depressive symptoms, dyadic exibility, and dyadic positive affect on mothers' ratings of child negativity and behaviour problems. Note: Non-signicant paths are omitted. EXT = externalizing problems; INT = internalizing problems; NEG = emotional negativity.
Effects of maternal depressive symptoms, dyadic flexibility, and dyadic positive affect on teachers' ratings of child negativity and behaviour problems. Note: Non-significant paths are omitted. EXT = externalizing problems; INT = internalizing problems; NEG = emotional negativity.
Article
Lower levels of parent-child affective flexibility indicate risk for children's problem outcomes. This short-term longitudinal study examined whether maternal depressive symptoms were related to lower levels of dyadic affective flexibility and positive affective content in mother-child problem-solving interactions at age 3.5 years (N=100) and whether these maternal and dyadic factors predicted child emotional negativity and behaviour problems at a 4-month follow-up. Dyadic flexibility and positive affect were measured using dynamic systems-based modelling of second-by-second affective patterns during a mother-child problem-solving task. Results showed that higher levels of maternal depressive symptoms were related to lower levels of dyadic affective flexibility, which predicted children's higher levels of negativity and behaviour problems as rated by teachers. Mothers' ratings of child negativity and behaviour problems were predicted by their own depressive symptoms and individual child factors, but not by dyadic flexibility. There were no effects of dyadic positive affect. Findings highlight the importance of studying patterns in real-time dyadic parent-child interactions as potential mechanisms of risk in developmental psychopathology.
 
Hypothesized model of direct and indirect effects of household chaos, positive behaviour support, and inhibitory control on children's externalizing problems.
Model of relations among household chaos, positive behaviour support, inhibitory control and externalizing problems *p < .05; **p < .01. Note: Unstandardized estimates are above the standardized estimates, which are in parentheses. Covariates (treatment group, parent education, child gender, attention problems and number of children in the home) and some correlational paths between predictors were included in the model but are not shown for simplicity. Residual variances are shown for age 3 predictors because age 3 predictors were regressed on treatment group.
Article
The purpose of this study was to examine self-regulation as a mediator of the relation between family functioning and externalizing behaviour in 731 low-income children (M age = 41 months) across three time points. Specifically, this study focused on whether chaos in the home and positive behaviour support were indirectly related to externalizing problems through their influence on inhibitory control. The primary findings were as follows: (a) chaos in the home at age 3 years was indirectly related to externalizing behaviour at age 5.5 years through children's inhibitory control at age 4 years, and (b) positive behaviour support at age 3 years was indirectly related to externalizing behaviour at age 5.5 years through inhibitory control at age 4 years. Implications of these findings and directions for future research are discussed.
 
Article
This study investigated the development of intuitions about which properties are associated with the brain and which are associated with the body. A sample of 60 children aged 6, 8, and 10 years, as well a sample of 20 adults, were told about a brain transplant between two individuals and were asked about where certain properties resided after the transplant. Adults and older children construed the characteristics associated with fine-motor behaviour, culpability, social contract and best friendships as transferring with the brain. Characteristics associated with gross-motor behaviour, physical/biological properties, ownership and familial relationships were more likely to be seen as remaining with the body. Domain-based explanations for this pattern of results are discussed.
 
Article
Evaluative food categories are value-laden assessments which reflect the healthfulness and palatability of foods (e.g., healthy/unhealthy, yummy/yucky). In a series of three studies, this research examines how 3- to 4-year-old children (N = 147) form evaluative food categories based on input from external sources of information. The results indicate that children prefer to ask a mom and teacher over a cartoon and child for information about the evaluative status of foods. However, children are cautious to accept information about healthy foods from all of the external sources compared to unhealthy, yummy, and yucky foods. The results also indicate that providing information about the positive taste of healthy foods helps to encourage children to select healthy foods to eat. Taken together, these results have potential implications for children's health and nutrition education.
 
Article
Evaluative categories include items that share the same value- laden assessment. Given that these categories have not been examined extensively within the child concepts literature, the present research explored evaluative categorization and induction within the domain of food as a test case. Specifically, two studies examined the categories of healthy and junky foods in children aged 4 and 7 years. Study 1 showed that by aged 4 years, children appropriately apply the evaluative categories of healthy and junky foods to a variety of different foods. Study 2 showed that by age 4 years, children also selectively use the evaluative categories of healthy and junky foods for inductive inferences about the human body, but not for arbitrary or unrelated inferences. Taken together, these results highlight the importance of evaluative processing in young children's categorization and induction.
 
Article
This study examined the contribution of child temperament, parenting, and their interaction on inhibitory control development in a sample of maltreated and non-maltreated preschool children. One hundred and eighteen mother-child dyads were drawn from predominantly low-income, rural communities. Dyads participated in a laboratory session in which maternal warm autonomy support, warm guidance, and strict/hostile control were observationally coded during a joint teaching task. Independent assessments of children's inhibitory control were obtained, and observers rated children's temperament. After relevant covariates, including income, maternal education, and child age and IQ were controlled for, there were no differences between the maltreatment and non-maltreatment groups in either children's inhibitory control or mothers' behaviours in the laboratory session. Even after much of the variance in children's inhibitory control was accounted for from the covariates, children's temperamental negativity moderated the effects of warm autonomy support on inhibitory control in both maltreatment and non-maltreatment groups. Temperamentally negative children whose mothers displayed more warm autonomy support showed greater inhibitory control, at levels on par with low-negative children. Findings suggest that heterogeneity in children's self-regulation may be due in part to individual differences in sensitivity to caregiver support for children's independence, even among those exposed to maltreatment.
 
Article
Maternal expressive styles, based on a combination of positive and negative expressive patterns, were identified at two points in time and related to multiple aspects of preschool children's emotional development. Mother-child pairs from 260 families participated when the children were 3 years old, and 240 participated again at aged 4 years. Expressive styles were identified at age 3 using cluster analysis, replicated at age 4 and examined in relation to children's emotional understanding, expressiveness and regulation. Three expressive styles were identified: high positive/low negative, very low positive/average negative and average positive/very high negative. Cluster membership was stable in 63% of families from age 3 to 4 years; no systematic patterns of change were evident in the remaining families. Expressive style was related to aspects of children's emotional expression at 3 years and to emotion expression and regulation at 4 years. Children's expressiveness and regulation at age 3 were also related to changes in mothers' expressive styles over 1 year. Identifying mothers' expressive styles provides a unique way to understand the potential role of the emotional climates in which preschool-aged children learn to express and regulate their own emotions.
 
Article
This study explored the effects of collectivism on lying to conceal a group transgression. Seven-, 9-, and 11-year-old US and Chinese children (N = 374) were asked to evaluate stories in which protagonists either lied or told the truth about their group's transgression and were then asked about either the protagonist's motivations or justification for their own evaluations. Previous research suggests that children in collectivist societies such as China find lying for one's group to be more acceptable than do children from individualistic societies such as the United States. The current study provides evidence that this is not always the case: Chinese children in this study viewed lies told to conceal a group's transgressions less favourably than did US children. An examination of children's reasoning about protagonists' motivations for lying indicated that children in both countries focused on an impact to self when discussing motivations for protagonists to lie for their group. Overall, results suggest that children living in collectivist societies do not always focus on the needs of the group.
 
Article
The present study examined Chinese children's moral evaluations of truths and lies about one's own pro-social acts. Children ages 7, 9, and 11 were read vignettes in which a protagonist performs a good deed and is asked about it by a teacher, either in front of the class or in private. In response, the protagonist either tells a modest lie, which is highly valued by the Chinese culture, or tells an immodest truth, which violates the Chinese cultural norms about modesty. Children were asked to identify whether the protagonist's statement was the truth or a lie, and to evaluate how 'good' or 'bad' the statement was. Chinese children rated modest lies more positively than immodest truths, with this effect becoming more pronounced with age. Rural Chinese children and those with at least one nonprofessional parent rated immodest truths less positively when they were told in public rather than in private. Furthermore, Chinese children of parents with high collectivism scores valued modest lies more than did children of parents with low collectivism scores. These findings suggest that both macro- and micro-cultural factors contribute significantly to children's moral understanding of truth and lie telling.
 
Article
The relationship between recall memory, visual recognition memory, social communication, and the emergence of language skills was measured in a longitudinal study. Thirty typically developing Swedish children were tested at 6, 9 and 14 months. The result showed that, in combination, visual recognition memory at 6 months, deferred imitation at 9 months and turn-taking skills at 14 months could explain 41% of the variance in the infants' production of communicative gestures as measured by a Swedish variant of the MacArthur Communicative Development Inventories (CDI). In this statistical model, deferred imitation stood out as the strongest predictor.
 
Article
The earliest relationship does not begin with birth. Pregnant women construct mental representations of the fetus, and feelings of affiliation or "maternal-fetal attachment" generally increase over the course of gestation. While there is a fairly substantial literature on the development and moderation of psychological features of the maternal-fetal relationship, including the role of ultrasound imaging, relatively little is known about the manner in which maternal psychological functioning influences the fetus. Dispositional levels of maternal stress and anxiety are modestly associated with aspects of fetal heart rate and motor activity. Both induced maternal arousal and relaxation generate fairly immediate alterations to fetal neurobehaviors; the most consistently observed fetal response to changes in maternal psychological state involves suppression of motor activity. These effects may be mediated, in part, by an orienting response of the fetus to changes in the intrauterine environment. Conversely, there is evidence that fetal behaviors elicit maternal physiological responses. Integration of this finding into a more dynamic model of the maternal-fetal dyad, and implications for the postnatal relationship are discussed. Research on the period before birth affords tremendous opportunity for developmental scientists to advance understanding of the origins of human attachment.
 
Article
Interesting systems, whether biological or artificial, develop. Starting from some initial conditions, they respond to environmental changes, and continuously improve their capabilities. Developmental psychologists have dedicated significant effort to studying the developmental progression of infant imitation skills, because imitation underlies the infant's ability to understand and learn from his or her social environment. In a converging intellectual endeavour, roboticists have been equipping robots with the ability to observe and imitate human actions because such abilities can lead to rapid teaching of robots to perform tasks. We provide here a comparative analysis between studies of infants imitating and learning from human demonstrators, and computational experiments aimed at equipping a robot with such abilities. We will compare the research across the following two dimensions: (a) initial conditions-what is innate in infants, and what functionality is initially given to robots, and (b) developmental mechanisms-how does the performance of infants improve over time, and what mechanisms are given to robots to achieve equivalent behaviour. Both developmental science and robotics are critically concerned with: (a) how their systems can and do go 'beyond the stimulus' given during the demonstration, and (b) how the internal models used in this process are acquired during the lifetime of the system.
 
Illustration of stimuli and area of interests with normal configurations on the left and linear configurations on the right. Top: abstract stimulus; middle: human stimulus; bottom: monkey stimulus. Area within white line represents area of interest.
Summary of results for normal and linear faces from abstract, human and monkey face stimuli. Top: average latency to first fixation (in seconds); middle: average looking duration (in seconds); bottom: average number of fixations. Grey bars indicate normal configurations and white bars indicate linear configurations of each face type. Error bars represent standard errors.
Article
Faces are visually attractive to both human and nonhuman primates. Human neonates are thought to have a broad template for faces at birth and prefer face-like to non-face-like stimuli. To better compare developmental trajectories of face processing phylogenetically, here we investigated preferences for face-like stimuli in infant rhesus macaques using photographs of real faces. We presented infant macaques aged 15-25days with human, macaque, and abstract faces with both normal and linear arrangements of facial features, and measured infants' gaze durations, number of fixations, and latency to look to each face using eye-tracking technology. There was an overall preference for normal over linear facial arrangements for abstract and monkey faces, but not human faces. Moreover, infant macaques looked less at monkey faces than at abstract or human faces. These results suggest that species and facial configurations affect face processing in infant macaques, and we discuss potential explanations for these findings. Further, carefully controlled studies are required to ascertain whether infant macaques' face template can be considered as broad as human infants' face template.
 
Article
The present study examined developmental changes in the ability to recognize face parts. In Experiment 1, participants were familiarized with whole faces and given a recognition test with old and new eyes, noses, mouths, inner faces, outer faces, or whole faces. Adults were above chance in their recognition of the eye and mouth regions. However, children did not naturally encode and recognize face parts independently of the entire face. In addition, all age groups showed comparable inner and outer face recognition, except for 8- to 9-year-olds who showed a recognition advantage for outer faces. In Experiment 2, when participants were familiarized with eyes, noses, or mouths and tested with eyes, noses, or mouths, respectively, all ages showed above-chance recognition of eyes and mouths. Thirteen- to 14-year-olds were adult-like in their recognition of the eye region, but mouth recognition continued to develop beyond 14 years of age. Nose recognition was above chance among 13- to 14-year-olds, but recognition scores remained low even in adulthood. The present findings reveal unique developmental trajectories in the use of isolated facial regions in face recognition and suggest that featural cues (as a class) have a different ontogenetic course relative to holistic and configural cues.
 
Article
Myriad studies support a relation between parental beliefs and behaviors. This study adds to the literature by focusing on the specific relationship between parental goals and their communication with toddlers. Do parents with different goals talk about different topics with their children? Parents' goals for their 30-month-olds were gathered using semi-structured interviews with 47 primary caregivers, whereas the topics of conversations that took place during interactions were investigated via coding videotapes of observations in the home. Parents' short- and long-term goals spanned several areas including educational, social-emotional, developmental and pragmatic goals. Parental utterances most frequently focused on pragmatic issues, followed by play and academic topics. Parents who mentioned long-term educational goals devoted more of their talk to academic topics and less to pragmatic topics, controlling for socio-economic status. Thus, parental goals differ and these differences relate to the conversations parents engage in with their children.
 
Article
Human neonates spend the majority of their time sleeping. Despite the limited waking hours available for environmental exploration, the first few months of life are a time of rapid learning about the environment. The organization of neonate sleep differs qualitatively from adult sleep, and the unique characteristics of neonatal sleep may promote learning. Sleep contributes to infant learning in multiple ways. First, sleep facilitates neural maturation, thereby preparing infants to process and explore the environment in increasingly sophisticated ways. Second, sleep plays a role in memory consolidation of material presented while the infant was awake. Finally, emerging evidence indicates that infants process sensory stimuli and learn about contingencies in their environment even while asleep. As infants make the transition from reflexive to cortically mediated control, learned responses to physiological challenges during sleep may be critical adaptations to promote infant survival.
 
Article
Data from our research are reviewed showing limited attentiveness and responsivity to animate stimuli in newborns of depressed mothers. These include face–voice stimuli of mothers and strangers, newborn cry sounds and instrumental and vocal music. Newborns of depressed mothers are also noted to be less attentive and responsive when presented with inanimate stimuli, including different texture nipples, different temperature nipples and different weight tubes. Potential underlying mechanisms are suggested by research showing negative effects of prenatal depression, elevated prenatal cortisol and lower prenatal dopamine and serotonin on the newborns of depressed mothers. Additional risk factors are explored, including sleep disturbances and other prenatal stressors. Early interventions, including pregnancy massage, massage therapy for infants and demonstration of the Brazelton Assessment, have been noted to enhance the neonates' attentiveness and responsivity to animate and inanimate stimuli. Limitations of these studies are discussed, including the sample being limited to lower SES women who have many other problems that potentially affect newborns. More controlled studies are needed to assess potential mediating factors for the inferior performance of these newborns on perceptual tasks such as limited attentiveness and/or greater arousal as well as longitudinal follow-up studies to determine whether these limited perceptual abilities continue into infancy. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Article
This study is an age-7 follow-up of 40 children who at age 4 were identified as ‘hard to manage’ and were compared to 40 age and sex matched typically developing peers on a set of simple, manually administered executive function tasks. At age 4, the ‘hard to manage’ group showed marked deficits in inhibitory control and planning, but showed intact set-shifting and working memory (Hughes et al., 1998). The present study assessed the continuity of executive function deficits among these ‘hard to manage’ children, using computerized tests of planning, working memory and set-shifting (from the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB)) and a computerized Go-No-Go test of inhibitory control (from the Maudsley Attention and Response Suppression task battery (MARS)). In addition, real-time observational ratings were made via a questionnaire checklist. Compared with controls, children in the ‘hard to manage’ group showed impaired inhibitory control but intact planning, working memory and set-shifting. Observational ratings confirmed the group difference in inhibitory control, as the ‘hard to manage’ group showed significantly more perseverative errors and rule violations. These findings raise important methodological issues concerning effects of task format and highlight the importance of combining experimental and observational approaches to assessing problems in executive control. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Article
To assess relationships between parental socialization of emotion and children's coping following an intensely emotional event, parents' beliefs and behaviours regarding emotion and children's coping strategies were investigated after a set of terrorist attacks. Parents (n=51) filled out the Parents' Beliefs about Negative Emotions questionnaire and were interviewed within two weeks of the attacks. Their elementary and middle school-aged children were interviewed eight weeks later. First, parents' beliefs were related to two kinds of parental behaviours. Parents' beliefs about both the value of and the danger of children's emotions were positively related to their discussion with their children. Parents' belief about children's emotions as dangerous was also negatively related to parents' expressiveness with their children. Second, parents' beliefs were related to five kinds of coping strategies reported by their children. Parents' belief about children's emotions as valuable predicted children's problem-solving, emotion-oriented, and support-seeking coping following the terrorist attacks. Parents' belief about children's emotions as dangerous predicted children's avoidance and distraction coping following the attacks. Parents' beliefs about the importance of children's emotions may foster a family atmosphere that facilitates children's coping with intensely emotional events. Results support differentiated, multi-faceted analysis of the broader construct of parental beliefs. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Article
The purpose of this study was to investigate individual differences in sustained attention and task performance with toddlers. Participants were 61 17–24-month old toddlers. Indices of sustained attention (duration of attention and frequency of off-task glances) were assessed during two 4 min problem solving tasks, and then related to problem solving and the mental scale of the Bayley scales of infant development-II (BSID-II). As expected, toddlers who attended to tasks for longer periods of time were more successful at problem solving, and had higher scores on the BSID-II than toddlers who attended for shorter periods of time. In addition, older toddlers had longer attention spans, more frequent off-task glances, and were more successful at problem solving than younger toddlers. Interestingly, toddlers with more frequent off-task glances had longer attention spans, were more successful at problem solving, and had higher BSID-II scores than peers with fewer off-task glances. These findings suggest that although behavioural indices can be used to identify sustained attention, the relationship between behaviours thought to capture distractibility and attention is more complex than had been previously assumed. Results are discussed in the context of current theories of infant attention and cognitive performance. Copyright © 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Article
The use of an adult as a resource for help and instruction in a problem solving situation was examined in 9, 14, and 18-month-old infants. Infants were placed in various situations ranging from a simple means-end task where a toy was placed beyond infants' prehensile space on a mat, to instances where an attractive toy was placed inside closed transparent boxes that were more or less difficult for the child to open. The experimenter gave hints and modelled the solution each time the infant made a request (pointing, reaching, or showing a box to the experimenter), or if the infant was unable to solve the problem. Infants' success on the problems, sensitivity to the experimenter's modelling, and communicative gestures (requests, co-occurrence of looking behaviour and requests) were analysed. Results show that older infants had better success in solving problems although they exhibited difficulties in solving the simple means-end task compared to the younger infants. Moreover, 14- and 18-month-olds were sensitive to the experimenter's modelling and used her demonstration cues to solve problems. By contrast, 9-month-olds did not show such sensitivity. Finally, 9-month-old infants displayed significantly fewer communicative gestures toward the adult compared to the other age groups, although in general, all infants tended to increase their frequency of requests as a function of problem difficulty. These observations support the idea that during the first half of the second year infants develop a new collaborative stance toward others. The stance is interpreted as foundational to teaching and instruction, two mechanisms of social learning that are sometime considered as specifically human. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Article
This paper presents a longitudinal study of the development of family interactions from pregnancy to toddlerhood. Family interactions are increasingly acknowledged as a predictive factor for children's psychopathological outcomes. We used an observational setting, the Lausanne Trilogue Play, to evaluate the ‘family alliance’, namely, the quality of interactive coordination between family members. Families participated at the 5th month of pregnancy, and at 3- and 18-months after birth. The sample (N=39) consisted of non-referred primiparous families. Results show that (i) family alliance is stable during the first two years for most families: the quality of prenatal interactions between parents and a baby doll is thus predictive of the subsequent interactions with the actual child; (ii) there are links, but only a few, between family interactions and children outcomes reported by parents. Methodological issues (observation versus self-reported questionnaires) are discussed. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Article
In two experiments the flexibility of 18-month-olds' extension of familiar object labels was investigated using the intermodal preferential looking paradigm. The first experiment tested whether infants consider intact and incomplete objects as equally acceptable referents for familiar labels. Infants looked equally long at the intact and incomplete objects whether or not a label was presented. In the second experiment, infants were requested to find the referent of a target word among an incomplete target and an intact distracter or an intact target and an incomplete distracter. The incomplete objects were missing a large or small part. Infants looked longer at the incomplete target, even when large or small parts were deleted. Taken together, these findings suggest that infants do not hold a strong shape bias when generalizing familiar words. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Article
Infants can inhibit a prepotent but wrong action towards a goal in order to perform a causal means-action. It is not clear, however, whether infants can perform an arbitrary means-action while inhibiting a prepotent response. In four experiments, we explore this executive functioning in 18–24-month-old children. The working memory and inhibition demands in a novel means-end problem were systematically varied in terms of the type and combination of means-action(s) (causal or arbitrary) contained within the task, the number of means-actions (1 or 2), the goal visual availability and whether the task was accompanied by a narrative. Experiments 1 and 2 showed that children performed tasks that contained causal as opposed to arbitrary information more accurately; accuracy was also higher in tasks containing only one step. Experiment 2 also demonstrated that performance in the arbitrary task improved significantly when all sources of prepotency were removed. In Experiment 3, task performance improved when the two means-actions were intelligibly linked to the task goal. Experiment 4 demonstrated that the use of a narrative that provided a meaningful (non-causal) link between the two means-actions also improved children's performance by assisting their working memory in the generation of a rationale. Findings provide an initial account of executive functioning in the months that bring the end of infancy. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Article
In this article, we discuss where biomechanical analysis can contribute to our understanding of motor development, and more particularly in what ways biomechanics can contribute to (1) explaining the universal sequence in motor milestones; (2) explaining variations in developmental sequence between individuals; (3) understanding the impact of context on the actions of an individual; and (4) understanding, preventing, and managing chronic disabilities. In our view, biomechanics is concerned with the dynamics of the musculo-skeletal system (MSS) and thus provides insights in the way motion is affected by the activation of muscles and the mechanical interaction between the MSS and the environment. Biomechanical analysis is important in understanding the development of actions that depend on the perceptual-motor loop although it cannot provide a full account of the changes in the behaviour. The contributions and limitations of specific biomechanical analyses such as the inverse and forward dynamical models are discussed in the light of the article of Jensen (2005). Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Article
Using Ecological Systems Theory and stage sequential modelling procedures for detecting mediation, this study examined how early developmental contexts impact preschoolers' performances on a measure of sustained attention and impulse control. Data from 1273 European-American and African-American participants in the NICHD Study of Early Child Care were used to identify the potential mediators of the relation between early household income-to-need (INR) and 54-month impulsivity and inattention. Exploratory analyses were also conducted to determine whether the relationships between early income, home environment, parenting stress, and the outcome variables differ for African-American versus European-American-American children. We found modest support for the study hypothesis that 36-month home environment quality mediated the INR/attention relationship. INR accounted for more home environment score variance and home environment accounted for more Impulsivity score variance for African-American children. Home environments were related to inattention in the European-American, but not African-American, group. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Article
We examined receptive language and academic abilities in children with selective mutism (SM; n = 30; M age = 8.8 years), anxiety disorders (n = 46; M age = 9.3 years), and community controls (n = 27; M age = 7.8 years). Receptive language and academic abilities were assessed using standardized tests completed in the laboratory. We found a significant group by sex interaction for receptive vocabulary scores such that, within females, the SM and mixed anxiety groups had significantly lower receptive vocabulary scores than community controls. We also found that children with SM and children with anxiety disorders had significantly lower mathematics scores than community controls. Despite these differences in mathematics and receptive vocabulary performance, children with SM and children with anxiety disorders still performed at age-level norms, while more children in the community control group performed above age-level norms. Findings suggest that despite their speaking inhibition in the school setting, children with SM are still able to attain the receptive vocabulary and academic abilities that are expected at their age levels. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Article
Previous work by our group has shown that infant emotional vitality (EV), the lively expression of shared emotion both positive and negative, predicts cognitive and language abilities in toddlerhood. Specifically, infants who demonstrated a pattern of high emotional expression combined with high bids to their caregivers, fared significantly better on the Bayley II and Preschool Language Scales (PLS-3) at 2 years of age than infants who showed both low expression and low bids to mother. That study was conducted on a large, low-income, ethnically diverse sample. The current study was undertaken with a smaller but demographically similar sample as an effort to demonstrate the value of EV as a construct and to provide additional information about its links with later developmental outcomes. Replication that included a variation in the age at which EV was assessed provides support for the generalizability of the construct. In addition, this study examined EV's effects further into childhood than did the original study in order to insure they are not limited to a brief window in toddlerhood. The results indicate that over and above maternal psychological resources, EV expressed during positive/joyful and frustrating circumstances in 8-month-olds accounted for significant portions of variance in expressive language at 30 months and cognitive-developmental assessments at 24 and 36 months. This study supports EV as an important relational-emotional behaviour that increases experiences that optimize developmental outcomes. Successful replication suggests that EV holds promise as a construct with clinical utility for early interventions attempting to improve developmental outcomes in children from poor families. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Article
Individuals with autism show various signs of heightened abilities in visuo-spatial functioning. First, it is long-established that they excel on embedded figures and block design tests relative to comparison participants. Second, some evidence suggests that processing global features is affected by inappropriate processing of the constituent elements of a stimulus. Third, they are more accurate than comparison participants in judging the shape of a slanted circle in a context in which ambient visual cues are eliminated. This suggests that their perception of the shape is less influenced by prior knowledge. Fourth, they are fast at searching for feature and conjunctive targets in a visual array. Contrary to earlier reports, however, they are susceptible to visual illusions. Also, they do show evidence of utilising prior knowledge when pairing a colour with an atypically coloured target. Accordingly, we conclude that there is something distinctive about autistic visuo-spatial functioning, but not necessarily in ways that are predicted by the ‘weak central coherence’ hypothesis. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Article
Maternal prenatal smoking, birth weight and sociodemographic factors were investigated in relation to cognitive abilities of 1544 children (aged 3.5 years) participating in the Québec Longitudinal Study of Children's Development. The Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT) was used to assess verbal ability, the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence-Revised (WPPSI-R) block design test to assess visuospatial ability, and the Visually Cued Recall (VCR) task to assess short-term memory. Prenatal smoking was related to performance on the WPPSI-R, the PPVT, and the VCR, although it did not independently predict any cognitive ability after maternal education was taken into account. Birth weight was a more robust predictor of all outcome measures and independently predicted VCR-performance. Birth weight interacted significantly with family income and maternal education in predicting visuospatial ability, indicating a greater influence of birth weight under relatively poor socio-economic conditions. Parenting and family functioning mediated associations between maternal education/family income and cognitive task performance under different birth weight conditions, although there were indications for stronger effects under relatively low birth weight. We conclude that investigations of moderating and mediating effects can provide insights into which children are most at risk of cognitive impairment and might benefit most from interventions. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
 
Top-cited authors
Keith Crnic
  • Arizona State University
Louis J Moses
  • Victoria University of Wellington
Casey Hoffman
  • The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Charles Nelson
  • Harvard Medical School
Daniel Naiman
  • Johns Hopkins University