Article

The start of a new school year: Individual differences in salivary cortisol response in relation to child temperament

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Abstract

Noon and evening salivary cortisol levels were examined in 70 elementary school children during the 1st week of a new school year. Samples were obtained on the 1st and 5th days of school and on weekend days. Delta cortisol scores were created to measure the change in children's levels on initial school days relative to weekend days. Temperament was assessed using Rothbart's Child Behavior Questionnaire, a parent report instrument. The three dimensions of surgency or extroversion, negative affectivity, and effortful control were examined. Positive correlations were obtained with Day 1 delta cortisol for negative affectivity and Day 5 delta cortisol for surgency. Contrary to the expectation that internalizing aspects of temperament (shyness, fearfulness) would be associated with larger increases in cortisol to the novelty and challenge of a new school year, these data indicate that larger increases in cortisol were observed in more extroverted children.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... However, studies have produced mixed results related to the patterning of stress system activity. For example, some studies have shown that dominant individuals exhibit stronger HPA and ANS response (Davis et al. 1999; Hellhammer et al. 1997; Kivlighan and Granger 2006; Poisbleau et al. 2005; Sapolsky 2004) while others have shown subordinate individuals to be more physiologically reactive (Chamove and Bowman 1978; Fox, et al. 1997; Ostner, et al. 2008; Stroud, et al. 2009). In some instances, rank increase was associated with reduced HPA axis activation. ...
... HPA axis activity associated with hierarchies can vary as a function of personality, sex, social structure, and stability of the hierarchy (Boyce and Ellis 2005; Ellis and Del Giudice 2014). For example, human physiological responses to social contexts, as indexed by cortisol levels, were found to be associated with temperament in elementary school children in relation to starting a new school year (Bruce et al. 2002; Davis, et al. 1999). In particular, extroverted children had the largest cortisol response in the first few days of school, potentially reflecting their arousal and perception of social opportunities (Nesse, et al. 2007). ...
... This is consistent with previous literature that shows extraversion and openness to experience impacts aspects of friendship and social likeability (Akrami and Ekehammar 2006; van der Linden et al. 2010; Witvliet et al. 2010; Young and Bradley 1998). Extraverted individuals are often socially visible and known by all members of the group, and engage in behaviors that are associated with gaining social standing (Davis et al. 1999 ). In addition, they are more socially motivated and therefore are more interested in controlling social resources (John et al. 1994). ...
Article
Full-text available
Social hierarchies and physiology are intricately linked, but these associations have not been well studied in adolescence, typically a time of increased focus on social status. Three studies were conducted to better understand the relationship between social dominance, personality and related physiological responses of adolescents upon hierarchy formation and after hierarchies were established. Heart rate and salivary cortisol were used as indices of physiological reactivity. Study one investigated the relationship between, social dominance rank, personality and social strategy usage. Study two extended study one with the addition of a reward allocation task and examined heart rate change. Study three examined social strategy use and salivary cortisol changes in response to a reward allocation task. Overall findings suggest that a combination of prosocial and coercive behaviors is seen in individuals that are perceived as socially dominant, especially in established hierarchies. Subordinates had a greater physiological response to the reward allocation task, but sex differences impacted these results. The current study provides a better understanding of physiological and behavioral profiles of socially prominent adolescents, and how this may differ by sex.
... However normal time-specific ranges for salivary cortisol levels in older children are not well established (Groschl et al.). Published norms for children are generally reported either by commercial laboratories or on a study-by-study basis, with small or unknown sample sizes, and generalized values for morning, noon and evening hours (Bruce et al., 2002;Donzella, Krueger, & Gunnar, 1999;Gunnar, Morison, Chisholm, & Schuder, 2001). Salivary cortisol has been used to measure infant's and children's stress response with inconsistent results. ...
... Large variations in baseline levels and the response magnitude of cortisol levels have been observed within and between individuals (Bruce, et al., 2002;Gunnar, Brodersen, Krueger, & Rigatuso, 1996). Cortisol levels may vary in response to a number of factors including genetic differences, age/developmental stage/pubertal stage, gender, weight, temperament, coping style, social competency, and pain sensitivity (Bartels, de Geus, Kirschbaum, Sluyter, & Boomsma, 2003;Chen et al., 2000;Davis, et al., 1999;Dettling, Gunnar, & Donzella, 1999;Kiess et al., 1995;Kudielka, et al., 2004). Researchers need to consider these extraneous variables and control for them when possible. ...
... Prior to inclusion in analysis, values outside an expected range were reviewed. Since definitive norms for children are not well established, an expected range of values for children's salivary cortisol was identified by reviewing the literature on studies with healthy children (often a control group) (Bruce et al., 2002;Davis et al., 1999;Groschl et al., 2003;Gunnar, Bruce et al., 2001;Gunnar, Morison et al., 2001;Gunnar & Vazquez, 2001;Kiess et al., 1995). Based on this review, a conservative expected range of values greater than .01mcg/dl ...
... stressors may provide further insight into potential effects of maltreatment and caregiver transitions. Although research with older children and adults has often employed laboratory stressors to measure immediate changes in cortisol levels, research with normative samples of young children has focused on changes in the diurnal cortisol rhythm in response to naturally occurring stressors, such as the start of school (Bruce, Davis, & Gunnar, 2002;Davis, Donzella, Krueger, & Gunnar, 1999;Quas, Murowchick, Bensadoun, & Boyce, 2002;Turner-Cobb, Rixon, & Jessop, 2008). This work provides evidence for a transient perturbation in the diurnal cortisol rhythm in response to the start of school, characterized by a steeper slope on the 1 st day of school compared to weekend days later in the year (Bruce et al., 2002). ...
... This steeper slope, which has been viewed as a healthy adaptation to a novel, significant event, resulted from higher morning and lower evening cortisol levels on the 1 st day of school. However, individual differences appear to play a large role, such that higher temperamental surgency (Bruce et al., 2002;Davis et al., 1999) and lower effortful control (Turner-Cobb et al., 2008) predict a steeper slope beyond the 1 st day of school, potentially indicative of greater reactivity or less recovery of the system. Although Gutteling, de Weerth, and Buitelaar (2008) documented effects of prenatal stress on the diurnal cortisol rhythm across the start of school, the effects of severe early life stress, such as maltreatment and caregiver transitions, remain unknown. ...
... Salivary cortisol-Caregivers were trained by study staff to collect saliva samples from their children over the course of the day at three time points: 1 week before the start of school (on 2 consecutive days), on the 1 st day of school, and on the 5 th day of school. Consistent with previous studies examining diurnal cortisol slope in response to the start of school (Bruce et al., 2002;Davis et al., 1999), these collections occurred thrice daily: morning (30 min after waking), afternoon (4:00 p.m.), and evening (30 min before bedtime). Procedures for saliva collection and cortisol assaying for this sample are detailed in . ...
... Over the past decade, there has been a proliferation of studies examining the relation between physiological systems and children's emotional development (Fox, 1994;Kagan, 1998). Negative emotionality/distress has been associated with elevated cortisol levels (Ahnert,, Gunnar, Lamb, & Barthel, 2004;Buchanan, Absi, & Lovallo, 1999;Buss et al., 2003;Davis, Donzella, Krueger, & Gunnar, 1999), and this relation has been found in infants (Lewis & Ramsay;van Bakel, & Riksen-Walraven, 2002) and children (Dettling, Parker, Lane, Sebanc, & Gunnar, 2000;Gunnar, Tout, de Haan, Pierce, et al., 1997). Similarly, high levels of neuroticism in adults are associated with increased salivary cortisol levels (Kunz-Ebrecht, Kirschbaum, Marmot, & Steptoe, 2004). ...
... BI has been associated with elevated cortisol levels (Kagan et al., 1987), as has shyness (de Haan, Gunnar, Trout, Hart, & Stransbury, 1998) and social wariness (Schmidt et al., 1997;Smider et al., 2002) in children. However, not all studies report such associations (Davis et al., 1999;Schmidt, Fox, Schulkin, & Gold, 1999). ...
... One study reported that parent-reported approach motivation of children between the ages of 3 to 5 years tended to be associated with decreases in cortisol across the assessment session (Blair, Peters, & Granger, 2004), which suggests that high PE may serve a protective function against HPA axis hyperactivity. In contrast, a few studies have reported a positive relation between constructs that overlap with PE, such as surgency, extraversion and impulsivity, and cortisol levels in children (e.g., Davis, Donzella, Krueger, & Gunnar, 1999). Although these constructs are related to PE, they also overlap with activity level and sociability, and it may be the level of arousal that is related to increases in cortisol rather than the expression of positive emotions (Pressman & Cohen, 2005). ...
... Caregivers collected saliva samples from their children on three consecutive days prior to the intervention (baseline) and on the first and fifth days of school. Consistent with previous studies examining diurnal cortisol slope in response to the start of school (Bruce et al., 2002;Davis, Donzella, Krueger, & Gunnar, 1999), these collections occurred thrice daily: morning (30 min after waking), afternoon (4:00 p.m.), and evening (30 min before bedtime). Children chewed a piece of Trident Original Flavor Gum (Cadbury Adams USA, Plano, TX) for 1 min to stimulate saliva. ...
... A. M. Graham et al. 10 adjustment 2 months into the school year. This finding is in line with prior research showing that variability in cortisol levels during the transition to school relate to individual differences in temperament, including shyness (Bruce et al., 2002), extroversion (Bruce et al., 2002;Davis et al., 1999;Turner-Cobb, Rixon, & Jessop, 2008), and negative affectivity (Davis et al., 1999), which have been shown to play important roles in school adjustment (Al-Hendawi, 2013). It is also broadly consistent with previous longitudinal research identifying prospective associations between children's HPA axis functioning and subsequent behaviors and school engagement during kindergarten (Smider et al., 2002). ...
... A. M. Graham et al. 10 adjustment 2 months into the school year. This finding is in line with prior research showing that variability in cortisol levels during the transition to school relate to individual differences in temperament, including shyness (Bruce et al., 2002), extroversion (Bruce et al., 2002;Davis et al., 1999;Turner-Cobb, Rixon, & Jessop, 2008), and negative affectivity (Davis et al., 1999), which have been shown to play important roles in school adjustment (Al-Hendawi, 2013). It is also broadly consistent with previous longitudinal research identifying prospective associations between children's HPA axis functioning and subsequent behaviors and school engagement during kindergarten (Smider et al., 2002). ...
Article
Full-text available
Maltreated children in foster care are at high risk for dysregulated hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis functioning and educational difficulties. The present study examined the effects of a short-term school readiness intervention on HPA axis functioning in response to the start of kindergarten, a critical transition marking entry to formal schooling, and whether altered HPA axis functioning influenced children's school adjustment. Compared to a foster care comparison group, children in the intervention group showed a steeper diurnal cortisol slope on the first day of school, a pattern previously observed among nonmaltreated children. A steeper first day of school diurnal cortisol slope predicted teacher ratings of better school adjustment (i.e., academic performance, appropriate classroom behaviors, and engagement in learning) in the fall of kindergarten. Furthermore, the children's HPA axis response to the start of school mediated the effect of the intervention on school adjustment. These findings support the potential for ameliorative effects of interventions targeting critical transitional periods, such as the transition of formal schooling. This school readiness intervention appears to influence stress neurobiology, which in turn facilitates positive engagement with the school environment and better school adjustment in children who have experienced significant early adversity.
... Infants and toddlers show a morning peak and evening nadir, with a flatter pattern of cortisol production from mid-morning to mid-afternoon (Larson, White, Cochran, Donzella, & Gunnar, 1998;Price, Close, & Fielding, 1983;Watamura, Donzella, Kertes, & Gunnar, 2004). By the preschool and early school period most children show the expected decrease across the middle of the day at home (Bruce, Davis, & Gunnar, 2002;Davis, Donzella, Krueger, & Gunnar, 1999;Dettling, Gunnar, & Donzella, 1999). ...
... In the one study that assessed infants and toddlers, infants did not show a consistent difference in cortisol production across the day between home and child care, whereas toddlers showed the rising pattern at child care which has been found repeatedly for preschool age children (Watamura et al., 2003). Similarly, in studies assessing older, school-aged children, no rise across the day has been found when children are in school or at a summer school-based child care program (Bruce et al., 2002;Davis et al., 1999;Dettling et al., 1999). Thus, the rising cortisol pattern across the child care day is seen for toddlers and preschoolers and suggests a context-dependent activation of the HPA-axis limited to the early childhood period that may have important consequences for the developing child. ...
Article
Previous work has found that many young children show different patterns of production of the hormone cortisol, which is sensitive to stress and challenge, on days when they are at child care compared with days when they are at home. At home, preschool age children typically show a decreasing pattern of cortisol production across the day which is the expected diurnal rhythm for this hormone. At child care many children show a rising pattern of cortisol production across the day. Lower child care quality has been associated with larger child care cortisol increases from morning to afternoon. The current study examined salivary cortisol at mid-morning, mid-afternoon, and evening on child care and weekend days in children attending the highest quality child care centers. Child-level classroom quality assessments were obtained using the Modified-Observational Rating of the Caregiving Environment. The rising pattern across the child care day was replicated, although in a smaller proportion of the children than previously reported. Variation in the quality of the child's niche or microclimate predicted these cortisol increases. When children returned home from child care, cortisol levels returned to levels observed on non-child care days even for children who showed the rising cortisol pattern during child care.
... But in addition to the characteristics of the individual's specific development phase, childhood also has its own particular traits, in relation to both the stressors to which children are exposed and to the origin of disturbances in their health. Several studies carried out with children have analyzed different stressful events with which these individuals are continuously forced to cope, both in the family context (Essex et al., 2002;Flinn et al., 1996) and at school (Davis et al., 1999;Donzella et al., 2000;Vermeer and van Ijzendoorn, 2006). Some other studies have focused on the specific factors that may generate stress and affect the health of the individuals concerned. ...
... In a series of studies carried out with preschool children, which measured cortisol levels at the beginning of the school year and during other comparable circumstances (at home, well into the school year or at weekends), some authors found that individuals more actively involved in vying for status in the group showed greater cortisol increases. This was found to be true for both children (Davis et al., 1999;Gunnar et al., 1997) and adults (Hellhammer et al., 1997). ...
Article
Full-text available
This study assesses the relationships between social context (family and inter-peer context), stress, and illness in 5-6-year-old children. To this end, data were collected on spontaneous social interpeer behavior; families provided data on stress, anxiety, and parental acceptance-rejection; and the children's pediatricians provided data relative to their health. Data on stress-related hormones (cortisol) were collected using saliva samples. The results revealed that none of the variables examined were significantly related to illness development in the subjects in the sample group. Cortisol levels, however, were positively associated with a record of chronic or congenital illnesses, the manifestation of behaviors related to the search for leadership status in the group and the presence of stressful events in the family environment. Despite finding no relationship between children's level of adrenocortical activity and the contracting or contingent development of diseases, we did find that chronic/congenital diseases may constitute a source of early stress in childhood. Certain conditions of uncertainty in the social context (family and interpeer) also seem to constitute different sources of stress. Am. J. Hum. Biol., 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
... Researchers use tests of cortisol levels to determine the level of stress an individual is experiencing. Higher levels are associated with behavioral inhibition or withdrawal (Davis, Donzella, Krueger, & Gunnar, 1999;. Stress during pregnancy is related to higher cortisol levels and greater cortisol reactivity among adults . ...
... Researchers use tests of cortisol levels to determine the level of stress an individual is experiencing. Higher levels are associated with behavioral inhibition or withdrawal (Davis Donzella, Krueger, & Gunnar, 1999;. Stress during pregnancy is related to higher cortisol levels and greater cortisol reactivity among adults . ...
Article
Retention of college students is a high priority for universities across the country. To successfully overcome difficulties in college, students need to have effective behavioral skills to deal with ongoing challenges. Effective self-regulation allows students to better control their emotional, cognitive, and behavioral processes. Help seeking is an important self-regulatory behavioral strategy that can be used when faced with either emotional or academic difficulties.yHowever, gender differences have been shown in male and female students' willingness to seek help for psychological issues. In addition, high school performance and standardized test scores which have generally been shown to be strong predictors of retention and academic performance do not fully explain the variance in students' success rate.yThis study examines the help seeking attitudes that male engineering students hold towards both academic and psychological help seeking and how gender role conflict, depression, and two personality traits, neuroticism and extroversion affect these attitudes and impact academic performance.
... As a result, they are more prone to fearfulness and anxiety and compensate such hyper-arousal with withdrawal and avoidance. Regarding HPA axis functioning, higher levels of cortisol have been found to be related to withdrawn temperament, inhibited characteristics, and internalizing emotion (Davis, Donzella, Krueger, & Gunnar, 1999;Kagan, Reznick, & Snidman, 1988;Schmidt et al., 1997;Smider et al., 2002). A recent meta-analysis found a tendency for depressed children to have higher basal cortisol levels than non-depressed controls (Lopez-Duran, Kovacs, & George, 2009). ...
... Regarding HPA axis functioning, higher levels of cortisol have been found to be related to withdrawn temperament, inhibited characteristics, and internalizing emotion (Davis, Donzella, Krueger, & Gunnar, 1999;Kagan, Reznick, & Snidman, 1988;Schmidt et al., 1997;Smider et al., 2002). A recent meta-analysis found a tendency for depressed children to have higher basal cortisol levels than non-depressed controls (Lopez-Duran, Kovacs, & George, 2009). ...
Article
Understanding childhood externalizing problems is informative in designing interventions and reducing crime in adulthood because childhood aggression is one of the best predictors for later antisocial behavior. Childhood externalizing problems are typically studied with internalizing problems (e.g., anxiety) given their consistent correlation and seemingly opposite behavior manifestations. This dissertation examined both spectrums of behavior problems to advance our etiological understanding. Adversity and stress have been a focus in criminology research but few studies have incorporated stress physiology, the biological underpinning of how individuals deal with adversity. This dissertation comprised three papers testing the linkage of stress physiology to behavior problems. I examined how the two components of the stress system, namely the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the autonomic nervous system (ANS), interact with each other, and together interact with harsh discipline in influencing externalizing and internalizing problems. Data were drawn from a community sample of 11-12 year old children (N = 446). Saliva samples were collected in the initial assessment and later assayed for cortisol (HPA) and salivary alpha-amylase (sAA; ANS). Participants and their caregivers completed questionnaires for child behavior problems initially, 3, 6, and 12 months later. Paper 1 revealed that cortisol was negatively associated with externalizing and internalizing problems but only at low levels of sAA. Paper 2 built on Paper 1 by including harsh discipline as an environmental factor and testing how the combined effect of cortisol and sAA contributed to our understanding of the heterogeneous effect of harsh discipline on behavior problems. Results showed that asymmetry in cortisol and sAA may indicate biological susceptibility to the effect of harsh discipline to develop both externalizing and internalizing problems among boys. Given the similar stress physiological patterns shown in Paper 1 and 2 for externalizing and internalizing problems, Paper 3 further explored and found that the interplay of cortisol and sAA differentiated co-occurrence of behavior problems from other developmental trajectories of behavior problems over a year. Together these findings underscore the significance of stress physiology in behavior problems. Theoretical implications in relation to differential susceptibility hypothesis and practical implications for treatment evaluation and research are discussed.
... Two studies were conducted examining temperament in relationship to children's cortisol response to the social stressor of starting a new school year. In both studies, surgency and sensation seeking were associated with the slope of cortisol on day five [21,22]. In addition, shyness was associated with evening cortisol on day five [21] (1st grade). ...
... Animal literature has also shown that HPA activity and resulting health outcomes may be impacted by status. Some studies have shown that dominant individuals show stronger HPA reactivity to social situations [1,22,35,36], while others show that subordinate individuals display a stronger response [37][38][39] and have resulting negative health outcomes [40]. Human studies have shown women with reported higher subjective social status had better nutrition habits and women with lower subjective social status had higher anxiety, pessimism, stress, and blood pressure [41]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background. This exploratory study uses a multimethod approach to examine the relationship between social strategy usage and overall health in preschool children. Methods. Children's temperament, social strategies, and health assessments were obtained via reported behavior from parents and teachers. In addition, children's use of prosocial and coercive strategies was observed and recorded via one-way windows in the preschool facility. Results. Results revealed that the temperament characteristic of effortful control was related to the observed use of coercive strategies and that coercive strategies were not observed by teachers, who viewed these children as primarily prosocial. The reported use of both coercive and prosocial strategies was also related to decrease in illness. Conclusion. These findings in relation to previous work suggest that using both prosocial and coercive strategies can elevate status as well as maintain health even in young children.
... Interestingly, most studies assessing the association between cortisol levels and the development of disruptive behaviors in preschoolers report a positive association between cortisol and some psychological correlates of externalizing behaviors ((e.g., negative affect, aggression, difficult or instable temperament, etc., E. P. Davis, Donzella, Krueger, & Gunnar, 1999;de Haan, Gunnar, Tout, Hart, & Stansbury, 1998;Gunnar, Tout, de Haan, Pierce, & Stansbury, 1997). For example, Dettling, Gunnar and Donzella (1999) reported a positive association between cortisol levels secreted during the day, negative affect and aggression in preschoolers. ...
... Consequently, an inverted U shape relationship between cortisol and social functioning may best characterize this association in childhood (E. P. Davis et al., 1999) and adulthood (McEwen, 2003). ...
Article
The allostatic load model proposed by McEwen and Stellar refers to the wear and tear that the body experiences due to the repeated use of adaptive responses to stress, as well as the inefficient turning on or shutting off of these responses. The release of stress hormones is made possible through activation of a neuroendocrine axis named the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. This chapter highlights that individual differences in response to relative stressors may be due to differences in past experiences, learning, or genetic or cognitive processes. It summarizes data and concepts pertaining to the potential pathways by which allostatic load can develop in children facing adversities. The chapter explains how the sensitization to threat affects perceptual and memory processes in abused children. It points out that the mechanism of adaptation may be closely related to the cognitive interpretation given to adverse events in order to adapt to the various challenges.
... Świadomość funkcji emocji i znajomość strategii ich regulacji.W tej kategorii warto zwrócić uwagę na zależność samopoczucia muzyka od aktualnego poziomu pobudzenia (Wilson, 1997;Martens, Burton, Vealey, Bump i Smith, 1990); posiadanych przez niego kompetencji emocjonalnych (Salovey, Mayer, 1990za: Mayer, Salovey, 1999Marin, Bhattacharya, 2013); umiejętności akceptacji somatycznych i poznawczych objawów stresu i związanym z tym poczuciem kontroli (Davis, Donzella, Krueger i Gunnar, 1999;Gill, Murphy i Rickard, 2006). Szczególnei ważne jest dobre rozpoznanie własnych optymalnych emocji (Hanin, 2007), a także zauważenie, że trema jest emocjązłożoną (Kaleńska-Rodzaj, 2014a, 2016 , oraz Wilsona, 1994, /2000. ...
... Z badań wynika, że uzyskane w ten sposób poczucie kontroli obniża intensywność przeżywania lęku somatycznego i poznawczego (Gill, Murphy i Richard, 2006).Wyniki innych badań wskazują na to, że taki sposób interpretacji objawów lęku (akceptacja) zwiększających poczucie kontroli, wpływa na obniżenie się wydzielania tzw. "hormonów stresu"kortyzolu i katecholamin (Davis, Donzella, Krueger i Gunnar, 1999). ...
Chapter
W tekście dokonano porównania sposobów definiowania zjawiska tremy na tle innych zjawisk lękowych (lęku społecznego, fobii społecznej). Przedstawiono objawy tremy i obszerną definicję sporządzoną przez wybitną badaczkę tremy – Dianę Kenny. Dokonano przeglądu badań nad czynnikami zwiększającymi podatność na tremę: behawioralnymi, poznawczo-emocjonalnymi, osobowościowymi i sytuacyjnymi. Przedstawione definicje i uwarunkowania tremy stanowią dobrą podstawę teoretyczną do przeprowadzenia działań diagnostycznych. Autorka podkreśla także konieczność psychologicznego przygotowania muzyka do występu publicznego jako niezbędny warunek poprzedzający publiczną prezentację dokonań.
... We found no relations between correlates of cognitive control or temperament on cortisol and sAA responses. This is only partly in line with prior studies on inhibitory control and stress responses (Spinrad et al. 2009) or on the role of temperament factors (Davis et al. 1999;Donzella et al. 2000;Kryski et al. 2011;Talge et al. 2008), which might be due to differences in measurements. Davis et al. (1999) for example, used the Children's Behavior Questionnaire (CBQ; Ahadi, Rothbart and Ye 1993) to assess child`s temperament which includes more subscales than the EAS (Buss and Plomin 1984) used in our study, summing up to three different constructs (surgency or extroversion, negative affectivity and effortful or attentional control). ...
... This is only partly in line with prior studies on inhibitory control and stress responses (Spinrad et al. 2009) or on the role of temperament factors (Davis et al. 1999;Donzella et al. 2000;Kryski et al. 2011;Talge et al. 2008), which might be due to differences in measurements. Davis et al. (1999) for example, used the Children's Behavior Questionnaire (CBQ; Ahadi, Rothbart and Ye 1993) to assess child`s temperament which includes more subscales than the EAS (Buss and Plomin 1984) used in our study, summing up to three different constructs (surgency or extroversion, negative affectivity and effortful or attentional control). Furthermore, Willoughby, Wirth and Blair (2011) demonstrated the usefulness of a combination of tests for working memory, inhibitory control and attention shifting to assess executive functioning, whereas motor inhibition was the only component in our study. ...
Article
Full-text available
Acute stress response measures serve as an indicator of physiological functioning, but have previously led to contradictory results in young children due to age-related cortisol hypo-responsivity and methodological inconsistencies in assessment. The aim of this study was to investigate stress responses during a validated age-adapted socio-evaluative stress task in children aged 2-6 years in a child care environment and to detect socio-demographic, task- and child-related characteristics of stress responses. Stress responses were assessed in 323 children for salivary cortisol and salivary alpha amylase (sAA), and in 328 children for changes in heart rate variability (HRV). These data were then associated with socio-demographic (e.g. SES), task-related (e.g. task length) and child-related characteristics (e.g. self-regulation) of stress responses using multilevel models. Analyses revealed elevated sympathetic reactivity (sAA: Coeff=0.053, p=0.004) and reduced HRV (Coeff=-0.465, p<0.001), but no hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) response (Coeff=0.017, p=0.08) during the stress task. Child's age (Coeff=-5.82, p<0.001) and movement during the task (Coeff=-0.17, p=0.015) were associated with acute cortisol release, while diurnal sAA was associated with acute sAA release (Coeff=0.24, p<0.001). Age (Coeff=-0.15, p=0.006) and duration of the task (Coeff=0.13, p=0.015) were further associated with change of HRV under acute stress condition. Children showed inconsistent stress responses which contradicts the assumption of a parallel activation of both stress systems in a valid stress task for young children and might be explained by a pre-arousal to the task of young children in a child care setting. Further results confirm that child- and task-related conditions need to be considered when assessing stress responses in these young children.
... The experimental protocol is schematized inFigure 1. Children were seen individually across an entire ordinary school day. School days were chosen because children's daily routines (i.e., sleep, wake, and mealtimes) have been found to be much more regular than on weekend days (Davis et al., 1999). In addition, the school day appeared to provide the most ecologically valid, relatively controlled setting in which the ERP technique could be coordinated with repeated collection of saliva to evaluate cortisol patterns across the day as well as cortisol responses to the ERP task. ...
Article
Full-text available
Event-related potentials (ERPs) and other electroencephalographic (EEG) evidence show that frontal brain areas of higher and lower socioeconomic status (SES) children are recruited differently during selective attention tasks. We assessed whether multiple variables related to self-regulation (perceived mental effort) emotional states (e.g., anxiety, stress, etc.) and motivational states (e.g., boredom, engagement, etc.) may co-occur or interact with frontal attentional processing probed in two matched-samples of fourteen lower-SES and higher-SES adolescents. ERP and EEG activation were measured during a task probing selective attention to sequences of tones. Pre- and post-task salivary cortisol and self-reported emotional states were also measured. At similar performance level, the higher-SES group showed a greater ERP differentiation between attended (relevant) and unattended (irrelevant) tones than the lower-SES group. EEG power analysis revealed a cross-over interaction, specifically, lower-SES adolescents showed significantly higher theta power when ignoring rather than attending to tones, whereas, higher-SES adolescents showed the opposite pattern. Significant theta asymmetry differences were also found at midfrontal electrodes indicating left hypo-activity in lower-SES adolescents. The attended vs. unattended difference in right midfrontal theta increased with individual SES rank, and (independently from SES) with lower cortisol task reactivity and higher boredom. Results suggest lower-SES children used additional compensatory resources to monitor/control response inhibition to distracters, perceiving also more mental effort, as compared to higher-SES counterparts. Nevertheless, stress, boredom and other task-related perceived states were unrelated to SES. Ruling out presumed confounds, this study confirms the midfrontal mechanisms responsible for the SES effects on selective attention reported previously and here reflect genuine cognitive differences.
... In the absence of acute stress, cortisol follows a circadian rhythm. In other words, the highest values are typically seen 30 minutes after awakening (morning peak), followed first by a sharp decline and then by a more gradual decline throughout the day, ending at an evening nadir (Price, Close, and Fielding 1983;Larson et al. 1998;Davis et al. 1999;Dettling, Gunnar, and Donzella 1999;Bruce, Davis, and Gunnar 2002;Watamura et al. 2004). Elevated or suppressed cortisol levels across the day indicate unbalanced regulation of stress; an atypical diurnal pattern is usually considered as a sign of developmental risk (Gunnar and Vazquez 2006). ...
Article
Full-text available
A young child's stress-sensitive neurobiological system is immature and open to being shaped by experience. When children enter preschool, external demands on them to adjust are different from the demands they experience at day care. In Finland, the last year before children transfer to the comprehensive school is called preschool. The preschool year is far more academically demanding than earlier day care years, emphasizing school-like activities along with age-appropriate social and cognitive challenges. The first aim of the present study was to study whether the preschool year (six-year-old children) has an effect on the children's cortisol reactivity. To examine the changes in stress regulation, cortisol reactivity was investigated both in the autumn and in the spring. The second aim of the study was to explore whether demographic factors, temperament and the quality of preschool environment have an effect on the daily variation of the cortisol level among the participants of the study. Five day care centres in metropolitan Helsinki, Finland, participated in this study and 91 six-year-old preschool children served as participants. Our results showed that the children displayed typical cortisol reactivity during the autumn as expected, whereas their cortisol values were significantly higher in the spring. The autumn measurements revealed a significant relationship between the cortisol effects and the temperament characteristics of sadness, anger/frustration and perceptual sensitivity. These characteristics were not as evident when measured during the spring. Additionally, the results indicated that quality of learning environment affects changes in children's cortisol reactivity.
... Children were seen individually across an entire ordinary school day. School days were chosen because children's daily routines (i.e., sleep, wake, and mealtimes) have been found to be much more regular than on weekend days (Davis et al., 1999). In addition, the school day appeared to provide the most ecologically valid, relatively controlled setting in which the ERP technique could be coordinated with repeated collection of saliva to evaluate cortisol patterns across the day as well as cortisol responses to the ERP task. ...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract Weinvestigated,the relationships between ,socioeconomic status (SES) and the neural correlates of selective attention bycomparing,event-related potentials (ERPs) in low- and high-SES preadolescents ,during ,an auditory ,selective attention task. Salivary cortisol levels were also determined before,and ,after the task. ERP difference waveforms between attended and unattended auditory stimuli (Nd, difference negativity) were ,significant in the ,high-SES group but not in the low-SES group. However, post-ERP
... Developmental transitions serve as natural experiments that unmask latent individual or family-level differences in both capacity to adapt and consequent biobehavioral functioning (Halfon & Hochstein, 2002). Child development researchers have demonstrated repeatedly that individual differences in responses to kindergarten transition predict subsequent child well-being (e.g., Davis et al., 1999; Ladd & Burgess, 2001; Wildenger et al., 2008). Differential mental, behavioral, or physical health risk among adults similarly may be unmasked or induced during life-changing transitions such as marriage, having a child, entering the workforce, caring for a seriously ill child or parent, or retiring (Cox & Paley, 1997; Dura & Kiecolt-Glaser, 1991; Halfon & Hochstein, 2002). ...
Article
This study tested associations among parenting stress prior to a child’s kindergarten entry, the sustainability of family routines, and biomarkers of stress among parents following the kindergarten transition. Parents (N = 51) with higher prekindergarten scores on the Parenting Stress Index Short Form reported lower Family Routines Inventory scores following school entry relative to their baseline. Declining family routines, in turn, were associated following kindergarten entry with greater 5-day mean and variance in evening cortisol, and higher C-reactive protein, an inflammatory mediator. However, only the cortisol findings remained significant controlling for baseline physiology. These findings support a family systems, social-ecological approach to life course development, wherein even mild challenges posed by children’s normative transitions may reveal differences in parents’ biobehavioral functioning.
... This factor also includes impulsivity, approach to novelty, activity level, and sensation seeking (high pleasure). Surgent or exuberant children, as Fox, Henderson, Rubin, Calkins, and Schmidt (2001) call them, have been found at times to have elevated cortisol (Davis, Donzella, Krueger, & Gunnar, 1999;Gunnar et al., 1997). Previously, we (Gunnar, 1994) hypothesized that this might be because surgent, exuberant children are likely to get themselves into stressful encounters with peers and adults. ...
Article
In this study, we examined a model that describes both direct and indirect pathways between children's temperament and activity of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis when children are in peer-group settings. We hypothesize that in peer-group settings both shy, inhibited and exuberant, undercontrolled children would exhibit higher cortisol levels, but these associations would operate through different pathways. Sociometric measures of peer rejection, salivary cortisol, and teacher reports of temperament were collected on 82 preschoolers. Children who were rejected by classmates had higher cortisol levels than the other children. The combination of Surgency and Poor Effortful Control (Effortful Control, reverse scored) was associated with elevated cortisol through a pathway mediated by aggressive interactions with peers and peer rejection. With the indirect path explained, the combination of Surgency and Poor Effortful Control also was directly and negatively associated with classroom cortisol levels. These results help explain why temperament associations with HPA activity have been variable and difficult to discern when children are assessed in peer-group contexts. In these contexts, both direct and indirect pathways between temperament and cortisol need to be examined. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Dev Psychobiol 43: 343–358, 2003.
... teit wordt voornamelijk gemeten tijdens de slaap). En zowel bij kinderen als volwassenen met een energieke persoonlijkheid worden soms hogere cortisolniveau's of responsen gevonden (interessant genoeg worden ook in deze studies vaak negatieve relaties gevonden tussen een angstige persoonlijkheid en cortisol (hoe angstiger, hoe lager cortisol; bijv. Davis et al., 1999; LeBlanc & Ducharme, 2005; Oswald et al., 2006). Dat strookt met het gegeven dat cortisol in de hersenen vooral dopaminerge activiteit stimuleert (Dalman et al., 2006). Dopamine is een modulator van energetisch gedrag en van een waargenomen kosten–baten (effort – reward) balans (Salamone et al., 1999; Tops et al., 2004; Walton et al., 20 ...
Article
Full-text available
Bij toenemende stress of angst wordt vaak meer cortisol in de bloedbaan gebracht. Cortisol wordt daarom wel een stresshormoon genoemd. Wij betogen dat de reactiviteit en effecten van cortisol niet alleen in het kader van angst gezien moeten worden, maar in relatie tot de overkoepelende functie van dit hormoon in de regulatie en mobilisatie van fysiologische middelen zoals glucose. Ook leggen we uit dat dit niet tegenstrijdig is met een belangrijke rol van cortisol in stressreacties, en bijvoorbeeld in het ontstaan of de instandhouding van sociale angst. Toch is het belangrijk bij onderzoek naar cortisol de overkoepelende functie van dit hormoon, namelijk regulatie en mobilisatie van fysiologische middelen, in het achterhoofd te houden.
... If Louise had perceived the music performance as a stressor that was controllable, then the stress hormones cortisol and catecholamine, which stimulate anxious responding, would not have been released (Davis et al., 1999). Even with high anxiety, if Louise also had high self-confidence, she would be more likely to experience anxiety as facilitative, regardless of performance outcome (Hanton, Mellalieu, & Hall, 2004;Jones, Hanton, & Swain, 1994). ...
Chapter
Full-text available
Young developing musicians are often exposed to a variety of performance experiences, from early informal experiences performing in front of family members, to performing with their school ensemble, to formal examinations from external examination bodies. For each student, these types of opportunities can trigger a range of emotions, thoughts, behaviours and somatic responses which may or may not benefit their overall musical development. Among the most debilitating, but also potentially exhilarating are the emotions experienced when performing music for others. This chapter explores the context of child and adolescent music performance anxiety, outlining contributing factors, evidence-based assessments and interventions. It includes a number of psychological strategies for managing anxiety and building positive emotions towards performing which can be integrated into educational practice to build confidence whilst supporting the achievement of musical excellence.
... The problem of children experiencing stress as a result of poorly designed physical environments is noted in the literature (Davis, Donzella, Krueger & Gunnar, 1999; Evans, 2003 Evans, , 2006 Zimmerman & Stansbury, 2004). Young children who are under stress may exhibit fearful or anxious behaviors or display exuberant and undercontrolled behaviors (Adams, Klimes-Dougan & Gunnar, 2007). ...
Thesis
Full-text available
The near physical environment is believed to be an integral component in creating quality learning and classroom environments for young children. Free-choice play periods during preschool daily curriculums are a widesprea0d component of preschool early childhood education. Research has demonstrated that the presence of houseplants may be a contributor to human ability to self-regulate their attention. Behind their popularity as environmental enhancements seems to be a general belief that the emotional experience of viewing greenery will help foster a more restorative environment. Educational settings of almost every size employ houseplants in both formal and informal settings and spend reasonable financial and person-hour effort to maintain these elements. Despite their ubiquitous nature, the educational value of houseplants has not been well documented. The problem of children experiencing stress and directed attention fatigue familiar to adults (e.g. irritability, difficulty concentrating and increased proneness for mistakes), may be compounded by over- or under-stimulating classroom designs and layouts. The mechanism behind directed attention is a fragile but vital means for
... Evidence suggestive of a shared underlying reactivity component between negativity and surgency is growing. Studies that have addressed the connection between surgency and physiological reactivity have paralleled those that have emerged between negativity and physiological reactivity, with both negativity and surgency predicting heightened physiological reactivity (Davis, Donzella, Krueger, & Gunnar, 1999;Donzella, Gunnar, Krueger, & Alwin, 2000). Moreover, negativity and surgency have similarly been implicated as risk factors for externalizing behavior problems (Martel, Gremillion, & Roberts, 2012). ...
Article
The early postpartum period lays important groundwork for later self-regulation as infants’ dispositional traits interact with caregivers’ co-regulatory behaviors to produce the earliest forms of self-regulation. Although emerging literature suggests that fetal exposure to maternal stress may be integral in determining child self-regulatory capacity, the complex pathways that characterize these early developmental processes remain unclear. The current study considers these complex, transactional processes in a low income, Mexican American sample. Data were collected from 295 Mexican American infants and their mothers during prenatal, 6- and 12-week postpartum home interviews. Mother reports of stress were obtained prenatally, and mother reports of infant temperament were obtained at 6 weeks. Observer ratings of maternal sensitivity and infant regulatory behaviors were obtained at the 6- and 12-week time points. Study results indicate that prenatal stress predicts higher levels of infant negativity and surgency, both of which directly or interactively predict later engagement in regulatory behaviors. Unexpectedly, prenatal stress also predicted more engagement in orienting, but not self-comforting behaviors. Advancing understandings about the nature of these developmental pathways may have significant implications for targets of early intervention in this high risk population.
... Furthermore, a body of evidence spanning many diverse literatures supports the assertion that the ability of specific stressor classes to induce HPA activity is moderated by a number of individual difference variables that potentiate the effects of personally relevant challenges. For instance, extraversion (Davis et al., 1999;Oswald et al., 2004), chronic perceptions of sexism (Townsend et al., 2011), callous-unemotional traits (Shirtcliff et al., 2009), and clinical depression and anxiety (Young at al., 2000; are just a few of the individual difference variables which have been implicated in the modification of the stress response, enhancing or dampening HPA function depending on the personal relevance of the stressor in question. ...
Article
Full-text available
The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis plays a key role in the physiological response to stress, preparing the organism for appropriate action. While some research has examined universally relevant threats, other research has suggested that individual differences may moderate the relationship between stress and cortisol release, such that some individuals exhibit modified reactivity to personally relevant stressors or challenges. In the present study we investigated whether one individual difference—the implicit need for achievement—moderates the effect of motive-relevant challenge on salivary cortisol. Participants’ salivary cortisol and felt affect were measured before and after engagement in an achievement task. In the positive- and no-feedback conditions, individuals high in implicit achievement motiveation demonstrated increased cortisol response to the task, whereas in the negative feedback condition, individuals high in implicit achievement motivation demonstrated a dampened cortisol response. Furthermore, changes in cortisol were accompanied by changes in felt affect in the same direction, specifically hedonic tone. These results suggest that the HPA axis also responds to non-social-evaluative challenge in a personality-contingent manner.
... Within the classroom context, one could measure individual differences in salivary cortisol or alpha-amylase levels, vagal tone, or blood pressure-all indicators of a stress response. Emerging re-search suggests differences in salivary cortisol across temperamental profiles for elementary school children on the first day of school versus later school days and weekends-suggesting change is more stressful for some children than others (Davis, Donzella, Krueger, & Gunnar, 1999). Moreover, salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase levels were lower for children placed in classrooms with higher mean levels of emotional support (Hatfield, Hestenes, Kintner-Duffy, & O'Brien, 2013). ...
Article
Full-text available
Teachers' social interactions with children are a salient aspect of the classroom environment. An emerging line of research suggests teachers' emotional support consistency is an important predictor of children's academic and social outcomes. Yet individual differences determine the contribution of classroom affordances to children's adjustment. Adaptability describes a child's propensity to perceive and respond to changes in the social environment. Less adaptable children experience change as stressful and tend to be at risk for poor classroom functioning, perhaps more so in classrooms characterized by low levels of emotional support consistency. Multigroup analyses were performed in a structural equation modeling framework to assess the contribution of adaptability assessed in infancy to third-grade achievement and social skills in low- and high-consistency classrooms. Observations of 959 children in 805 third-grade classrooms, direct child assessment, and teacher ratings revealed that adaptability predicted a range of social skill and achievement measures in third-grade classrooms that offered low levels of emotional support consistency. Findings are situated in a goodness-of-fit model.
... Counterintuitively, surgent or exuberant children have been found at times to have elevated cortisol levels (Davis, Donzella, Krueger, & Gunnar, 1999;Gunnar, Tout, de Haan, Pierce, & Stansbury, 1997). ...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction: Variance in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis reactivity is considered to be one of the sources of differences in infant temperament. The cortisol enters into interactions with dopamine and serotonin, so it is expected that polymorphisms in genes coding monoamine metabolism influence both HPA axis reactivity and temperament. Methods: We therefore explore the relationship among 5-HTTLPR S/L, MAOA H/L, and COMT Val158Met polymorphisms, the stress reaction of newborn infants after a heel stick blood draw (measured by determining salivary cortisol at three time points), and temperament assessed at the age of 3 months using Rothbart's Infant Behavior Questionnaire-Revised (IBQ-R) with a sample of 84 infants. Results: The decrease in the salivary cortisol correlated with nine primary scales and all three secondary scales of IBQ-R. Children with a greater cortisol decrease were assessed as less susceptible to negative emotions, more extraverted, and more regulated. The polymorphisms that were observed were related both to the course of the stress reaction and to temperament. The 5-HTTLPR S allele was connected to higher scores for Negative Emotionality and lower scores for Orienting/Regulatory Capacity. The presence of the MAOA L allele predisposed its carriers to higher scores for Negative Emotionality, lower scores for Orienting/Regulatory Capacity, and a lower decrease in cortisol. The Met allele of COMT Val158Met polymorphism was connected to a higher Positive Affectivity/Surgency and Orienting/Regulatory Capacity and a greater cortisol decrease. Conclusions: Contrary to previous studies referring mainly basal cortisol and its increase, the results of our study emphasize the importance of cortisol elimination in infant temperament. Another interesting finding was a higher cortisol increase, higher Distress to Limitations, Negative Emotionality, and Approach in MAOA LL homozygotes which are traditionally understood as more vulnerable toward early stress in developing later externalizing behavior.
... A large number of studies have found elevated cortisol in socially inhibited youth (Dettling, Gunnar, & Donzella, 1999;Schmidt et al., 1997); this effect appears in infancy and is maintained relatively stable throughout development (Kagan et al., 1988;Kagan, Reznick, & Snidman, 1987). However, other work shows that extroverted behaviors are associated with elevated cortisol secretion during certain social situations, such as at the beginning of the school year, before friend groups have been established (Davis et al., 1999;Gunnar et al., 1997). These differences may stem from the timing of cortisol collection (stress-induced vs. tonic), which reflects different brain processes. ...
Chapter
Neuroendocrine systems play a critical role in modulating biological, cognitive, and affective responses to stress. Not surprisingly, variability in neuroendocrine functioning, and particularly the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, has been extensively linked to stress-related mental health disorders. This chapter examines the potential mechanisms that underlie this link and the conceptual challenges that must be addressed in order to advance a more cohesive neuroendocrine model of stress-related psychopathology. To this end, the chapter first explores the various sources of variability in neuroendocrine responses to stress, including individual differences in neural networks and neuroendocrine systems, as well as contextual factors, such as characteristics of the stressors and personality traits. The chapter then examines potential proximal and distal mechanisms that link variability in neuroendocrine functioning to the risk for onset, phenomenology, and course of stress-related disorders, including depression and posttraumatic stress disorder.
... As a result, they are more prone to fearfulness and anxiety and compensate such hyper-arousal with withdrawal and avoidance, but findings are again mixed. Regarding HPA axis functioning, higher levels of cortisol have been found to be related to withdrawn temperament, inhibited characteristics, and internalizing emotion (Davis, Donzella, Krueger, & Gunnar, 1999;Kagan, Reznick, & Snidman, 1988;Schmidt et al., 1997;Smider et al., 2002). A recent meta-analysis found a tendency for depressed children to have higher basal cortisol levels than non-depressed controls (Lopez-Duran, Kovacs, & George, 2009). ...
Article
The combined effects of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity and autonomic nervous system (ANS) arousal were examined on developmental trajectories of children's comorbid internalizing and externalizing problems. Participants were 394 urban dwelling, primarily African American, youth (50% male, age 11-12 years). Parent-reported child behavior problems were obtained initially, 3, 6, and 12 months later. Saliva samples (collected at the initial assessment) were assayed for cortisol (HPA) and alpha-amylase (ANS). Cross-domain latent class growth analysis identified a stable comorbid trajectory and four other distinct short-term developmental trajectories of internalizing and externalizing behavior problems. ANS arousal was negatively associated with the probability of stable comorbidity, but only among youth who also had high levels of HPA axis activity. Findings underscore the predictive value of the interaction of HPA axis activity and ANS arousal in differentiating children with stable comorbidity and have important implications for etiological theories and treatment outcome research. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Dev Psychobiol 9999: 1-13, 2015.
... The goal of the present study was to examine two forms of self-regulation (behavioral and physiological) to explore individual differences in performance during an observed IC task in typically developing preschool aged children, controlling for children's sex. Sex is an important covariate to consider when exploring IC, as females typically have better IC than males (Ahadi, Rothbart, & Ye, 1993;Davis, Donzella, Krueger, & Gunnar, 1999;Else-Quest, Hyde, Goldsmith, & Van Hulle, 2006;Kochanska et al., 2000). To address this objective, children's RSA was collected during a baseline period, as well as during the Selective Attention Task (SAT; physiological self-regulation). ...
Article
Although inhibitory control (IC) is associated with children's positive adjustment, we know relatively little about factors underlying its development. We examined whether baseline and on‐task respiratory sinus arrhythmia [(RSA); a physiological measure of self‐regulation] and private speech (a behavioral measure of self‐regulation) interacted to confer differences on directly observed IC in 52 typically developing 4‐year olds. We found that baseline RSA moderated the association between private speech and IC, such that private speech positively predicted IC in children with relatively higher baseline RSA, but was unrelated to IC in children with relatively lower RSA. We also found that children with a concordant physiological‐behavioral pattern (i.e., high RSA and high private speech; low RSA and low private speech) had higher IC, higher effortful control, and lower negative emotionality than those with a discordant physiological‐behavioral pattern (i.e., high RSA and low private speech; low RSA and high private speech). Individual differences in physiological and behavioral self‐regulation indices may represent distinct regulation pathways that interact to confer differences in IC during the preschool years.
... Perceived behavioral control Davis, Donzella, Krueger, and Gunnar (1999) range: 18-40 mo 43% of saliva samples missing: parents or caregivers forgot to collect the saliva or the child refused to cooperate (22%), the samples did not contain enough saliva for analysis (20%), or samples were not within the detection limit for cortisol (0.8%). Children with complete cortisol data did not differ with respect to age, gender, or temperament. ...
Article
Salivary cortisol is considered to be a safe and noninvasive measure of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis functioning, and is a commonly measured biomarker of the human stress response in pediatric research. However, cortisol is highly variable and sensitive to a wide range of factors, creating a challenge for reliable salivary cortisol collection in the community setting. Furthermore, the acceptability of salivary cortisol collection in community samples of children is largely unknown. The purpose of this integrative review was to investigate current evidence on the acceptability and feasibility of salivary cortisol collection in community samples of children. In an analysis framed by the Theory of Planned Behavior, data extracted from 31 studies revealed six categories of psychosocial influences on acceptability and feasibility: uncertainty and misconceptions, cultural and ethnic values, family rules and values, difficulty following protocols and procedures, burden of multiple samples, and child refusal or resistance. Further research is required to fully understand the factors that influence acceptability and feasibility of salivary cortisol collection in community samples of children. Understanding individual, family, and community perceptions of biobehavioral research will lead to more culturally sensitive and feasible community-based research methods. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
... Most research, however, has examined HPA-axis reactivity as an outcome of either parenting or child temperament (e.g. Blair, Granger, Kivlighan, Mills-Koonce, Willoughby et al., 2008;Davis, Donzella, Krueger & Gunnar, 1999;Dettling, Gunnar & Donzella, 1999;Gunnar, Mangelsdorf, Larson & Hertsgaard, 1989;Smeekens, Riksen-Walraven & Van Bakel, 2007; see Belsky & Pluess, 2009, for a discussion of this point). Individual differences in HPA-axis reactivity should also provide an index of children's sensitivity to the effects of environmental factors on important aspects of psychological development, such as temperament. ...
Article
Full-text available
Positive parenting has been related both to lower cortisol reactivity and more adaptive temperament traits in children, whereas elevated cortisol reactivity may be related to maladaptive temperament traits, such as higher negative emotionality (NE) and lower positive emotionality (PE). However, no studies have examined whether hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity, as measured by cortisol reactivity, moderates the effect of the quality of the parent–child relationship on changes in temperament in early childhood. In this study, 126 3-year-olds were administered the Laboratory Temperament Assessment Battery (Lab-TAB; Goldsmith et al., 1995) as a measure of temperamental NE and PE. Salivary cortisol was collected from the child at 4 time points during this task. The primary parent and the child completed the Teaching Tasks battery (Egeland et al., 1995), from which the quality of the relationship was coded. At age 6, children completed the Lab-TAB again. From age 3 to 6, adjusting for age 3 PE or NE, a better quality relationship with their primary parent predicted decreases in NE for children with elevated cortisol reactivity and predicted increases in PE for children with low cortisol reactivity. Results have implications for our understanding of the interaction of biological stress systems and the parent–child relationship in the development of temperament in childhood.
... Diurnal variation in cortisol level is a robust predictor of wellbeing during life transitions (Davis, Donzella, Krueger, & Gunnar, 1999;Watamura, Donzella, Alwin, & Gunnar, 2003) and HPA axis reactivity has been linked with internalizing behavior in children and young adolescents (Guerry & Hastings, 2011;Kuhlman, Lopez-Duran, & Olson, 2014;Lopez-Duran, Kovacs, & George, 2009). In college-age men, diurnal variability in cortisol level is associated with the cortisol awakening response (Pruessner, Hellhammer, Pruessner, & Lupien, 2003). ...
Article
Emerging adult (EA) cortisol response during family interaction predicts change in EA anxious behavior during the transition to college (Johnson & Gans, in press). In the present study, we take an initial step toward integrating family systems research and physiology by including assessment of EA salivary cortisol collected during a triadic (mother–father–EA offspring) family interaction task. Emerging adults (N = 101) between the ages of 17 and 19 were assessed at 3 time points across their first college year: the summer before college, Fall and Spring semesters. Two parents accompanied the emerging adult child to the summer assessment; all family members provided 4 saliva samples each at 20-min intervals. Later assessments of emerging adults included measures of internalizing behaviors. EA’s cortisol secretion patterns during family interaction predict observed and self-reported family relatedness, as well as patterns of internalizing behavior during the college transition. Observed family functioning appeared to moderate the relationship between EA cortisol response during family interaction and anxious behavior when adapting to college. Different patterns of results emerged, however, for EA men and women. The approach taken by this study provides a first step toward understanding how interrelationships among elements of physiology and family functioning contribute to later adjustment.
Article
Rank-order and paired comparison tests are widely used methods to assess sensory perception of young children. Small age differences could, however, influence the ability of children to carry out such tasks. This study compared rank-order and paired comparison tests for consistency in 4- and 5-year-old children. During four sessions, 22 young adults, 21 4-year-old and 47 5-year-old children carried out rank-order and paired comparison tests to measure discriminatory ability (0.22 M, 0.25 M, 0.29 M, 0.34 M, 0.39 M sucrose in orangeade) and preference (0.14 M, 0.20 M, 0.29 M, 0.42 M, 0.61 M sucrose in orangeade). Young adults and 5-year-old children were able to discriminate between all solutions and showed a high consistency between the rank-order and pair-wise tests for discriminatory ability (>76% consistency) and preference (>71% consistency). In contrast, 4-year-olds detected differences in sweetness during the preference tests, but failed to distinguish sweetness intensities during the discriminatory ability tests. It is concluded that the dissimilarity between 4-and 5-year-olds in performing sensory tests was due to a difference in their cognitive skills rather than their sensory perceptual differences.
Article
The objective of the present study was to determine the role of sex steroids in the development of self-perceived competence during adolescence. The Harter Self-Perception Scale was administered to 56 adolescents with delayed puberty who were receiving depo-testosterone (males) or conjugated estrogens (females) administered in 3-month blocks alternating with placebo. Treatment was given at three dose levels approximating early, middle, and late pubertal replacement levels. Hormone treatments had a significant positive effect for both males and females in one subscale domain — perceived job competence. Significant positive hormone effects were also obtained for perceptions of romantic appeal and close friendship in females and perception of athletic abilities in males. It can be inferred from the results of this study that the hormonal changes associated with sexual maturation have targeted influences on specific domains of self-perceived competence and that there are clear gender differences.
Book
Full-text available
Why are some performers exhilarated and energized about performing in public, while others feel a crushing sense of fear and dread, and experience public performance as an overwhelming challenge that must be endured? What are the factors that produce such vastly different performance experiences? Why have consummate artists like Frederic Chopin, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Pablo Cassals, Tatiana Troyanos, and Barbra Streisand experienced such intense music performance anxiety? This is a disorder that can affect musicians across a range of genres and of all standards. Some of the 'cures' musicians resort to can be harmful to their health and detrimental to their playing. This book is an exposition of music performance anxiety. It draws on a range of disciplines including psychology, philosophy, phenomenology, psychoanalysis, and performance theory in order to explain the many facets of music performance anxiety that have emerged in the empirical and clinical literature. It identifies some unifying guiding principles that will enhance our understanding of the condition and guides in the development of effective treatments. The book provides a detailed conceptual framework for the study of music performance anxiety and a review of the empirical and clinical research on the anxiety disorders. In addition, it presents a thorough analysis of the concepts related to music performance anxiety, its epidemiology, and theories and therapies that may be useful in understanding and treating the condition. The voices of musicians are clearly heard throughout the book and in the final two chapters, we hear directly from musicians about how they experience it and what they do to manage it.
Book
Full-text available
In the industrialized countries children have many foods to choose from, both healthy and unhealthy products, these choices mainly depend on children’s taste preferences. The present thesis focused on preferences for sweet and sour taste of young children (4- to 12-years of age) living in the US and the Netherlands. Understanding how sweet and sour taste preferences are formed and modified can help health professionals and those working in industry, to develop strategies to decrease the consumption of sweet tasting foods and to increase the variety of children’s diet with sour tasting foods. By using a variety of stimuli that differed in sweet (0.14M - 0.61M sucrose) and sour (0.00M - 0.25M citric acid) taste we investigated 1) how sweet and sour taste preferences of young children can be measured 2) which concentrations of sucrose and citric acid are most preferred 3) how repeated exposure modifies preferences and 4) how these preferences are related to oral physiological processes and food consumption. From the 7 studies we carried out it can be concluded that sweet and sour taste preferences of young children can consistently be measured with paired comparison and rank-order methods. Children prefer beverages with high concentrations of sucrose (0.61M) and a substantial part of children have a preference for extreme sour foods (0.08-0.25M citric acid). The later is related to intensity and novelty seeking behavior and consumption of fruits rather than oral physiological differences. Preferences for sour taste are related to exposure to sour taste during infancy and can not easily be changed by short repeated exposure during childhood. This is in contrast with preference for sweet taste, which can be heightened by a short repeated exposure during childhood. The knowledge gained by the present thesis may open the window to low-sweet and high-sour foods. This could be beneficial for fruit consumption and the dietary variety during childhood.
Article
Maladaptive responses to stress are components of both the etiology and expression of many psychiatric disorders (e.g., Dawes et al., 1999). In addition, individuals differ in their stress vulnerability, with some seeming to thrive despite the odds and others succumbing to even relatively mild adversity (Masten, 1999). Early adverse experiences likely contribute to both individual differences in stress vulnerability and their expression in psychiatric disorder (Heim, Owen, Plotsky, & Nemeroff, 1997). Explicating these individual differences and their role in psychiatric etiology is one of the central issues in developmental psychopathology. The goals of this chapter are to describe the current state of our knowledge regarding the developmental neurobiology of stress, its relation to psychiatric disorders, and the impact of early adverse experiences on stress vulnerability and resilience. We focus on studies of the limbic-hypothalamic-pituitary adrenocortical (LHPA) system, a critical system fostering both resilience and vulnerability to stress in animals and humans. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Theory suggests that early experiences may calibrate the “threshold activity” of the hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal axis in childhood. Particularly challenging or particularly supportive environments are posited to manifest in heightened physiological sensitivity to context. Using longitudinal data from the Family Life Project ( N = 1,292), we tested whether links between maternal sensitivity and hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal axis activity aligned with these predictions. Specifically, we tested whether the magnitude of the within-person relation between maternal sensitivity and children's cortisol levels, a proxy for physiological sensitivity to context, was especially pronounced for children who typically experienced particularly low or high levels of maternal sensitivity over time. Our results were consistent with these hypotheses. Between children, lower levels of mean maternal sensitivity (7–24 months) were associated with higher mean cortisol levels across this period (measured as a basal sample collected at each visit). However, the magnitude and direction of the within-person relation was contingent on children's average levels of maternal sensitivity over time. Increases in maternal sensitivity were associated with contemporaneous cortisol decreases for children with typically low-sensitive mothers, whereas sensitivity increases were associated with cortisol increases for children with typically high-sensitive mothers. No within-child effects were evident at moderate levels of maternal sensitivity.
Article
Cortisol awakening response (CAR) has been studied in children with ADHD, and some authors have reported morning cortisol differences among ADHD subtypes. Despite, only half of the children with ADHD continue to exhibit the disorder into adulthood, CAR has not been studied in adults so far. One hundred and nine adults with ADHD according to the DSM-IV criteria (46 inattentive and 63 combined) ranging in age from 18 to 55 years, and 27 healthy controls were included. Psychiatric and organic comorbidities were excluded. Salivary cortisol samples were obtained at 0, 30, 45 and 60 minutes after awakening. CAR was present in 84% of the healthy controls but in only 64% of the adults with ADHD (68% of the inattentive and 61% of the combined were CAR-positive). There were no significant differences in any of the morning cortisol measures between patients and controls or between the combined and inattentive subtypes of ADHD. Among the inattentive subtype but not in the combined patients, significant positive correlations were observed between the CAR and emotional lability (p=0.05), or self-concept (p=0.014) CAARS subscales, as well as with the cognitive impulsivity subscale of the Barratt impulsiveness scale (p=0.028). These results suggest that adults with ADHD exhibit normal cortisol responses upon awakening and thus cannot be defined in terms of hypo-arousal. Neurobiological differences between the combined and inattentive subtypes involving cortisol, are discussed.
Article
The transition to out-of-home child care brings a number of challenges for children, including complex peer interactions and extended separations from parents. Children often show a midmorning to afternoon rise in cortisol on child-care days, compared to the typical diurnal decline seen at home. Changes in cortisol were examined in a wide age range of children (N = 168; 1.2 months to 8 years, M = 3.27 years) during the 10-week transition to a new child-care setting. Structural equation modeling using latent change scores showed that children experienced an increase in the cortisol rise at child care across the 10-week transition. Furthermore, child age moderated the difference between home- and child-care cortisol patterns. Findings are placed in a developmental context, and potential implications and future directions are discussed.
Article
Most human studies reveal that social strategy is important to dominance rank within a hierarchy. In particular, bi-strategic controller strategies, the combination of prosocial (helping behavior) and coercive strategies (forcing others) are related to achieving and maintaining social dominance. Additionally, temperament traits such as effortful control are important in allowing the individual to fine-tune strategy use to the current context. However, social hierarchies also involve social dynamics that may create physical and emotional challenges, and these challenges are tied to health outcomes. The current study examines the relationships between social positioning, social strategy usage, temperament traits, and health. Findings reveal that self-reported social dominance was related to bi-strategic strategy usage. In addition, rating high in both bi-strategic resource control and effortful control (referred to as functional leadership orientation) was related to a variety of health components including energy, emotional well-being, social functioning and overall physical health. Although the causal direction remains unclear, it appears that bi-strategic controllers who are also high on effortful control are able to achieve both high status and better overall health.
Article
This article reviews the idea that humans evolved large brains and an extended childhood as adaptations that enable the development of social skills for coping with an increasingly complex and dynamic social and cultural environment. It then explores relations between physiological stress response and the ontogeny of social competencies. Two complementary theoretical models of hormonal stress response are considered: maladaptation to the novelty of chronic stress in social environments, and adaptive neural reorganisation. These two perspectives are interwoven in an evolutionary developmental analysis, complicated by the pleiotropic nature of the key stress hormone, cortisol. The article provides a plausible model and some new pieces for the puzzle linking stress response to the neural plasticity that enables adaptation to the dynamic human social environment.
Article
Recent studies on the anxiety patterns of public speakers have generally supported perspectives on emotion from the field of neurobiology. Without relying on highly invasive or cumbersome technology, much of the biology of speech anxiety has been derived from heart rate studies of physiological arousal rather than examining more direct evidence provided by neurological activity. The neuroendocrine hormone cortisol is produced by the brain during state anxiety and, in the present study, cortisol levels of public speakers are mapped over time. The resulting pattern for cortisol response is a monotonic decelerating function over time. Moreover, these cortisol levels are related to psychological measures of speaker state anxiety. The implications of these findings are discussed and suggestions for future research are provided.
Article
Performance anxiety is a common experience among musicians. Recent studies have found it to be an issue not only for adult performers but also for developing musicians as early as third grade. The question as to its developed or innate nature led to the present inquiry pertaining to young children’s responses to performance situations. Sixty-six 3- and 4-year-olds taking group music lessons that culminated in two concerts served as participants. Self-report of anticipatory anxiety, cortisol secretion, and observation of anxious behaviors were the primary measures. Results indicated that young children did experience anxiety with respect to music performances and that responses seemed to have both innate and developed components. Children with prior performing experience reported less anticipatory anxiety, but had higher cortisol levels, than those without prior experience. Additionally, performance location seemed to play a role in children’s anxiety responses. Those who were familiar with their performance environment responded with less anxiety than those who were not. Overall, second performances within a short time frame elicited much lower anxiety responses than initial performances. Findings pertaining to performance location and second performances appear to have direct pedagogical implications, which may help to reduce performance stress in young children.
Chapter
Overview Early social experience appears to be one of the most important psychological factors influencing health outcome in children. Social experience in childhood includes interactions with care givers (e.g. parents and childcare providers) and with peers (e.g. friends made at childcare or school). Of particular note in the classical psychology literature is the significance of parental attachment, especially that of the maternal bond. When applied directly to health, research initially focused on the psychopathological or mental health implications of maternal attachment or parental abuse. Indeed such developmental work has yielded a number of important findings. More recent research applying the influence on physical health of stressful experiences during childhood, has revealed some potential physiological indicators involved in this relationship, primarily that of the hormone cortisol. This chapter deals with the themes and debates surrounding this emerging literature, applying the social experiences in childhood to the health arena throughout childhood and across the lifespan. It is acknowledged that whilst there may be more broader issues influencing health during childhood, the stress response focus given here outlines a possible psychophysiological mediating mechanism through which such factors might influence health. The relevance of cortisol to health The basic premise behind the research discussed here is that early life experiences and individual differences can activate the stress response systems of the body to influence health outcomes across the lifespan.
Article
The experience of child/adolescent sexual abuse (CASA) has been clearly linked to regulatory deficits, alcohol consumption, and an increased risk for alcohol abuse/dependence. However, it has been emphasized that not all CASA-exposed individuals share such experiences; rather, alternative factors may increase one's vulnerability to alcohol-related outcomes. This article aims to theoretically examine the potential influence of effortful control (EC), a key construct in the development of self-regulation, as a vulnerability factor to alcohol use disorders following CASA. Within the diathesis–stress model, research is reviewed which supports the relations among lower EC abilities, the experience of CASA exposure(s), and the enhanced likelihood of alcohol use disorder development. It is posited that as EC is lower, less severe CASA is needed to facilitate risk for alcohol-related psychopathology via impairment in neuroendocrine and behavioral regulation. In turn, CASA exposure may negatively impact developing EC and also increasing likelihood of alcohol use disorder development. To this end, a thorough description of EC is provided, shared pathways between EC and CASA are reviewed, and finally, these pathways are linked to alcohol use.
Article
The psychobiology of stress involves two major components, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the autonomic nervous system (ANS). Research has revealed the association between behavior problems and the psychobiology of stress, yet findings are inconsistent and few studies have addressed the moderate correlations between behavior problems. This study examines the individual and interactive effects of HPA and ANS on child behavior problems while taking into account the comorbidity of externalizing and internalizing problems. Four saliva samples were collected from each participant in a community sample (N = 429; aged 11-12 years; 50.49 % male), which were assayed for cortisol (HPA) and alpha-amylase, sAA (ANS). Children's behavior problems were assessed using parent-report and self-report versions of the Child Behavior Checklist. Latent variables were constructed to represent trait-like individual differences in cortisol and sAA. Low levels of HPA axis activity were associated with higher levels of both externalizing and internalizing problems, but only among children with low ANS arousal. The association between externalizing and internalizing problems diminished to non-significant after taking into account the influence of HPA axis activity and ANS arousal, which suggests that the psychobiology of stress explains a fair proportion of comorbidity of behavior problems. The findings support that interaction between HPA axis and ANS functioning has potential to clarify prior mixed findings and advance our understanding of the child behavior problems.
Thesis
Full-text available
This thesis outlines a series of six studies that examine the potential cognitive and physiological mechanisms that underpin the association between loneliness and health. The current theoretical model (Cacioppo & Hawkley, 2009) proposes that loneliness is linked to poor health through hypervigilance to social threat (HSTH), resulting in increased activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The first two studies address gaps in the adult literature for loneliness and health and examine HSTH and the HPA axis stress response in real life social contexts: public speaking and meeting strangers. In adulthood, long term loneliness has been linked to poor health (ShioitzEzra & Ayalon, 2010); within childhood literature loneliness and health has only been examined in cross-sectional studies (Mahon & Yarcheski, 2003; Mahon et al., 1993). Thus, the fourth and fifth studies use a longitudinal design to examine loneliness and health in childhood. Cacioppo and Hawkley (2009) also propose that the HSTH in lonely people results in cognitive biases in processing of social information, which affect behavioural responses in social situations. Although cognitive biases have been examined in adulthood, this is yet to be examined in children, so the sixth study addresses this gap in the literature. The final study examines relationships between loneliness and perception of social threat in a real life social context for children: the transition from primary to secondary school. Findings demonstrate, similar to adult literature, that long-term loneliness in childhood is linked to poor health. Further, evidence for HSTH in lonely adults and children in real life social contexts was demonstrated, offering ecological validity for the current theoretical model (Cacioppo & Hawkley, 2009). The results also implicate chronic stress and a lack of cortisol flexibility as functional mechanisms linking loneliness to poor health. Unlike research with adults, memory biases for social information were not found in lonely children, indicating that lonely children may process social information different to lonely adults. Lonely children also found it harder to ignore irrelevant distractors in cognitive tasks than non-lonely children, when the distracting information involved speech, but not when it was a visual 4 distraction, indicating that speech information is processed differently than other distractors in lonely children. It is argued that Cacioppo and Hawkley’s (2009) model should be reexamined in light of the findings. Key areas for examination of the current theoretical model (Cacioppo & Hawkley, 2009) are highlighted and discussed: the adoption of chronic stress as a functional mechanism linking loneliness to poor health, investigation of mechanisms that result in a reduction of loneliness levels, and an introduction of a developmental perspective to understanding processes involved in the maintenance of loneliness.
Article
To be ready to learn, children need to be focused, engaged, and able to bounce back from setbacks. However, many children come to school with heightened or diminished physiological arousal due to exposure to poverty-related risks. While stress physiology plays a role in explaining how adversity relates to processes that support students’ cognitive development, there is a lack of studies of physiological stress response in educational settings. This review integrates relevant studies and offers future directions for research on the role of stress physiology in the school adaptation of elementary school students, focusing on these important questions: (a) What are the links between physiological stress response and learning-related skills and behaviors, and do they vary as a function of proximal and distal experiences outside of school? (b) How are school experiences associated with students’ physiological stress response and related cognitive and behavioral adaptations? (c) How can we leverage measures of students’ physiological stress response in evaluations of school-based interventions to better support the school success of every student? We hope to stimulate a new wave of research that will advance the science of developmental stress physiology, as well as improve the application of these findings in educational policy and practice.
Article
Full-text available
Objective To investigate whether temperament dimensions, Effortful Control (EC), Surgency-Extraversion (SE), and Negative Affectivity (NA), are associated with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and how they relate to awakening cortisol levels, as a proxy measure of peripheral arousal. Methods Parent-rated temperament and saliva samples were collected from 55 children with ADHD and 65 age-matched controls. Results Compared to controls, youths with ADHD showed lower EC, higher NA, and lower awakening cortisol levels but did not differ in SE. Similar findings emerged in dimensional analyses linking temperament traits to inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity symptoms. The results remained unchanged when controlling for the presence of co-occurring opposition-defiance and anxiety traits, as well as medication status. Temperament dimensions were not associated with cortisol levels. Conclusions Poor temperamental emotional and cognitive self-regulation showed significant associations with ADHD but did not appear to be linked to the under-arousal typically seen in ADHD.
Article
Full-text available
Temperament research investigates constitutionally based individual differences in basic psychological processes of emotion, motivation and attention (Bates, 1989). As a domain of study it occupies a particularly interesting location with respect to psychology and neuroscience. Although most of temperament research completed to date is behavioral, temperamental differences can also be studied at the neural systems level (see reviews by Gunnar, 1990, and Rothbart, 1989a). It is nevertheless important to remember that behavior is itself biological, a critical part of the adaptive functioning of the organism (Gunnar, 1990). Our approach to temperament follows the distinction we have made between temperamental reactivity and self-regulation, with reactivity defined as characteristics of the individual's reactions to stimulus change, reflected in the temporal and intensive parameters of the somatic, endocrine and autonomic nervous systems (Rothbart & Derryberry, 1981). Self-regulation is defined as processes functioning to modulate this reactivity, including behavioral patterns of approach and avoidance, and attentional orientation and selection (Rothbart & Posner, 1985). In this chapter, we first consider behavioral dimensions of temperament, reviewing briefly some of the recent findings on higher order factors of individuality in temperament and personality. We then attempt to develop links between these broad dimensions and models from affective and cognitive neuroscience. Finally, a developmental model resulting from this effort is described.
Article
Full-text available
It was proposed that the interaction between the constructs of emotion regulation and social interaction would predict social adaptation in preschoolers. Ninety-six 4-year-olds were observed in quartets of unfamiliar same-sex peers. Based on parent temperament ratings and observed free play behaviors, 68 children from the original sample were classified as: low social interaction, good emotion regulators; low social interaction, poor emotion regulators; high social interaction, good emotion regulators; high social interaction, poor emotion regulators; or average. The results indicated that the low social interaction children who were poor regulators displayed more wary and anxious behaviors during free play and other episodes, and were rated as having more internalizing problems than both the low social interaction children who were good regulators and the average group. The high social interaction children who were poor regulators were rated as having more externalizing problems than either the high social interaction children who were good regulators or the average group. Thus, it seems as if emotion dysregulation is associated with psychological maladaptation, but that this association is tempered by the degree to which children engage in social interaction.
Article
Full-text available
We report the results of research investigating temperamental characteristics of children in the People's Republic of China and the US using a parent-report instrument, the Children's Behavior Questionnaire (CBQ), defining temperament as individual differences in emotional, motoric, and attentional reactivity and self-regulation. Subjects were 624 6- to 7-year-old children, from Shanghai and the north-western region of the US. The 15 CBQ scales were factored for both samples, employing a principal axis factor analysis with an oblique rotation. Our findings indicated considerable similarity of factor structure in the two cultures, obtaining three factors labelled Surgency, Negative Affect, and Attentional Self-Regulation or Effortful Control. Differences across cultures were also found, with Surgency and Effortful Control scores being relatively higher than Negative Affect in the US sample and Negative Affect being relatively higher than Surgency and Effortful Control in the Chinese sample. Gender differences were also found to vary across cultures. Our findings are congruent with a view of underlying cultural similarities in temperamental variability across these cultures, influenced over time by the children's culturally varied experience.
Article
Full-text available
In this experiment, we combined the measurement of observable facial behavior with simultaneous measures of brain electrical activity to assess patterns of hemispheric activation in different regions during the experience of happiness and disgust. Disgust was found to be associated with right-sided activation in the frontal and anterior temporal regions compared with the happy condition. Happiness was accompanied by left-sided activation in the anterior temporal region compared with disgust. No differences in asymmetry were found between emotions in the central and parietal regions. When data aggregated across positive films were compared to aggregate negative film data, no reliable differences in brain activity were found. These findings illustrate the utility of using facial behavior to verify the presence of emotion, are consistent with the notion of emotion-specific physiological patterning, and underscore the importance of anterior cerebral asymmetries for emotions associated with approach and withdrawal.
Article
Full-text available
The measurement of cortisol in saliva provides the basic scientist as well as the clinician with a reliable tool for investigations of hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis activity. Since saliva samples can be obtained stress-free and independent from medically trained personnel this method may be well suited for use in psychobiological studies. This overview intends to give a comprehensive introduction to the method of salivary cortisol assessment and to briefly discuss its application in different scientific disciplines.
Article
Full-text available
A group of 19 healthy elderly subjects previously shown to differ in terms of their cortisol levels over a 4 year period were administered a neuropsychological test battery assessing memory, attention, and language. Correlational analyses performed on various corticosteroid measures showed that the slope of the change in cortisol levels over time predicted cognitive deficits in this elderly population. Aged subjects showing a significant increase in cortisol levels with years and with high current basal cortisol levels were impaired on tasks measuring explicit memory and selective attention when compared to aged subjects presenting either decreasing cortisol levels with years or increasing cortisol levels with moderate current basal cortisol levels. We further showed that subjects presenting a decrease in cortisol levels with years performed as well as young healthy subjects with regard to cognitive performance. Thus, impaired cognitive performance was associated with recent evidence of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) dysregulation and elevated basal cortisol levels. These results are consistent with recent animal studies showing the existence of subpopulations of aged rats that differ in HPA activity and cognitive performance. Finally, the pattern of cognitive results related to the cortisol history of subjects is in agreement with a role played by the hippocampus in age-related HPA dysfunction and cognitive performance.
Article
Full-text available
This study examined the effects of perceived stress and related individual characteristics, mood states, and stressful daily events on salivary cortisol levels. Forty-one "high stress" and 46 "low stress" subjects were selected on the basis of Perceived Stress Scale scores from a sample of male, white collar workers. Subjects completed Experience Sampling self-reports and collected saliva samples 10 times a day over 5 consecutive days. Multilevel analysis revealed that trait anxiety and depression, but not perceived stress, were associated with small but statistically significant cortisol elevation. No effects on cortisol were found for recent life events, chronic difficulties, trait anger, or psychosomatic symptoms. Distress, as reflected by the mood states Negative Affect and Agitation, was associated with higher cortisol levels, whereas Positive Affect had no statistically significant effect. Stressful daily events were associated with increased cortisol secretion, the magnitude of the effect depending on whether the event was still ongoing and on how frequently a similar kind of event had occurred previously. Although perceived stress, anxiety, and depression did not increase cortisol reactivity to daily events, we found evidence for reduced habituation to recurrent events in subjects scoring high on these traits. Mood appeared to play a mediating role in the relationship between stressful events and cortisol secretion. These results suggest that negative affectivity is not just a confounder but is related to elevated cortisol secretion during normal daily activities. The finding that even minor events and fluctuations in mood states were associated with increased adrenocortical activity points to a possible mechanism linking subjective experience to health outcomes.
Article
This review examines the central actions exerted by corticosteroids that are mediated by mineralocorticoid receptors (MRs or Type 1) and glucocorticoid receptocs (GRs or Type 2) in the brain. The leitmotiv is that these MR- and GR-mediated effects of the steroid hormones are of critical importance for homeostatic control. MRs have aldosterone (ALDO)-selective properties in some nerve cells and apparent corticosterone (B)-selective properties in others, notably the limbic neurons. Compartmentalization of the MR subtypes hinges on activity of 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase and corticosteroid-binding globulin. B also binds to GRs, but with 10-fold lower affinity. GR density is high in brain regions involved in organization of the stress response. GR-mediated corticosteroid effects inhibit stress-induced pituitary proopiomelanocortin and hypothalamic corticotropin-releasing hormone and vasopressin synthesis, but facilitate activation and sensitization of ascending aminergic neurons. In hippocampal CA1 neurons, co-localized MRs and GRs coordinately and differentially mediate corticosteroid control of ion regulation and transmitter responsiveness. MRs are involved in maintenance of excitability, while GRs suppress excitability, which is transiently raised by excitatory transmitters. At the neuroendocrine level, B sets the threshold for the stress response system via binding to MRs. Blockade of MRs enhances basal and stress-induced hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) activity. Stress- and circadian-induced episodic occupancy by B of GRs in hippocampus attenuates MR-mediated limbic inhibition. In hypothalamus, B blocks via binding to GRs the communication of the HPA axis. At the behavioral level, the ALDO-selective MRs mediate specific effects on salt hunger and functions associated with sodium homeostasis such as central cardiovascular control. Limbic MRs seem primarily concerned with B effects on information handling and the organization of behavioral strategies. GRs mediate steroid effects on fear- and food-motivated behavior and information storage. GR-mediated effects on behavior may persist for weeks in adulthood and appear permanent during development. High glucocorticoids decrease hippocampal GR and increase MR capacity, while mineralocorticoids down-regulate both receptor types. Animals with an increased relative amount of limbic MRs over GRs show reduced emotional and adrenocortical reactivity and a decreased ability to organize behavior with the help of external stimuli. Deviations of an idiosyncratic MR/GR balance are proposed to alter individual-specific susceptibility to stress and © 1991 Raven Press perhaps to stress-related brain diseases. The findings place Selye's "pendulum hypothesis" on mineralocorticoid and glucocorticoid action in the perspective of co-localized MRs and GRs mediating coordinate and differential effects of B on regulation of cellular homeostasis and behavioral adaptation.
Article
Early work in the field emphasized the ubiquity of endocrine responses to a wide variety of stressful stimuli, as if stress response represented one final common pathway. This conclusion fails to take into account the very large role that novelty played even when exposing individuals to presumably physical stimuli, such as heat or cold. Since different physical demands would require different metabolic responses for adaptation, it is unlikely that there is just one pattern of endocrine responses for all stressful stimuli. Rather, much of the early work can be characterized by observing the psychoendocrine response to novelty. The other 'lesson' learned from observations of how individuals differ in response to the same stressful stimuli emphasizes the relevance of whether or not the individual perceives the event as potentially threatening or challenging. If this is not so, he fails to become aroused and there is no endocrine response. The now well established critical role of the brain in controlling endocrine secretion not only makes the interpretation of the importance of psychological events influencing endocrine activity not only feasible, but establishes hormonal response as one of the three major effector systems of the central nervous system (motor, autonomic, endocrine).
Article
Explored relations between young children's salivary cortisol, patterns of behavior problems, and social behavior in a challenging social context. 29 children (aged 3 yrs 5 mo to 6 yrs 8 mo) with emerging behavior problems participated in activities in small groups that required them to adapt to unfamiliar teachers, peers, and social events. Diverse behavioral assessments were conducted, and saliva was collected before and after the 1st activity session, 2 wks later, and at home. Larger decreases in salivary cortisol (low neuroendocrine reactivity) during the 1st session were associated with concurrent and subsequent undercontrolled (i.e., aggressive and disruptive) social behaviors. In contrast, overcontrolled behaviors and negative affect during the 1st and later activity sessions were associated with larger increases in cortisol during the later session, when the activities were familiar. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
why do some children react with inhibition when they encounter strangers but other children do not / why do some of these initially inhibited children overcome their shyness quickly and become immersed in social interaction whereas others need a long time to warm up, and still others escape to splendid isolation, ignoring the stranger / why do some children act so shy in groups of familiar peers whereas others fly around like butterflies (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
The relations among temperament, social competence, and levels of a stress-sensitive hormone (salivary cortisol) were examined in two studies of preschool children (Study 1, N = 29; Study 2, N = 46). In both studies, we sampled cortisol daily for the initial weeks of the school year (Group Formation period) and for several weeks later in the year (Familiar Group period). For each child, we examined two measures of cortisol activity (separately for each period) based on the distribution of cortisol levels across days: (a) median cortisol (50th percentile) and (b) cortisol reactivity (the difference between the 75th and 50th percentile). Median cortisol was modestly stable across periods, but cortisol reactivity was not. Children who showed high cortisol reactivity (75th minus 50th percentile ≥0.10 μg/dl) during the Group Formation period but low-to-normal cortisol reactivity during the Familiar Group period were outgoing, competent, and well liked by their peers. In contrast, children who changed from low/normal to high cortisol reactivity and those who maintained high cortisol reactivity from the Group Formation to Familiar Group period were affectively negative and solitary. Children who showed high median cortisol during the Familiar Group period or over both periods scored lower on a measure of attentional and inhibitory control. Together, these results suggest that relations among temperament, social competence, and neuroendocrine reactivity reflect both individual and contextual differences. ©John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Dev Psychobiol 31: 49–63, 1997
Article
Accounts of primate social dominance hierarchies often imply that the achievement of superior status is a “goal”, akin to a valued resource or commodity, and that hierarchies emerge in multimale groups from prolonged competitive conflicts over social status. This possibility is not consistent with our observations of five newly formed triads of adult male squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus). Stable linear hierarchies based on clear asymmetries in the direction of intermale agonism and genital displays were established quickly, with virtually no reciprocal fighting, and in the absence of rank-related differences in plasma cortisol or testosterone. Although affiliative social overtures were initiated more often by high-ranking and middle-ranking males, affiliative overtures were directed equally often toward all members of each group. From the outset of the study all males, regardless of rank, spent an average of 33% of their time huddling in affiliative contact with male cagemates. These results suggest that in newly formed groups of adult male squirrel monkeys, social hierarchies reflect an expedient convention that reduces conflict and facilitates the formation of small cohesive groups. © 1994 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Article
Previous research has shown that infants who display a high frequency of motor activity and negative affect at 4 months of age are likely to be behaviorally inhibited toddlers. We examined social behaviors, maternal report of temperament, salivary cortisol, and baseline startle responses at age 4 in a sample of children, some of whom displayed a high frequency of motor activity and negative affect at 4 months of age. Infants who displayed this temperamental profile were reported by their mothers as more shy at age 4 compared with other children. We also found that 4-year-olds who displayed a high frequency of wary behavior during peer play exhibited relatively high morning salivary cortisol, were reported as contemporaneously shy by their mothers, and were behaviorally inhibited at 14 months of age. There were no significant relations found between baseline startle and morning salivary cortisol and measures of shyness at age 4. We speculate that high levels of cortisol in shy children may induce changes in the amygdala, exacerbating their fearfulness. © 1997 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Dev Psychobiol 30: 127–140, 1997
Article
In a series of studies, we evaluated the susceptibility of radioimmunoassays (RIA) for saliva cortisol to interference effects caused by oral stimulants used to facilitate saliva collection in studies with children. When added directly to saliva samples, oral stimulants (drink mix crystals) artificially inflated estimated cortisol concentrations. The magnitude of the interference effect was concentration-dependent and more pronounced for some stimulants and RIA procedures than for others. Analysis of samples collected using oral stimulants from child and adult participants confirmed stimulant interference as an extraneous source of variability in measured saliva cortisol. Associations between serum and saliva cortisol and between saliva cortisol and “behavioral” variables were attenuated by stimulant interference. A survey of six large child studies estimated interference effects, indexed by low sample pH, to be present in 14.7% of the 1,148 total saliva samples, or 2%-54% (M= 22%) of samples within each study. Recommendations to minimize the impact of stimluant interference in studies involving salivary cortisol in the context of child health and development are outlined.
Article
Squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus, Iquitos) were exposed to a sequence of three stresses: A live snake, ether anesthesia, and physical restraint. Plasma cortisol concentrations were determined both following each stress exposure and before and after the sequence of stresses. Dominant males demonstrated lower unstressed plasma cortisol levels than subordinates. Although the form of the relationship between adrenal activity and social dominance differs for the types of stress, dominant animals always show the greatest adrenal reactivity to stress.
Article
We adapted a commercial serum cortisol radioimmunoassay (RIA) kit for use with saliva specimen. Using 50μl sample volume, the lower sensitivity was found to be 0.02 μg/dl with intraassay variation coefficients between 5.4 and 8.9% at different concentrations. The 50% intercept was either 0.5 or 0.26 μg/dl (50 or 100 μl standard/sample volume). Fifty-four early morning samples from healthy adults showed absolute concentrations which are closely comparable to respective data from other laboratories. A comparison of 35 saliva samples which were each assayed with the adapted RIA as well as with three other commercial kits revealed high correlations between these assays (r = .94 to r = .97). Data on salivary cortisol responses to CRH stimulation and dexamethasone suppression in healthy subjects further the validity of the assay results. The most important contribution of this assay modification, however, is thought to be its impact on analysis costs: The protocol presented in this paper allows for reliable salivary cortisol measures with a reduction of costs for analytical material to 25% compared to serum determinations.
Article
Regions of the amygdala are involved in anticipation of negative events. Chronic anticipation of negative events leads to what we call allostatic load, or arousal pathology. Two hormones appear to be involved in arousal pathology; corticotropin-releasing hormone in the brain and glucocorticoids. We suggest that increases in corticotropin-releasing hormone, by stress or glucocorticoids, in the amygdala may have functional consequences for allostatic load. Whereas, corticotropin-releasing hormone in the parvocellular region of the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus is decreased by glucocorticoids thereby under negative feedback and homeostatic control, the central nucleus of the amygdala is to some extent under positive feedback and is increased by glucocorticoids, and perhaps under allostatic control. The human and animal literature suggest that a variety of psychopathologies (e.g., melancholia) may be tied to neurohormonal signals activating regions of the amygdala.
Article
The assessment of cortisol in saliva has proven a valid and reliable reflection of the respective unbound hormone in blood. To date, assessment of cortisol in saliva is a widely accepted and frequently employed method in psychoneuroendocrinology. Due to several advantages over blood cortisol analyses (e.g., stress-free sampling, laboratory independence, lower costs) saliva cortisol assessment can be the method of choice in basic research and clinical environments. The determination of cortisol in saliva can facilitate stress studies including newborns and infants and replace blood sampling for diagnostic endocrine tests like the dexamethasone suppression test. The present paper provides an up-to-date overview of recent methodological developments, novel applications as well as a discussion of possible future applications of salivary cortisol determination.
Article
The effects of control over exposure to high intensity noise on plasma cortisol levels and social behaviors were examined in rhesus monkeys. There were four conditions: control over noise, loss of control over noise, no control over noise, and no noise. Plasma cortisol data indicated that animals with control over high intensity noise stimulation did not differ from animals exposed to no noise at all. Plasma cortisol levels were significantly elevated in animals with no control over high intensity noise and in animals experiencing a loss of control over noise. Animals which experienced loss of control over noise showed increased aggressive behavior while animals with no control over noise showed significantly less social contact than other animals.
Article
Physiological and behavioral consequences of formation of female-female relationships were investigated in adult squirrel monkeys. Plasma cortisol, heart rate, and behavior were evaluated during confinement in a test cage while animals were housed alone, during the first hour of isosexual pair formation, and while animals were housed as isosexual dyads. In addition, basal cortisol levels were assessed both before and after pair formation, as were behavioral and cardiovascular responses to social and nonsocial stimulus presentations. Basal cortisol levels underwent a marked and sustained reduction following formation of pairs, independent of both dominance status and the quality of social interactions between pairmates. In contrast, adrenocortical responsiveness was not altered by social conditions, apart from a modest and transitory difference between dominant and subordinate females in their initial response to pair formation. Heart rate declined sharply during each test session, but did not reliably differentiate social conditions, stimulus conditions, or dominance status. These findings contrast with results of a parallel study of male squirrel monkeys and suggest that isosexual relationships in males and females are associated with different sociophysiological processes.
Article
The relation of symptoms of conduct disorder (CD) and anxiety to salivary cortisol was explored in 67 clinic-referred boys aged 8 to 13 years. Children with anxiety disorder had higher levels of cortisol, but this main effect was qualified by a significant CD x anxiety disorder interaction. Consistent with Gray's biological model of the behavioral inhibition system (BIS), children with both CD and anxiety disorder had higher levels of salivary cortisol than children with CD without comorbid anxiety disorder. In the absence of CD, however, anxiety disorder was not clearly associated with higher cortisol. This result suggests that cortisol may be a useful biological marker of arousal associated with BIS activity in children with CD.
Article
Studies will be presented which examine the physiological and behavioral responses of squirrel monkeys and rhesus macaques following disruptions of mother-infant relationships. Reliable increases in circulating levels of plasma cortisol occur following separation of the infant from its mother. The presence of familiar conspecifics during the time of separation reduces the pituitary-adrenal response, compared to that elicited by total isolation. Visual access to the mother during separation also ameliorates the plasma cortisol response. However, when infants are separated in the presence of unfamiliar conspecifics, the physiological response is exaggerated compared to animals which are totally isolated. The behavior expressed by the infant during separation, particularly separation-induced vocalizations, is not concordant with this physiological index of affect. The rate of vocalization produced when the infant has visual access to the mother was higher than when the infant was totally isolated. However, when allowed access to familiar conspecifics, the rate of vocalization was lower than during total isolation, with no vocalization produced while the separated infant was in the unfamiliar social group. The curvilinear relationship between vocalization and the physiological index of arousal has led to a revision of the traditional concept that separation-induced infant vocalization is reflective of distress. These data support the hypothesis that vocalizations may serve as a coping response that reduces the physiological indices of arousal. Social interaction with familiar cospecifics may serve as a non-vocal coping response (e.g., proximity contact to other monkeys) which also reduces the behavioral and physiological responses to maternal separation.
Article
Hemolytic complement activity and complement protein levels were evaluated before and after psychological disturbance in the squirrel monkey. Significant increases in hemolytic complement activity were observed following separation of 6-month-old infants from their mothers. Complement protein levels were generally correlated with hemolytic activity, but did not show the same pattern of change. C3 levels did not change consistently after maternal separation, while C4 decreased significantly on Day 7, and then began to return toward basal levels by Day 14. The alterations in complement activity were associated with elevated adrenal hormone secretion, but were not directly correlated with plasma cortisol levels. A second experiment showed that increased hemolytic complement activity also occurred in juvenile squirrel monkeys following 4-hour to 7-day removals from a peer group. The effect of maternal separation on antibody responses to viral challenge was evaluated in a third experiment. Separated infant squirrel monkeys mounted a smaller antibody response than did control infants that remained with their mothers. A similar decline in antibody responses was observed in separated rhesus macaque infants, but the effect was less marked in this species. Thus, the strong effect of psychological disturbance on immunity in the squirrel monkey is probably related to its prolonged endocrine responses.
Article
Longitudinal study of 2 cohorts of children selected in the second or third year of life to be extremely cautious and shy (inhibited) or fearless and outgoing (uninhibited) to unfamiliar events revealed preservation of these 2 behavioral qualities through the sixth year of life. Additionally, more of the inhibited children showed signs of activation in 1 or more of the physiological circuits that usually respond to novelty and challenge, namely, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, the reticular activating system, and the sympathetic arm of the autonomic nervous system. It is suggested that the threshold of responsivity in limbic and hypothalamic structures to unfamiliarity and challenge is tonically lower for inhibited than for uninhibited children.
Article
Persistent elevated adrenocortical responsiveness to ACTH has been demonstrated in female rhesus monkeys as long as 13 weeks after relocation into new single male breeding groups. Measures of immediate responses to psychosocial stress of grouping such as aggressive interaction and circulating plasma cortisol levels were highest immediately after grouping, but tended to decline to lower levels after the first month. In a retrospective comparison of such 'new' breeding groups (less than one year) versus established breeding groups (more than two years), stress-related morbidities such as trauma (wounding) and loose stools were higher for as long as six months after new group formation. The actual and potential adverse effects of regrouping stress on colony health and reproduction are relevant to cost-benefit assessment of such colony management procedures.
Article
Activity of the HPA system does appear to be related to emotion regulation processes in children. The conditions known to modulate HPA activity in animals, adults, and children correspond well to the behavioral strategies often discussed in the domain of emotion regulation. Individual differences in emotion processes related to negative emotion temperaments appear to be associated with individual differences in HPA reactivity among normally developing children, with both fearful, inhibited temperaments and distressed, angry temperaments being associated with greater HPA reactivity. Among children exhibiting behavior problems in the clinical range, however, it may be the "internalizing" patterns that are associated with greater HPA reactivity. The body of research concerning the psychobiology of the HPA system strongly suggests that associations between emotion regulation styles and HPA activity are not merely correlations, that they do indeed reflect potential causal connections. HPA activation and regulation has been shown in animals both to influence and to be influenced by emotions and their corresponding behavioral and psychological processes. Despite a reasonable body of research that now exists on children, many questions regarding the relations between HPA activity and emotion processes remain to be examined. In addressing these questions, it may be useful to consider several periods of the HPA response. Most of the work on children involves the interrelations between emotion and adrenocortical systems during the first 10-15 min of the stress response. This would include the initial activation of the system and the subsequent emotion and physiological processes involved in continuing or terminating the response. Little attention has been paid to more slowly developing effects of HPA activity on the central nervous system in children, particularly with regard to its influence on children's memories for stressful events and the emotion regulation strategies that they employed during the event. Studies of change or continuity of these interconnections over several exposures to a stressor, as well as between earlier and later points in the activation and regulation process, will be especially important to our understanding of the regulation of affective behavior.
Article
The aim of this study was to assess relations between behavioral organization and adrenocortical and cardiac activity in newborns. Twice during the neonatal period, the behavioral organization of 42 newborns, in terms of orientation and irritability, was assessed by the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS), and the newborns' cortisol response to the NBAS procedure was determined. In addition, cardiac activity was assessed during 1 of the NBAS. Whereas there were only inconsistent correlations between newborn irritability and the adrenocortical response during NBAS, low orientation was associated with a higher increase in cortisol in both of the assessments. In addition, orientation was predicted by basal cortisol level. High heart rates were associated with high irritability and low regulation of state, and, in addition, negative relations were indicated between orientation and heart rate variability. The findings support a coping model of biobehavioral relations in newborns.
Article
Previous research has shown that infants who display a high frequency of motor activity and negative affect at 4 months of age are likely to be behaviorally inhibited toddlers. We examined social behaviors, maternal report of temperament, salivary cortisol, and baseline startle responses at age 4 in a sample of children, some of whom displayed a high frequency of motor activity and negative affect at 4 months of age. Infants who displayed this temperamental profile were reported by their mothers as more shy at age 4 compared with other children. We also found that 4-year-olds who displayed a high frequency of wary behavior during peer play exhibited relatively high morning salivary cortisol, were reported as contemporaneously shy by their mothers, and were behaviorally inhibited at 14 months of age. There were no significant relations found between baseline startle and morning salivary cortisol and measures of shyness at age 4. We speculate that high levels of cortisol in shy children may induce changes in the amygdala, exacerbating their fearfulness.
Article
The relations among temperament, social competence, and levels of a stress-sensitive hormone (salivary cortisol) were examined in two studies of preschoolers children (Study 1, N = 29; Study 2, N = 46). In both studies, we sampled cortisol daily for the initial weeks of school year (Group Formation period) and for several weeks later in the year (Familiar Group period). For each child, we examined two measures of cortisol activity (separately for each period) based on the distribution of cortisol levels across days: (a) median cortisol (50th percentile) and (b) cortisol reactivity (the difference between the 75th and 50th percentile). Median cortisol was modestly stable across periods, but cortisol reactivity was not. Children who showed high cortisol reactivity (75th minus 50th percentile > or = 0.10 micrograms/dl) during the Group Formation period but low-to-normal cortisol reactivity during the Familiar Group period were outgoing, competent, and well liked by their peers. In contrast, children who changed from low/normal to high cortisol reactivity and those who maintained high cortisol reactivity from the Group Formation to Familiar Group period were affectively negative and solitary. Children who showed high median cortisol during the Familiar Group period or over both periods scored lower on a measure of attentional and inhibitory control. Together, these results suggest that relations among temperament, social competence, and neuroendocrine reactivity reflect both individual and contextual differences.
Article
Baseline and stress induced salivary cortisol levels were investigated in 63 army recruits at the beginning and the end of six week boot camp training. At the beginning of the training, the recruits were randomly distributed to nine groups, and weekly measurements of the social hierarchy within each group were obtained. Independent of the social position, baseline levels increased over the first weeks of the training period. Under experimental psychological stress, salivary cortisol levels highly increased in socially dominant subjects (14.0 nmol/l), while only a modest elevation was observed in subordinate men (2.9 nmol/l). Similar differences in response patterns were observed under physical stress. At the end of the training, blunted cortisol responses were observed to both psychological and physical stress. The data suggest a close relationship between social status and pituitary-adrenal responsiveness to psychological stress in men.
Article
In this article the authors address how pathological anxiety may develop from adaptive fear states. Fear responses (e.g., freezing, startle, heart rate and blood pressure changes, and increased vigilance) are functionally adaptive behavioral and perceptual responses elicited during danger to facilitate appropriate defensive responses that can reduce danger or injury (e.g., escape and avoidance). Fear is a central motive state of action tendencies subserved by fear circuits, with the amygdala playing a central role. Pathological anxiety is conceptualized as an exaggerated fear state in which hyperexcitability of fear circuits that include the amygdala and extended amygdala (i.e., bed nucleus of the stria terminalis) is expressed as hypervigilance and increased behavioral responsivity to fearful stimuli. Reduced thresholds for activation and hyperexcitability in fear circuits develop through sensitization- or kindling-like processes that involve neuropeptides, hormones, and other proteins. Hyperexcitability in fear circuits is expressed as pathological anxiety that is manifested in the various anxiety disorders.
Article
The neural processes that underlie the functional emergence of human cognitive functions, particularly those associated with the prefrontal cortex (PFC), are of growing interest to developmental psychologists and neuroscientists. Specifically, working memory functions have been correlated with PFC activity in nonhuman primates and adult humans but have not been extensively studied in children. We examined the developmental emergence of functions involved in working memory through the use of the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB), a computerized battery of nonverbal visually-presented neuropsychological tests designed to dissociate frontal from temporal lobe behavioral functions. Participants were normal children, aged 4-8 (n = 181) and a small group of young adults (n = 24) who completed measures of Spatial Memory Span, Spatial Working Memory, the Tower of London planning task, Visual Pattern and Spatial Recognition tasks, and a Set-Shifting task. Findings indicate a general age-related progression in ability levels on frontal lobe tasks, with 4-year-olds performing worse than 5- to 7-year-olds on all measures. Eight-year-olds are superior to younger children in their ability to solve complex problems but have not yet reached adult levels of performance on the most difficult items of the Tower of London and Spatial Working Memory tasks. We conclude that the development of working memory functions proceeds dimensionally, starting with refinement of basic perceptual and sensorimotor functions and culminating with the physiological maturation of widespread neural networks that integrate complex processing demands inherent to working memory tasks.