Nathan A. Fox's research while affiliated with University of Maryland Global Campus and other places

Publications (686)

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Motor execution, observation, and imagery are important skills used in motor learning and rehabilitation. The neural mechanisms underlying these cognitive-motor processes are still poorly understood. We used a simultaneous recording of functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) and electroencephalogram (EEG) to elucidate the differences in neura...
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Despite substantial evidence indicating a close link between action production and perception in early child development, less is known about how action experience shapes the processes of perceiving and anticipating others’ actions. Here, we developed a novel approach to capture functional connectivity specific to certain brain areas to investigate...
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EEG methods offer a promising approach to study the development of attention or attention-related processes such as change-detection and attentional capture. However, the development of these attention processes from early to middle childhood is not well understood. In the current study, we utilized a passive three-stimulus oddball paradigm to exam...
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Importance The early childhood temperament of behavioral inhibition (BI), characterized by inhibited and fearful behaviors, has been associated with heightened risk for anxiety and depression across the lifespan. Although several neurocognitive correlates underlying vulnerability to the development of anxiety among inhibited children have been iden...
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Extant research has produced conflicting findings regarding the link between social fearfulness and prosocial behavior, with some studies reporting negative relations and others reporting null effects. Furthermore, these studies have focused predominantly on toddlerhood, and few have examined prosociality between peers. The present study investigat...
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We examined whether family care following early-life deprivation buffered the association between stressful life events (SLEs) and executive functioning (EF) in adolescence. In early childhood, 136 institutionally reared children were randomly assigned to foster care or care-as-usual; 72 never-institutionalized children served as a comparison group...
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Across clinical and subclinical samples, anxiety has been associated with increased attentional capture by cues signaling danger. Various cognitive models attribute the onset and maintenance of anxiety symptoms to maladaptive selective information processing. In this brief review, we 1) describe the evidence for the relations between anxiety and at...
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Hypotheses concerning the biologic embedding of early adversity via developmental neuroplasticity mechanisms have been proposed on the basis of experimental studies in animals. However, no studies have demonstrated a causal link between early adversity and neural development in humans. Here, we present evidence from a randomized controlled trial li...
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The ability to monitor performance during a goal-directed behavior differs among children and adults in ways that can be measured with several tasks and techniques. We investigated age differences in neural responses linked to performance monitoring using a multimodal approach. The approach combined functional MRI and source localization of event-r...
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This study examined longitudinal data from the Bucharest Early Intervention Project, a randomized controlled trial of foster care as an alternative to institutional care following exposure to severe psychosocial deprivation. We report data from 135 participants assessed in early adulthood (age 18 y). We find that 16 y after randomization occurred,...
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Behavioral Inhibition is a temperament identified in the first years of life that enhances the risk for development of anxiety during late childhood and adolescence. Amongst children characterized with this temperament, only around 40 percent go on to develop anxiety disorders, meaning that more than half of these children do not. Over the past 20...
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This study is the first to examine spectrum‐wide (1 to 250 Hz) differences in electroencephalogram (EEG) power between eyes open (EO) and eyes closed (EC) resting state conditions in 486 children. The results extend the findings of previous studies by characterizing EEG power differences from 30 to 250 Hz between EO and EC across childhood. Develop...
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Behavioral evidence shows that experience with an action shapes action perception. Neural mirroring has been suggested as a mechanism underlying this behavioral phenomenon. Suppression of electroencephalogram (EEG) power in the mu frequency band, an index of motor activation, typically reflects neural mirroring. However, contradictory findings exis...
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Institutional rearing negatively impacts the development of children's social skills and executive functions (EF). However, little is known about whether childhood social skills mediate the effects of the foster care intervention and foster caregiving quality following early institutional rearing on EF and social skills in adolescence. We examined...
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Anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders are common childhood psychiatric disorders. Behavioral inhibition (BI) is a widely studied risk factor for anxiety. Less is known about overcontrol, a related behavioral phenotype characterized by concern for errors, perfectionism, and inflexibility and also associated with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive...
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Over the last 20 years, we have learned much about the extent to which early‐life deprivation affects the mental health of children and adolescents. This body of evidence comes predominantly from studies of children raised in institutional care. The Bucharest Early Intervention Project (BEIP) is the only randomized controlled trial designed to eval...
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While it is normal to be scared of things, some children are so scared that it disrupts their lives. This is called an anxiety disorder. To help children with anxiety disorders, we need to know how anxiety disorders start. From other research we knew that toddlers who avoid new situations are more likely to become anxious later in life. They are mo...
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Anxiety has been associated with reliance on reactive (stimulus-driven/reflexive) control strategies in response to conflict. However, this conclusion rests primarily on indirect evidence. Few studies utilize tasks that dissociate the use of reactive (‘just in time’) vs. proactive (anticipatory/preparatory) cognitive control strategies in response...
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Temperament involves stable behavioral and emotional tendencies that differ between individuals, which can be first observed in infancy or early childhood and relate to behavior in many contexts and over many years.1 One of the most rigorously characterized temperament classifications relates to the tendency of individuals to avoid the unfamiliar a...
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Background Policy debates over anti-poverty programs are often marked by pernicious stereotypes suggesting that direct cash transfers to people residing in poverty encourage health-risking behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and other substance use. Causal evidence on this issue is limited in the U.S. Given the prominent role of child allowances a...
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The action observation network (AON) is a network of brain regions involved in the execution and observation of a given action. The AON has been investigated in humans using mostly electroencephalogram (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), but shared neural correlates of action observation and action execution are still unclear du...
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The authors examined temperamental and sociocognitive predictors of socially anxious behavior from preschool to early adolescence. Children (N = 227; 59% male; 69% White) completed a speech task at ages 5, 7, 10, and 13 and socially anxious behaviors were coded. Behavioral inhibition (BI) was assessed at ages 2/3 and Theory of Mind (ToM) was assess...
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Error monitoring allows individuals to monitor and adapt their behavior by detecting errors. Error monitoring is thought to develop throughout childhood and adolescence. However, most of this evidence comes from studies in late childhood and adolescence utilizing event‐related potentials (ERPs). The current study utilizes time–frequency (TF) and co...
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Objective Behavioral inhibition (BI) is an infant temperament characterized by heightened reactivity and negative affect in response to novel people and situations. BI is among the earliest and strongest predictors of future anxiety problems. However, not all children with a history of BI will manifest anxiety problems. A growing body of evidence s...
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Behavioral inhibition (BI), an infant temperament characterized by distress to novelty, is amongst the strongest early risk markers for future anxiety. In this review, we highlight three ways that recent research elucidates key details about the pathophysiology of anxiety in individuals with BI. First, atypical amygdala connectivity during infancy...
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Stress has been linked with children's socioemotional problems and lower language scores, particularly among children raised in socioeconomically disadvantaged circumstances. Much of the work examining the relations among stress, language, and socioemotional functioning have relied on assessments of a single dimension of maternal stress. However, s...
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Introduction Research suggests that certain parenting behaviors are best suited to promote optimal child development, depending on a child's distinctive temperamental presentation. This multimethod, longitudinal study examines the interactive effect of parenting and temperament in early childhood on the developmental trajectory of social anxiety in...
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Background Psychiatric symptoms are commonly comorbid in childhood. The ability to disentangle unique and shared correlates of comorbid symptoms facilitates personalized medicine. Cognitive control is implicated broadly in psychopathology, including in pediatric disorders characterized by anxiety and irritability. To disentangle cognitive control c...
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Humans are ubiquitously exposed to neurotoxicants in air pollution, causing increased risk for psychiatric outcomes. Effects of prenatal exposure to air pollution on early emerging behavioral phenotypes that increase risk of psychopathology remain understudied. We review animal models that represent analogues of human behavioral phenotypes that are...
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Background: Humans are ubiquitously exposed to air pollutants including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). Although most studies of prenatal exposures have focused on psychopathology in childhood or adolescence, the effects of air pollutants on early emerging individual differences in reactivity and regulation are of growing concern. Our stud...
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Significance This study demonstrates the causal impact of a poverty reduction intervention on early childhood brain activity. Data from the Baby’s First Years study, a randomized control trial, show that a predictable, monthly unconditional cash transfer given to low-income families may have a causal impact on infant brain activity. In the context...
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Importance: A child temperament characterized by shyness and avoidance of social interactions is associated with poor peer relationships and emotional problems, yet its long-term associations with adult cardiometabolic health are largely unknown. Objective: To examine whether a childhood temperament characterized by shyness and avoidance of soci...
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Brain activity in the action observation network (AON) is lateralized during action execution, with greater activation in the contralateral hemisphere to the side of the body used to perform the task. However, it is unknown whether the AON is also lateralized when watching another person perform an action. In this study, we use fNIRS to measure bra...
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Symptoms of ADHD and anxiety often co-occur, yet we are limited in our understanding of which children with ADHD symptoms are more likely to develop anxiety symptoms in adolescence. This longitudinal study examined the role of behavioral inhibition (BI) and peer relationships (i.e., peer support and peer victimization) in relation to childhood ADHD...
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Although the COVID-19 pandemic caused significant stress and anxiety among many people, individuals’ experiences varied. We examined whether specific forms of anxiety predicted distinct trajectories of anxiety, perceived stress, and COVID-related worries during 3 early months of the pandemic. In a longitudinal study ( N = 291), adolescents’ ( n = 1...
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Irritability, characterized by anger in response to frustration, is normative in childhood. While children typically show a decline in irritability from toddlerhood to school age, elevated irritability throughout childhood may predict later psychopathology. The current study ( n = 78) examined associations between trajectories of irritability in ea...
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Developmental EEG research often involves analyzing signals within various frequency bands, based on the assumption that these signals represent oscillatory neural activity. However, growing evidence suggests that certain frequency bands are dominated by transient burst events in single trials rather than sustained oscillations. This is especially...
Preprint
Behavioral evidence shows that experience with an action shapes action perception. Neural mirroring has been suggested as a mechanism underlying this behavioral phenomenon. Suppression of EEG power in the mu frequency band, an index of motor activation, typically reflects neural mirroring. However, contradictory findings exist regarding the associa...
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Anxiety disorders are highly prevalent and disabling but seem particularly tractable to investigation with translational neuroscience methodologies. Neuroimaging has informed our understanding of the neurobiology of anxiety disorders, but research has been limited by small sample sizes and low statistical power, as well as heterogenous imaging meth...
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From infancy, neural processes for perceiving others’ actions and producing one’s own actions overlap (neural mirroring). Adults and children show enhanced mirroring in social interactions. Yet, whether social context affects mirroring in infancy, a time when processing others’ actions is crucial for action learning, remains unclear. We examined wh...
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Autonomic nervous system reactivity has been posited to be a mechanism contributing to social and emotional problems among children exposed to early adversity. Leveraging data from the Bucharest Early Intervention Project, a longitudinal randomized controlled trial of foster care versus institutional care of abandoned children in Romania, we assess...
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Aperiodic activity contains important and meaningful physiological information that has been shown to dynamically change with age. However, no longitudinal studies have examined its development during early-to-mid adolescence. The current study closes this gap by investigating age- and sex-related longitudinal change in aperiodic activity across ea...
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Childhood economic disadvantage is associated with lower cognitive and social-emotional skills, reduced educational attainment, and lower earnings in adulthood. Despite these robust correlations, it is unclear whether family income is the cause of differences observed between children growing up in poverty and their more fortunate peers or whether...
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Although many studies have examined the location of the action observation network (AON) in human adults, the shared neural correlates of action-observation and action-execution are still unclear partially due to lack of ecologically valid neuroimaging measures. In this study, we aim to demonstrate the feasibility of using functional near infrared...
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Development of selective attention during the first year of life is critical to cognitive and socio-emotional skills. It is also a period that the average child’s interactions with their mother dominate their social environment. This study examined how maternal negative affect and an emotion face prime (mother/stranger) jointly effect selective vis...
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We examined the longitudinal relation between behavioral inhibition (BI) and social anxiety symptoms and behavior and the mediating role of emotion regulation (ER). Moreover, we investigated the influence of parenting behavior on the development of ER strategies. Participants were 291 children (135 male) followed longitudinally from 2 to 13 years....
Preprint
The COVID-19 pandemic and its associated restrictions caused significant stress and anxiety among many, but individual effects of the pandemic vary widely. We examine if specific forms of anxiety (generalized vs. social) predict distinct trajectories of anxiety, perceived stress, and COVID-related worries during three early months of the pandemic....
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Background The COVID-19 pandemic has created increased stress and anxiety for many; however, some individuals are particularly prone to heightened anxiety. It is unclear if and how pre-stress neurocognitive factors moderate risk for anxiety during high stress situations. Enhanced error monitoring and a cognitive control strategy of more instantaneo...
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The last decade has seen increased availability of mobile electroencephalography (EEG). These mobile systems enable researchers to conduct data collection “in‐context,” reducing participant burden and potentially increasing diversity and representation of research samples. Our research team completed in‐home data collection from more than 400 twelv...
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Background: Social anxiety is amongst the most prevalent adolescent mental health problems; however, it is often unrecognized due to its comorbidity with other anxiety problems such as generalized anxiety. Thus, understanding the unique developmental pathways to social anxiety is critical for improving its prevention. We examined the pathway from...
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Background: Behavioral inhibition (BI) is a temperament style characterized by heightened reactivity and negative affect in response to novel people and situations, and it predicts anxiety problems later in life. However, not all BI children develop anxiety problems, and mounting evidence suggests that how one manages their cognitive resources (co...
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This study examined whether early institutional rearing and attachment security influence the quality and quantity of friendships at age 16 in 138 participants, including children abandoned to institutions in Bucharest, Romania, who were randomized to care as usual (n=45, 26 female), or foster care (n=47, 25 female), and a never-institutionalized g...
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Children reared in institutions experience severe psychosocial deprivation, resulting in lasting consequences for social and emotional development. This study evaluated growth trajectories of self-regulation from ages 8 to 16 among previously institutionalized children randomized to foster care (foster-care group; FCG) or to remain in institutional...
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Behavioral inhibition is a temperamental disposition to react warily when confronted by unfamiliar people, objects, or events. Behaviorally inhibited children are at greater risk of developing anxiety disorders later in life. Previous studies reported that individuals with a history of childhood behavioral inhibition exhibit abnormal activity in th...
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Although positive effects of oxytocin (OT) on social functioning are well-demonstrated, little is known about the mechanisms through which OT may drive early social development, or its therapeutic efficacy in infancy. To address these critical issues, we investigated the effects of exogenous OT on neural (EEG) and behavioral responses during observ...
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Extensive research has demonstrated the transactional nature of parent-child psychopathology, with limited studies examining these effects during late adolescence and none, to our knowledge, longitudinally during the COVID-19 pandemic. The current study examined the cross-lagged effects of parent and adolescent internalizing symptoms during the COV...
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Objective: Early psychosocial deprivation increases the risk of later cognitive and psychiatric problems, but not all deprived children show these difficulties. Here, we examine the extent to which psychosocial deprivation increases the risk of later cognitive and psychiatric difficulties and the downstream consequences of this for risk-taking beha...
Preprint
Full-text available
This report examines spectrum-wide (1 to 100 Hz) differences in electroencephalogram (EEG) power between eyes open (EO) and eyes closed (EC) conditions in children. A high density (60 electrode) system was used to measure EEG power at 4, 5, 7, 9, and 11 years of age. Results showed spatial and frequency band differences as a function of age. Specif...
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Motivation influences cognitive control, particularly in childhood and adolescence. Previous work finds that the error-related negativity (ERN), an event-related potential (ERP) linked to cognitive control following errors, is influenced by social motivation. However, it is unclear whether the influences of social motivation on the ERN extend to st...